Martin Bartlett

Burning Water

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Martin Bartlett's "Hexachords," which opens the album, provides a lovely example of his work with interactive electronics. Patterns played on soprano recorder are "listened to" by a computer, which reacts with its own elaborations on those patterns and signals a synthesizer to play them, creating a constant back and forth between performer and program. The result is a beautiful, many-layered tapestry of sound, smooth yet unpredictable, the general character perhaps a bit reminiscent of Terry Riley's late-'60s organ improvisations (both Bartlett and Riley studied with Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath). Two versions of "Etats," one each with George Lewis (trombone) and Frances-Marie Uitti (cello) are different affairs, much less mellifluous and somewhat more turbulent in nature. Uitti is especially impressive, using dark, melancholy lines to summon equally brooding gurgles and tremblings from the computer. The title piece, which finds Bartlett interacting with his own program, begins much as the first, with subtle inferences of Carnatic singing, but segues into a small flurry of rising tones like a cluster of tornadoes and finally subsides into several minutes of gentle sighs, pings, and whirrs. Overall, this is a fine and rewarding series of compositions from a composer who should be far better known.

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