The title of the album Takshasilâ refers to a mountain site in Kashmir also discussed by Claude Lévi-Strauss in his book Tristes Tropiques. You're in French intellectual circles now, cher, and this solo clarinet music is hardcore modernist, atonal stuff, with the instruments (Jean-Pierre Peuvion plays clarinets ranging from soprano to contrabass) pushed to their shrieking, squeaking, moaning limits. The album is held together, however, by a concept that's unusual in music of this sort: Peuvion says that he intends the music by the various composers on the disc to provide "a tracery of humanity's history and geography, from that first acoustic stammering of a reed back in the early dawn of the world, all the way through to that other contemporary ritual linked to technology." Sorting through the abstractions that French students are taught to juggle so effortlessly, one finds a sequence of music running loosely from evocations of ancient rituals to modern electronic sounds. The title track by Jean-Louis Robert (it and the final duocto by Patrick Lenfant are by far the longest works on the disc), hinting at Eastern mysticism, is paired with a work by Peuvion himself in which he plays twin clarinets, suggesting the pastoral roots of reed instruments. At the other end of the spectrum is duocto, a tour de force of interaction between clarinetist and tape, with a sequence of violent events petering out into a haunting, fragmented quotation of Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the soprano clarinet. This kind of music is not for everyone, but the unique organization of the program will invite even listeners unsympathetic to contemporary music to give it a try.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim