Simon H. Fell

Simon H. Fell: Kaleidozyklen, Composition No. 57

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Kaleidozyklen is the first orchestral (or classical, if you will) work by bassist Simon H. Fell to be committed to CD. Premiered in Leeds on November 15, 2000, when this recording was made, it constitutes composition number 57 (for those keeping count) and is scored for improvising double bassist (Fell), clarinet (Rachel Cocks), piano (Paul Kosciecha), and orchestra (the LSTwo Ensemble). The latter is the contemporary music ensemble of the University of Leeds. It counts in its ranks students of various degrees and teachers. They deliver a strong performance, obviously open-minded when it comes to the composer's unusual ideas. The piece is based on a serial canvas. The 88 notes of the piano provide the series split over the five movements of the 71-minute work. Fell balances composition and improvisation, occasionally using the orchestra as a huge texture generator to back up the trio's improvisations. At other times the music is fully scored and blends influences from the late Romantics, Stravinsky, Varèse, and Berio. "Duration" uses the low and high-pitch extremes of the series, gently pulling the listener into an uncomfortable environment. The standout track is "Frequency," a complex piece in which the orchestra is split into six groups, each led by its own conductor to create xenochronous effects all the while following the general canvas of a rondo. "(In)articulation" stemmed from the "Adagietto" from Mahler's fifth symphony scanned by music-reading software running on a minimum accuracy setting. It creates an uneasy feeling of warped déjà vu. Kaleidozyklen is not without its overlong passages, but Fell struck on a few really good ideas and managed to coach orchestra and improvisers into a convincing meeting, turning this disc into quite an aural feast that doesn't stand that far from Fell's studio-based group music (like the Compilation series).

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