Michel Doneda


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French saxophonist Michel Doneda had previously established himself as one of the more extreme reed practitioners, and this disc found him showing no signs of retrenching. As the title suggests, he plays sopranino saxophone here -- the tiniest and highest pitched member of the family -- and Doneda largely confines himself to the extreme high end of the instrument. It's an oddly structured disc, to say the least. Tracks 1- 63 take up about 28 minutes in their entirety and, moreover, sound virtually indistinguishable from each other. On each cut, Doneda deploys whistling and wheezing fragments, often at a quiet enough level that the clicks of the saxophone keys are as prominent as the breathed tones, while Boulant adjusts a radio (only summoning forth hums or static). Boulant is also credited with "microphonography" which presumably has to do with the placement and movement of recording equipment, although it's difficult to discern any difference between tracks in that regard. The musicians advise listening to the pieces in random order, a strategy that, given the near sameness of the cuts, yields questionable results. Track 64, on the other hand, clocks in at over 40 minutes and is collaged from recordings made in four locations in the countryside around Doneda's house. However, it's very much in the same ballpark as the initial pieces; he remains in the upper reaches of the instrument; generally with long tones and exploring much of the same territory. The atmosphere behind Doneda shifts interestingly (one picks up the sounds of a stream and breezes), and it becomes somewhat absorbing to hear the sopranino in relationship with them, but ultimately, the fragmentary nature of the work acts against the listener's ability to mentally form a cohesive whole. Though, of course, this may be exactly what Doneda is aiming for.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 28:43
2 40:00
blue highlight denotes track pick