This album presents the two Magister-winning pieces from the 1998 International Competition of Electroacoustic Music, plus an older piece from each of the prize-winning composers. Wlodzimierz Kotonski's "Tierra Caliente" uses only sounds from nature (weather, birds, insects, etc.) as source material. Although the origins are only occasionally recognizable, the piece has an organic feel that is difficult to reproduce with pure electronics. Composed of long steady sections interrupted by short, complex bursts, the piece is a superb example of contemporary musique concréte. "Aela" is an older piece, an electronic realization of a graphic score dating from 1970. Although the sounds are more primitive than the complex sounds of "Tierra Caliente," "Aela" has a certain charm and lack of pretension, and it increases the amount of music currently available from one of electronic music's early pioneers. Jean-Claude Risset is one of the acknowledged masters of sound synthesis, with a career dating from the early 1960s at Bell Laboratories to Pierre Boulez' request that he lead the computer department at the new IRCAM in the 1980s. His prize-winning "Attracteurs Étranges" is a four-part piece for clarinet and tape, with the tape sounds originating in clarinet phrases and voices. It explores various fractal structures (the Strange Attractor is one of the most well-known fractal forms), whether centering the work around a single pitch (as in the first part) or melodic fragments that repeat at different scales (as in the last part). The 1996 "Invisible" presents texts from Chinese Taoist philsopher Chuang-Tsu in a work inspired by Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities, as the soprano voice narrates (in French) and sings the texts with a spectral accompaniment generated from voices and wind sounds. Both of Risset's works are subtle, sparse and rewarding, but requiring more attention than the dramatic gestures of Kotonski's prize-winning piece.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Caleb Deupree