The first album by the contemporary chamber music group Standing Wave was self-released in 1999 and picked up for American distribution by the Canadian label Spool. The quintet features clarinetist François Houle and cellist Peggy Lee, both well-known as new jazz musicians. This eponymous CD features eight works, five of them composed specifically for the ensemble. The oldest piece of the program is also the most striking: Claude Vivier's "Paramaribo" (1978). The group gives a convincing reading of Pierre Boulez's "Dérive" (1984). All other works were written in the 1990s. The best ones are Jacqueline Leggatt's "Farandole II," a baroque-meets-postmodern quintet featuring a complex contrapuntal piano part. John Korsrud's "Stark Raving" contains all the energy he usually puts out with his creative orchestra Hard Rubber Orchestra. Bradshaw Pack's "The Earth for You a Standing Place" deserves mention. A nice play on contrasts, it features Lee, who also gets an impressive cadenza in Vivier's piece. The album was recorded with two ambient microphones, resulting in a warm and ample sound. Its release went rather unnoticed, which is a shame: Standing Wave is a talented group with a very wide sound palette and a rare artistic sensibility to contemporary music. Their interpretations are inhabited by a passion often lacking from similar ensembles.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture