Elizabeth McNutt

Pipe Wrench: Flute + Computer

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Pipe Wrench: Flute + Computer is a collection of pieces for flute and computer or tape interpreted by Elizabeth McNutt. Of all instruments, the flute makes a very interesting pairing with technology. It probably has to do with the purity of its sound (as opposed to the saxophone, for example) and the angelical/aerial/untouchable paradigm it conjures up in the listener's mind. So to have the sound of this instrument accompanied by a shattered image of itself often produces more gripping results. In four of the five works included here, the computer follows the performance of the score, capturing the sound of the flute and transforming it according to predetermined algorithms at specific points in the piece. Two works stand out. Cort Lippe's "Music for Flute and Computer" contains beautiful moments simply because it lets the flute be itself, the electronics only enhancing its possibilities (range, polyphony). The integration of both parts reaches a point where the distracted listener cannot tell them apart. The other strong moment is the 28-minute "Jupiter" by Philippe Manoury, the oldest piece in this set (1987). Here the computer part, although interactive, takes more the form of an acousmatic work. The interplay between woman and machine and the quality of the writing (dense and very dramatic) are captivating. At midpoint in the album comes Eric Lyon's "The Blistering Price of Power," which could only be described as comic relief. The disco beats, fragments of musique concrète, and ridiculous punch lines taken from advertisements (or something like that) force the flutist to play only cheesy pop lines. Hilarious, it brings a welcomed change of pace and equilibrates the remainder of the disc.

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