Michael Svoboda

Phonométrie

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AllMusic Review by

Guam-born composer Mike Svoboda, a student of Karlheinz Stockhausen, offers in the booklet for this CD an extensive philosophical justification for his mixture of his own music with that of Erik Satie. The underlying ideas have to do with the relationship between technology and musical style, with a low-tech ensemble including trombone and varying odd keyboards -- accordion, melodica, toy piano -- offered as a theoretical alternative realization of the ethos of Satie's music. Thus the selections on the disc are of three kinds: 1) compositions by Satie himself, arranged by Svoboda for voice and a combination of his low-tech (the word is his) instruments, 2) original instrumental works by Svoboda, and 3) paired pieces consisting of selections from Satie's Sports et Divertissments, instrumentally arranged, and Svoboda's settings of Satie's French texts from that work (provided in the booklet in French, English, and German). Most of the tracks are extremely short, many of them less than a minute long. Even the straight Satie is much altered from its original form, not least because the pitches of the melodica and toy piano don't accord with the tempered scale and would, in this context, be called microtonal. The booklet essay is dense, but the music is enjoyable in a loopy way, something like what might happen if Stockhausen and Tom Waits got together to enjoy an evening of Satie's music. And it's not hard to imagine that Satie himself would have enjoyed such a reimagining of his music, perhaps as much as or more than any other composer. One of a series of odd Satie discs to come along in the first decade of the new century, this effort shows just how strongly his example continues to inspire new creative thinking.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
1
0:19
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
2
0:52
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
3
0:52
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
4
0:51
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
5
0:48
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
6
1:37
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
7
0:27
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
8
1:27
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
9
0:44
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
10
1:16
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
11
0:54
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
12
2:15
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
13
1:34
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
14
1:26
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
15
0:35
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
16
0:53
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
17
0:19
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
18
1:49
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
19
0:43
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
20
1:26
21
5:23
Ludions, song cycle for voice & piano
22
0:34
23
0:37
24
1:02
25
0:43
26
0:37
Avant-dernières pensées (Next-to-last thoughts), pieces (3) for piano
27
1:05
28
2:03
29
0:47
30
2:28
Canon Studies (5), for trombone & accordion
31
1:13
32
2:31
33
1:52
34
2:01
35
2:13
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
36
0:48
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
37
0:36
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
38
1:16
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
39
0:41
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
40
1:44
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
41
0:51
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
42
1:12
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
43
0:25
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
44
1:15
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
45
0:50
46 2:26
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
47
0:30
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
48
1:07
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
49
0:42
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
50
1:47
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
51
0:25
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
52
1:27
Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
53
0:44
French Songs (20), for voice, trombone & accordion
54
2:40
55
4:05
blue highlight denotes track pick