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Monday, October 1, 2018

Roger Reynolds, Aspiration, Irvine Arditti

When life goes on every day, it sometimes manages to gather forces of entropy to hinder you in the simplest of tasks. This morning the combination of lost reading glasses ("They are somewhere.") and  a broken reading lamp means I absolutely cannot make head nor tail of the CD textual matter. For so many years designers have done their best to disguise all text and render it all unreadable, put that together with the current state of affairs and I am crippled.

The current album, from what I can make out and what I hear is a series of works for violin with or without accompaniment. The album highlights the Inauthentica chamber outfit, conducted by Mark Menzies, Paul Hembree on computer realizations. and most importantly Irvine Arditti on violin. It is a two-CD set of Roger Reynold's violin works written for Arditti, all fashioned between 1992-2015. The set is entitled Aspirations (Kairos 0015051KAI 2-CDs).

"Shifting/Drifting"  for violin and real-time algorithmic transformation (2015) kicks off the program. "imagE/violin  imAge/violin" for solo violin (2015) occurs next. The title work "Aspiration" follows for solo violin and chamber orchestra (2004-5). "Kokoro" for solo violin (1991-92) concludes the program.

All that must suffice as the nuts and bolts of this release. On the listening level it is above all a truly unpretentious monument to latter-day Modernist music for solo violin. The half of the program involving some form of accompaniment shows a totally sympathetic additional musical voice or voices. Nevertheless  it all is very squarely centered on the very idiomatically original modern expressiveness of the violin part.  It is exploratory and virtuoso in its subtle dash, and it seems tailored to what corresponds nicely to the musical personality of Arditti himself, not showy for its own sake, very much imbued with the urge toward expressive elegance and brilliance of means, and in a harmonically expanded High Modernist idiom for which of course Reynolds is a natural master. This is not music as contrived in some arch manner by the composer. It is as natural as speaking and as eloquent as brilliant word flow.

After a few listen one falls into the spell of it all, the beautiful rightness of Arditti's playing, the perfect thus-ness of accompaniment and the spare profundity of the solo space.

This program is in every way a winner--with excellence of sound and sound staging, performance brilliance and compositional inspiration, together sequencing and smarts.

Aspiration demands your attention and rewards with high complexity-in-continuity. It is a Modern gem for all who want to know where we are today. I suggest this is a do-not-miss! I am happy to have it.

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