Cycling '74, the maker of the music software Max/MSP, has been documenting on its record label the various fields in which its best-seller can be used. Contemporary classical was inevitable and William Kleinsasser's Available Instruments thus pairs the computer with the orchestra. This short album presents two works. First is the title piece for piano and computer. Daniel Koppelman navigates through the neo-classical, slightly expressionistic score while the machine diffuses a track of electronics made of transformed piano sounds. It feels like a tape part without the "stamped over" effect compositions for instrument and tape usually suffer from. This is not a battle, a confrontation; on the contrary the electronics often sound too timid, subtle. In the end, one wonders what role they played in the conception of the piece. In the 30-minute "Double Concerto," the computer takes a more prominent part, plundering and transforming in real time the orchestra conducted by Paul Rardin. Once again Kleinsasser has used a lot of tact, making sure the electronics enhance and expand the sound of the piece without taking the place of the soloists, violist Christian Colberg and cellist David Shumway. The computer's work is generally seamless, only becoming obvious in a couple of sections. The piece cannot shake off a smell of academicism, but its final largo movement shows some beautiful restraint. That's not enough to make Available Instruments a memorable album.
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