Adventure and exoticism permeate Stephen Scott's Paisajes Audibles (Sounding Landscapes), a song cycle for soprano voice and bowed piano ensemble. All the instrumental sounds on this disc are produced by ten players on an open grand piano, using bows of nylon fishline and horsehair, picks, mallets, and mutes of various materials, and the variety of timbres is remarkable. Yet novel sound production is a secondary issue in this work, for the effects of the elaborately prepared piano recede to the background when soprano Victoria Hansen begins singing. Her dramatic incantations and lyrical reveries draw attention away from the ensemble and focus it on imagery -- both real and imaginary -- of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. Scott's settings of texts by Plato, Lorca, and Agustín Espinosa, among others, lay out a mystical journey to this remote island, though this excursion is suggestive rather than explicit. Scott's eclectic treatment of musical styles; his renderings of lyrics in Spanish, English, and French; and his use of extra-musical material for inspiration make this work quite dense with meanings and associations, many of which may elude the listener. Yet Paisajes Audibles can be appreciated on its surface as a gentle meditation on distant times and places, wherever the imagination may lead. Albany's recorded sound is clear and resonant.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Paisajes Audibles (Sounding Landscapes), for bowed piano, ensemble & soprano|