Lontano

Diffracted Terrains: Chamber Music of Dorothy Ker

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The music of New Zealand composer Dorothy Ker (born 1965) is uncompromisingly modernist, and while it's not serial, it has some of the distancing quality of strict serialism of the third quarter of the twentieth century -- it's spiky and angular, disconnected, atonal, withy virtually no predictability or sense of cause and effect. In other words, it doesn't give the listener many handles to grab onto to make it comprehensible. Ker describes the inspiration for her music as being the natural world, such as ocean waves or dreams. Those are things with little predictability or narrative coherence, so it's reasonable to say she has successfully fulfilled her compositional objective; it depends on the temperament of the listener whether he or she is curious and open enough to follow Ker's obscure imagery. The pieces, which vary in instrumentation from solo works (for cello and clarinet) to chamber ensemble are generally spare and sometimes atmospheric. The most memorable is diffracted terrains:duo i, for bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet. The instruments sound terrific together, and the piece has a coherence that's easier to grasp than the others. The players (particularly clarinetist Andrew Sparling, whose playing had a part in the inspiration of five of these pieces) deliver performances of great commitment and focus. Odaline de la Martinez leads the chamber ensemble Lontano in [...and...11], the largest piece. Lorelt's sound is extremely clean, present, and intimate.

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