According to the composer, the five works on David Lang's 2003 recording Child constitute an "attempt to examine certain experiences as I remember (and misremember) them from my childhood. Each individual movement is in some way a memory of how I learned to do something." For this recording, Lang gathered the separately commissioned but closely affined pieces into a suite for a varied ensemble of winds, strings, piano, and percussion, presented here by the Italian chamber ensemble Sentieri Selvaggi. Lang clearly draws on the repeated patterns and static harmonic fields of minimalism, but reduces the volume almost throughout to a restless murmur (save in the frenetic pianistic patter of Short Fall). The extramusical associations of the works range widely: a half-forgotten mnemonic memory device for the order of the planets lends its title -- as well as its gentle orbital feel and lack of closure -- to My Very Empty Mouth, the subtle intoxication of the dentist's laughing gas is invoked by the undulating woodwinds in Sweet Air, and the structural contours of Stick Figure are reduced to simple lines of sustained notes with sudden percussive strokes marking off its spare features. The streamlined yet lyrical nature of this music is complemented by the intimate, subtly articulated recording.
AllMusic Review by Jeremy Grimshaw