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Roberto FABBRICIANI (b. 1949)
Glaciers in Extinction (2005): Glacier Ururashraju [11:27]; Pasterze [14:58]; South Cascade Glacier [7:17]; Furtwängler Ice Wall [9:46]; Carroll Glacier [9:01]; Chalcaltaya Glacier [4:16]
Roberto Fabbriciani (hyperbass flute)
rec. March 2005, Arrezzo, Italy. DDD
COL LEGNO WWE1CD20254 [57:14]

Experience Classicsonline

From the opening deep rumblings of this disc, it is immediately clear that this is something unusual. Comprising six works for hyperbass flute and tape, the environmental concern is obvious from the title. Each work concerns a glacier that still exists, using sound to describe the life-force of nature which is inherent in these landscapes.

The instruments used are quite extraordinary. The hyperbass flute, an invention of the performer and composer Robert Fabbriciani, is the largest and lowest member of the flute family. Combined with a tape part of natural sounds and pre-recorded hyperbass flute, these compositions are soundscapes which are full of imagery and suggestion - the first track even made me start shivering! The sounds really are incredible, and I felt an urge to take the disc to a recording studio to hear the low sounds through speakers of a higher quality than my home stereo in order to get the full effect. 

Although the tracks appear quite long when seen in a listing, the eleven and a half minutes of the first track, Glacier Ururashraju passed by quickly, and I could have heard much more. I initially wondered whether there would be enough scope in the musical material to sustain a whole disc, but Pasterze offers contrast with accents and rhythmic impetus, alongside greater air sounds and a general sense of a colder, wilder place. Bird sounds can be heard in the background and pizzicato tongue rams give an occasional bass line. The music builds gradually to a dramatic crescendo of breath sounds. Despite inhabiting the same soundworlds, the rest of the tracks also offer variety, each having its own sense of identity. There are some musical ideas which make regular appearances; these give some overall sense of structure and do not become tedious. Track six, Chalcaltaya Glacier is faster paced, containing some highly alluring multiphonic sounds. The shortest of the works, its dramatic opening is utterly absorbing and gives way to atmospheric stillness. 

Fabbriciani’s playing is imaginative, and makes use of various contemporary techniques to create a wide palette of sounds, including harmonics and air sounds. I was captivated with this unique music from beginning to end. There is a sense of gradual evolution, as if seeing these landscapes from the air. This music appeals to the senses and conjures up images of the places it represents. In a time of climate change and environmental campaigning, this is probably one of the very best arguments I have heard to do what we can to stop global warming.

Carla Rees



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