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Elodie LAUTEN (b. 1950)
Variations on the Orange Cycle (1991) [39:04]
Crossroads, aka Variations in Search of a Theme (2004) [12:42]
Sonate Ordinaire (1986) [23:28]
Elodie Lauten, piano
Recorded 1991, 2004, 1987, New York.
4TAY 4031 [75:14]

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Elodie Lauten has been active in the New York music scene for some years, and when you search for her name on the internet, you come up with quite a bit of activity. One can admire her for being a seemingly good self-promoter, and for drawing a devoted following for her music.

Regrettably for me, neither her music nor her playing particularly moves me here. For over an hour, hapless listeners are subjected to an endless noodling at the piano, a kind of half George Winston, half Keith Jarrett random improvisation that has neither of the important elements of quality in that genre: form and melody. What many a modern “composer” seems to forget, is that when the great improvisers of the past sat down to play, they improvised fully worked out fugues, sonatas, toccatas. They did not sit down for long stretches and wander through a forest of repetitive arpeggios in a monochromatic tone world.

Ms. Lauten has been referred to as a “post-minimalist” in a few places, but the qualities of intricate rhythm and hypnotic, memorable melodies that make music by Philip Glass or Steve Reich so appealing,  are missing in this music. Rather, this production seems homespun, reminiscent of the sort of basement studio discs that so overpopulate the New Age racks in the stores.

I would think that this music would find a favorably disposed audience amongst the coffee house set if generously seasoned with some poetry readings and good coffee. Honestly, I wish that I could find more to praise in this disc, because from the information that I was able to find on her, Ms. Lauten is an ambitious and dedicated composer. Alas, of the two discs of her music that I have reviewed. (see review of Walking in New York, Portrait of Allen Ginsberg) I have yet to hear anything that I think is either inspired or even particularly interesting.

Kevin Sutton


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