Kjell Tore Innervik

Utopias

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The performances here are billed as "radical reinterpretations of Iconic Works for Percussion." Things promoted as "radical" rarely are, but in this case, you get the real deal. Not the least radical thing is that the name of the performer, Arctic Norwegian percussionist Kjell Tore Innervik, does not appear in the main graphics; you have to go to the track list to see who's playing. And the album concept is indeed somewhat radical. CD buyers will get a booklet with 15 pages of solid theory reflecting on the proceedings (the work is exclusively for percussion; the link to the poetry of Sappho is one of its puzzles), but the main idea is that the same work, Iannis Xenakis; Psappha, is presented in two guises, or "personae," differing according to the player's mood and the imagined setting of the performance, and shaped not only by the player's choices but by such details as microphone placement. This is perhaps less radical for Xenakis, whose works are generally open to multiple realizations, than it would be if the idea were applied to, say, a string quartet playing Haydn, but it does result in textures of considerable subtlety from Innervik. The Xenakis pair, varied and outward, are set against Morton Feldman's The King of Denmark (again, a title open to many interpretations), in which the performer -- the instrument is not specified, but the realization here is persuasive -- is directed to create sounds at the limit of audibility. Innervik's work is compelling, but the main attraction is the always superb engineering work from the Norwegian label 2L, which ascends into truly stellar realms. Sample the Feldman, entrancing enough on a good conventional stereo; the program is also offered on a Blu-Ray disc employing various kinds of sophisticated audio processing, presumably bringing still greater joys to those with the equipment to realize them. A sure bet for engineering awards, the album will otherwise probably have a reception dependent on one's preexisting attitude toward the Xenakis school.

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