Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet

Fulvio Caldini: Fade Control

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Italian composer Fulvio Caldini (born in 1959) has made something of a specialty of writing for recorder, and this CD includes seven of his works for recorder quartet. Many of these pieces show the strong influence of minimalism, particularly the work of Steve Reich and Louis Andriessen. While these pieces wouldn't be mistaken for Reich or Andriessen, they use many of the devices characteristic of their music, have a similar harmonic language, and a similar dancing vitality. The makeup of a recorder quartet can include a broad range of instruments, from contrabass to sopranino, so the sound can vary considerably, depending on which instruments are used. Caldini is especially skilled at creating unique soundworlds by combining the instruments in a variety of configurations, so the disc has a variety not usually associated with the recorder quartet genre. Caldini's ensembles are often wonderfully quirky and create really unconventional sonorities. One of the most successful pieces, Fade Control, uses instruments from the lower end of the spectrum, which have the capability for strongly percussive attacks, and its jerky, hocketing lines suggest a complex Rube Goldberg contraption just on the verge of teetering out of control. Beata Viscere, based on a melody by PĂ©rotin, uses a similar ensemble, but to an entirely different effect: a haunting, piercingly intense meditation evocative of a distant time. Other pieces set up a similar odd dichotomy between the very old and the very new; it's possible to hear Loud, one of the album's most engaging selections, either as a sort of riff on the soundworld of Tehillim or as a medieval dance gone awry. Loeki Stardust Quartet plays with astonishing virtuosity, creating unbelievable sounds from an array of recorders. The sound of the SACD is superb -- clean and crisp, with an intimacy that makes you feel that you could reach out and touch the performers.

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