Ensemble Gelberklang

Farben der Stille

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As would be expected from an album titled Farben der Stille (Colors of Silence), the music played here by Ensemble Gelberklang is largely clustered around the quietest end of the sonic spectrum. The group, which takes its name (The Yellow Sound) from a 1912 multimedia project by Wassily Kandinsky, devotes this collection of late twentieth century chamber music to pieces in which silence and stillness are central elements. It includes several pieces that have become classics, including Takemitsu's Rain Spell, Feldman's For Frank O'Hara, and Saariaho's Nymphea (Jardin Secret III), as well as two less familiar multi-movement works, Scott Roller's Serraval and Albrecht Imbescheid's Farben der Stille. The album's title nicely references the synaesthetic cross-fertilization with non-musical arts that inspired several of the pieces: Serraval is an homage to sculptor Richard Serra, Feldman's work honors his friend, writer Frank O'Hara, and Nymphea alludes to Monet's paintings of water lilies. In spite of the prevailing quietness (which is sometimes dramatically punctuated), these works represent a broad aesthetic spectrum, from Takemitsu's subdued harmonic lushness, to Feldman's and Roller's pointillist filigrees, to Saariaho's spectral atmospherics. The ensemble plays each work with the requisite delicacy, but there is nothing tentative or half-hearted in its approach; these are intensely focused performances, colorful and nuanced. The SACD beautifully captures the details of the diverse soundworlds the pieces inhabit and draws listeners into an intimate space.

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