Elmar Lampson: Fadenkreuze

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For Elmar Lampson, composition and the phenomenology of music overlap as disciplines, and attentive listening is as critical to his works' reception as is analysis of their carefully timed structures or pitch content. Lampson's String Quartet No. 2 (1992-1998) operates on several aural planes, some near and easy to distinguish, and others more remote and indistinct. The material shifts between active, atonal flurries and soft, almost lyrical passages of modal simplicity, and the extremely soft dynamics stimulate intense concentration and an awareness of time and space as musical elements. Halleluja for solo cello (1996) opens propulsively with active, vigorously bowed patterns, but these slow down gradually into long held pitches, faint harmonics, and silences, leaving at the end an impression of dissolution and disappearance. The spiky Pieces (4) for violin and piano (1988) seem to predate Lampson's study of music's psychological dimensions, and sound more like technical etudes than deep explorations of acoustics and perception. Violinists Marc Danel and Gilles Millet, violist Tony Nys, and cellist Guy Danel are intensely focused in the quartet, and cellist Wolfgang Sellner turns in a controlled yet moving performance of Halleluja. Col Legno provides fine sound, which captures the subtlest changes of dynamics and tone.

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