Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud's first solo album since leaving her 20-year gig with the celebrated Kronos Quartet finds her exploring areas that aren't exactly a huge departure from the type of edgy modern music she played with her old group, but it does show what she can do when given her own space to work with. The results are impressive. Most of the compositions are for solo cello with looped cello parts captured digitally or on tape, while one is written for cello and computer-generated sounds and another for cello and "electronics." The composers are a combination of names familiar (Steve Mackey, Philip Glass, Hamza el Din) and new (Mark Grey, Jeanrenaud herself), and while the pieces aren't all equally interesting there are several works of stunning beauty here. One of the most engaging is el Din's "Escalay + 17:10," with its looped Egyptian melodies, and another is Jeanrenaud's own "Altar Piece," which makes extensive use of electronic tone alteration and layering, and on which she exercises masterful control of whispery artificial harmonics. But the album's highlight is a piece by Karen Tanaka entitled "Song of Songs." Inspired by the Old Testament book of the same name, which is essentially an extended love song, Tanaka builds a sweet, simple, and beautifully textured work out of cello and computer-generated sounds. As always, Jeanrenaud's playing is virtuosic but never showy. Highly recommended.
'When all is said and done, Kuijken and Hyperion have given us perhaps the most fully satisfying recording yet of the work—one not likely to be challenged for some time'(American Record Guide)
The Vienna Art Orchestra is a 15-member jazz orchestra that features the avant-garde arrangements and compositions of its leader, pianist Mathias Ruegg. This is a reissue of their 1980 debut, an important document in the post-modern jazz movement. The opening, title track is a joyous, folkish tango that's been cartoonishly toyed with, featuring three solo sections. The marimba section is also ornamented with vocalese from Lauren Newton, followed by an extremely playful horn lead that sounds like a toy instrument. The solo offering from violinist Rudi Berger has an electronically effected fusion sound. A tight, alto sax solo by Wolfgang Puschnig ties everything together neatly with a lengthy, unaccompanied performance.