David Shea's sampling technique manages to be both one of the most innovative experiments in classical music and, at the same time, one of the most conservative uses of pre-recorded music. As the first piece on his Classical Works collection, "Chamber Symphony #1" highlights his unique process. The recording is the result of an original performance by the Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble, a 16-member chamber orchestra. The ensemble contributed to the recording in three ways: they played acoustically, they activated pedals to create electronic versions of their instruments, and they were sampled, with the sampled pieces later worked back into the recording, adding new layers and textures. The result is a multi-layered mix which challenges the listener to discern between the live and recorded elements. Shea only uses material from the original performance here, which is the kind of limitation that leads to even more creative solutions. Each of the four movements show a freshness in style and a great energy in their execution. "The Voice Suite," the second piece on the album, also makes use of both sampled pieces and electro-acoustic instrumentation to create an interpretation of the score for a radio drama by the same name. A much smaller group of musicians is used here and the sampling is more obvious, though still well-integrated. The music is delicate and beautiful, with subcurrents of ominous rumblings, making good use of the string talents of cellist Erik Friedlander and the "screaming oboe multiphonics" of Piet Van Bockstal. Both "The Voice Suite" and "Chamber Symphony #1" also show a good deal of depth, making this one of Shea's most well-executed albums.
AllMusic Review by Stacia Proefrock