The six compositions on this disc focus on the jazzier side of Gavin Bryars' slow-motion, austere way of making music. Each work is different in detail, form, and length, yet all unfold at a leisurely pace and feature long stretches of massive chords that float like sonic icebergs. Imagine Mahler's most exposed, delicate orchestrations married to Gil Evans' brooding arrangements from his heyday with Miles Davis, garnished with the bleakest Sibelius at half speed, and you've got an idea of what to expect. Bryars cites Wagner's Parsifal as the impetus behind The Porazzi Fragment for 21 solo strings, but the work's glowing resonance, imaginative textures (wonderful ponticello effects, for instance), and subtle harmonic shifts suggest anRead more updated Strauss Metamorphosen. Holly Cole's acerbic, focused timbre is in the tradition of jazz singers like Betty Carter and Shirley Horn, and as such it ideally suits the wandering ballad style of the three orchestral songs that open the disc.
Gwen Hoebig turns in a masterful performance of Bryars' Violin Concerto, while the composer himself is the featured double bass soloist in By the Vaar, originally written for and first recorded by the great jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Haden's tone is bigger and more defined than Bryars', especially in the middle to lower registers, and better balanced within the orchestra. Bryars, by contrast, is slightly too prominent in the mix. Still, it's obvious that Owen Underhill and the CBC Radio Orchestra play with finesse and heartfelt affinity for these scores. It's best to hear them one or two at a time, rather than all six in sucession. Excellent annotations and first-rate sonics cap my recommendation.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
The Porazzi Fragmentby Gavin Bryars Conductor:
C.B.C. Radio Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1999
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