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MGB Records (Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund)

Centre International de Percussion
Franco DONATONI (1927 – 2000)

Mari II for two marimbas (1992)
Lou PELOSI (b.1947)

Ten Inventions for two percussionists (1989)
Marc-Andre RAPPAS (b.1958)

Stances for two percussionists and violin (1993, rev. 2000)
Jean-Claude SCHLAEPFER (b.1961)

Instances II – seven pieces for marimba (1994)
Fritz HAUSER (b.1953)

Zytraffer for percussion (1992)
De-qing WEN (b.1953)

Kung Fu for percussion solo (1998)
Franco DONATONI (1927 – 2000)

Madrigali for four children’s choirs and four percussionists (1991)
A re-issue of a 1994 disc from Stradivarius CT STR 33437
sponsored by RSR-Espace 2, recorded from 1995 – 2000. DDD


The Centre International de Percussion located in Geneva was formed to promote and develop all activities connected with the world of percussion, principally in the field of contemporary music. This disc acts as a window on the scope of their activities, featuring six of their associates in seven separate works for various combinations of percussion instruments.

As with many discs of this type, seventy-odd minutes of percussion gets a little wearing unless you are a keen fan of the genre. So it is here, but there is sufficient variety, with the six composers producing each fairly short pieces for us to hear.

Franco Donatoni , born in Verona, learned violin and then progressed to composition, studying at the Milan Conservatory and then in Bologna. He is represented here by two works, the first being Mari II, for four marimbas. The sleeve-notes talk knowingly about the work’s predecessor, Mari I, but as this is not included here, I am unable to comment on the thematic development claimed between the two works. Mari II weaves its way from the initial themes to a rather monotonous conclusion, mainly due to the sound of the instrument not the work. I would have thought some respite from the sound of the marimba may have been a benefit. In the final work, Madrigale, Donatoni comes much further up in my estimation. Here he includes four children’s choirs, to relieve the sound of the percussion instruments. The use of four choirs and four percussionists is so that the work can be performed with one group of each at each of the four corners of the performing space. The sleeve-notes pretentiously try to persuade us that this layout was put in place by the composer, to ape the similar layout used by Berlioz in his Requiem. Pretentious, because as any lover of the earlier work, it was only the four brass choirs arranged at the extremities, with the very large body of performers clearly placed in the centre!

Lou Pelosi was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and was trained there and also at the Manhattan School of Music. He started work as a piano tuner in New York, whilst composing in his spare time. The Ten Inventions performed here were commissioned by the CIP in 1986, and the listener will, no doubt, find that the variety in these individually short pieces is very attractive.

Marc-Andre Rappas studied violin, viola and composition at the Music Conservatory in Geneva, and during his studies also learnt languages, poetry, physics, mathematics and information science. His work, Stances, is inspired by literary sources, the first being from a poem by Ronsard, the second from the scene of the death of Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck. The violin relieves the boredom but does not significantly enhance the proceedings.

I am sure that these are meaningful to the composer, but their influence, is I am afraid, lost on me. Still, the work is quite pleasant to hear, and readers should not be put off by the claptrap in the notes.

Jean-Claude Schlaepfer is Swiss-born, and trained at the Conservatoire Superior in Geneva. My response to this piece was also coloured by the incessant nature of the sound of the instrument.

Fritz Hauser, born in Basle, is a well travelled professional performer with percussion, and on the face of it his work "Zytraffer," although scored for six snare drums, and therefore might be thought to be rather monotonous, is one of the pieces on this well-filled disc that has shape and some direction in it – obviously performing has a lot to do with it.

Finally, Kung-fu by De-Qing Wen includes shouting by the player in the "Chinese oral tradition"; more pretension, I am afraid. Kung-fu has the "Ying" and "Yang" which is interpreted by the composer as soft and hard. In listening to this track I cannot distinguish between Ying and Yang. One has to take these notes with a large pinch of salt. It smacks of vapid modernistic opera production values.

Recording quality is all that you would expect with clarity and good definition.

John Phillips


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