A full-price disc of seventy minutes of processed flute music
by a relatively unknown microtonalist/serialist composer from
Lithuania whom the soloist himself describes as "super-minimalist".
It’s not the most obvious combination to have music-lovers
queuing around the block, credit card at the ready.
It was Sicilian flautist Manuel Zurria who actually had the
idea for what Mažulis calls a "crazy and ambitious"
project - to adapt some of Mažulis's works for his own instrument
to make this recording. He describes the composer's music in
the notes with untrammelled enthusiasm, though not necessarily
in words that are bound to persuade anyone reading the blurb
or a review of any urgent need to experience it: "like
drowning without being in need of oxygen. Indefinable music:
it has a mysterious and enigmatic quality [...] Utopian music
projected to the future [...] Music of contradictions, therefore
… and music of paradox."
Whilst the works were all recorded as per the details given
above, this is as much a disc of high-tech studio music as acoustic,
and would not be what it is without the mixing that took place
in Vilnius once the recording was completed. Unfortunately,
the liner-notes do not say to what degree the tracks have been
digitally processed, nor do they always make clear how many
flutes are involved in each work - though 14 in Schisma
is the maximum.
Belvedere is the only original work for flute, composed
by Mažulis for Zurria. All the others were written for different
forces and arranged for this recording, apparently by Zurria
himself. There are slow works and faster ones. All are performed
by flutes using various acoustic and digital techniques. All
depend on the relentless, slowly mutating repetition of minimalism
for their effect. That effect may be either hypnotic or nauseating,
depending. Those that enjoy this kind of thing will enjoy this
disc. Those that cannot see the point or skill or imagination
in it will not be converted by anything here, and will probably
steer well clear of Mažulis's music in future.
Schisma above all - the "central composition of
the album", in Mažulis's words - at nearly half an hour
in length, will surely polarise opinion: is this a massively
self-indulgent, interminable and utterly pointless drone, or
is it in fact a haunting, complex, visionary work of considerable
intensity and depth? It is difficult in any case not to be in
awe of its sheer scale.
Despite the fact that it is impossible to tell just how much
is Zurria and how much engineer/producer, it is nevertheless
clear that Zurria has brought immense discipline to the recording
of this music. His commitment to it cannot fail to impress.
His English, on the other hand, can be as puzzling as Mažulis's
music to the uninitiated: "The shifting poly-metrics of
some fractional metronomic measures relate to Karlheinz Stockhausen's
radicalism, to his hyper-rational decimal tempo points for which
astonished the performers as it is a rather absolute required
Sound quality is generally good, although the flutes are a little
strident in the louder works, and the original recording of
Tranquility and Schisma in Italy was not done
in a soundproof building, and traffic noise therefore plays
a quiet but significant role, particularly in the relative calm
of the former.
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