And now for something completely different: The Brainwave Music Project (Mulatta Records 038), from Brad Garton and Dave Soldier, longtime colleagues (as I gather) at the Columbia Computer Music Center, New York. The tracks marry sounds generated electronically from brain-wave activity to acoustic improvisation of a more conventional sort. (For scoop from the horses' mouths, click here.)
Paul Janes-Brown, my counterpart, godfather, and sounding board on Catch of the Day, was much taken with the results, noting the interplay of the subconscious neural substrate and the conscious musicianly overlay. To me, it all added up to wallpaper music: conceptually intriguing, gritty in ambience, devoid of substance. Besides, the very idea of the electronic artifacts at the heart of the exercise seems extremely problematic. Between the brain and the loudspeaker, after all, it's all software. For the record, we heard:
- "Bible School Vacation," featuring Margaret Lancaster, flute.
- "Dopamine," featuring Dan Trueman, Hardanger fiddle.
Plus, as encores at the tail end of the show:
- "Amygdala, "featuring Terry Pender, mandolin.
- "Rational Entities," featuring William Hooker, drums.
The Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana calls his debut album Through the Lens of Time (Orchid Classics ORC 100080). The program consists of recent tributes to the music of the baroque. In the world-premiere recording of the spacious "Variacions sobre un tema barroc," by Salvador Brotons (*1959), the young soloist displays delicacy, refinement, a charming sense of play, and a gift for intimate expression. I look forward to his remaining selections, solo, with orchestra (Max Richter's The Four Seasons Recomposed), or with piano (Alfred Schnittke's Suite in the Old Style).
In anticipation of a recital by Kenny Broberg at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on March 28, we turned to Cliburn Silver 2017 (Decca Gold). Regular listeners may recall contrasting accounts of Marc-André Hamelin's "Toccata on L'homme armé" (commissioned especially for the occasion) by the gold and bronze winners on a previous edition of our show. Broberg's personal list of his greatest hits does not include it, but we do have hear Samuel Barber's Piano Sonata in E-flat Minor, op. 26, the grand finale of his Maui program. On disc, the third movement, Adagio mesto, strikes me as opaque, but the concluding fugue, marked Allegro con spirito, bristles with energy and purpose. The audience in Fort Worth responded with a rousing ovation, as will, I hope, our island aficionados.
Our copy of our final catch, J.S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Violin (In a Circle Records ICR 10, 2 CD's), from Johnny Gandelsman, seems to suffer from some manufacturing malfunction, with skips and hiccups the dismal result. The brief Siciliana from the Sonata No. 1 in G minor BMW 1001 tracked just fine, however. The playing, as only to be expected from this searching virtuoso, is chiseled, tangy, crisp, and not infrequently spiky, too. Those who prefer their Bach genteel may want to look elsewhere. Gandelman's fiddle will keep you awake at night. Drop in on a full-length live performance courtesy of Youtube.