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Cristina SPINEI (b. 1984) Music For Dance From (2010) [6:46] Perspectives (2012) [6:56] Meet Me Under The Clock (2013) [6:51] Some Breaking (2009) [15:12] Bootleg Sugar Lips (2012) [16:27] Synched (2010) [10:59]
Voxare String Quartet (From, Breaking) Pala García, Joan Plana (violin), Amanda Verner (viola), Aleisha Verner (cello) (Perspectives, Bootleg) Sari De Leon Reist (cello), Colleen Phelps (marimba) (Meet) St Michel Strings/Jose Serebrier (Synched)
rec. Oktaven Audio, Yonkers, New York, November 2009 (Breaking), December 2010 (From), May 2012 (Perspectives, Bootleg); The Bomb Shelter, Nashville, Tennessee, February 2016 (Meet); Mikaeli Hall, Mikkeli, October 2011 (Synched)
First recordings TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0371 [63:15]
Juilliard graduate and student of Christopher Rouse, Cristina Spinei has a background in experimental technology for music composition and performance. She collaborated in a group called Blind Ear, which used software to send music to the performers essentially as it was being written. This meant that the musical elements tended to be short and intended for repetition, thus we have works very much of the minimalist school. I should say the works presented here fit into the latter style, but not the former method of composition/performance.
Spinei has established a connection with a number of dance ensembles and choreographers, leading to this selection of her music. Not having an dance background myself, other than observation, I was surprised at the very slow tempos in a number of the works, presuming that this would make them rather difficult to dance to. From and Perspectives . Meet me Under The Clock is inspired by the helter-skelter of New York’s Grand Central Station, and is the only work to feature a non-string instrument, the marimba. As such, its different soundworld and also its more upbeat tempo provides a pleasing contrast to the other works. Some Breaking has a Asian feel to my ears, with extended sequences of high plucked notes. Again, dancing to this would seem to be a challenge. Bootleg Sugar Lips was written at the request of choreographer Kathleen Dyer, who wanted music of a similar nature to John Adams’s Shaker Loops. The title may seem a trifle odd: Spinei gave it a working name of Bootleg Shaker Loops which was misheard by the dance troupe rehearsing to it. Of the six works, it is the purest of the minimalist style, in that there is a very slow and “minimal” progression across the sixteen-plus minutes. I found it the least interesting. The final work is the only non-chamber piece, though it was originally written as began as an aleatoric piece for string octet and electronics. While this may not sound encouraging, its re-imagining as a work string orchestra is very successful, with the repetitive elements mixing with some quite lovely solo writing.
The performances are very convincing, and the sound is immediate and natural. The composer provides informative and very readable booklet notes.
If the mix of tunefulness and repetition, such as in Philip Glass’s later works, appeals to you, this should be a rewarding purchase.