FABRICE BOLLON (b. 1965): Your Voice Out of the Lamb for Recorders, Keyboards, Cello and Orchestra (Michala Petri [recorders]. Per Salo [keyboards], Michaela Fukačová [cello], Odense Symphony Orchestra; Christoph Poppen), Four Lessons of Darkness - Concerto for ElectricCello and Orchestra (Johannes Moser [cello], Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern; Nicholas Milton), Dogmatic Pleasures (Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra; Jader Bignamini).
Catalogue Number: 09W061
Description: Rather unexpected and difficult to classify, this. Bollon is well known as a major international conductor, well versed in all kinds of music and with an especial flair for the contemporary. His highly eclectic compositional style, though, while very obviously drawing from this aspect of his career and his conservatory training, takes its influences and inspirations from all over the spectrum, including the tools and techniques of 'popular' music - also a very wide range thereof - though he wholeheartedly repudiates the term "crossover". He inveighs against ivory tower élitism, though thankfully not in defense of simple-minded populism like some of his contemporaries; the breadth of his artistic credo is worth quoting in extenso: "It is not my purpose to make art more understandable, but it is my purpose to be understandable even in the parts that are very complex. The complexity is not the purpose of the art in itself, it is my choice to write in this way, if I decide to do so. The purpose of writing is to express, and make what is being expressed understandable and convincing." So, there is instrumental virtuosity and textural complexity in abundance in these works, and depth of concept and expression, but also an emphasis on accessibility, which generally translates to one form or another of tonality, and clear rhythmic intelligibility. Everything else is a highly controlled and meticulously crafted free-for-all. Your Voice out of the Lamb is probably the most unusual concerto that Michala Petri has ever had written for her. The title refers to the ambitious, eclectic double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by the band Genesis, to which Bollon makes oblique references. Most of the members of the recorder family are employed, from the contrabass instrument to the chirruping little garkleinflötlein. The first movement sets the scene with sonorous looped and pulsating bass sounds, then in the second the soloist emerges into the foreground in episodes that owe something to minimalism and something to gamelan music. The movement is energetic, rhythmic and increasingly frenetic, involving synthesizers and chorus effects applied to the solo instruments; the movement ends with a slow heartbeat and a return to the looped sonorities of the opening, which lead into the mysterious, electronic effects-laden third movement. The tempo increases dramatically, with flights of high register virtuosity for the soloist, interrupted briefly by a blast of big band, then finally settling on a lively scherzo which is joined by the big band and the Mighty Wurlitzer to propel the music into the exuberant finale. The Concerto for Electric Cello and Orchestra is a powerful, dark, unsettling work, using the full palette of electronically augmented sounds available to the solo instrument. The movements are named for the four elements; Earth, a static, dark lament with sudden, impassioned outbursts; Fire, appropriately volcanic, the cello employing the kind of thick distorted processing more usually associated with electric guitars, the rhythms pounding and ominous; Water, ethereal and insubstantial in loops, eddies and waves; and Air, energetic and raucous, then ominous and expectant, incorporating tributes to Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, and ending explosively with a percussive psychedelic funk cadenza for drums and heavily processed cello. Dogmatic Pleasures are relatively conventional, lighthearted orchestral pieces, which hint at Bollon's long-standing working partnership with Kagel, the first built of scales 'in the styles of'; the second a huge impressive march on one chord; the third busy, repetitive and jazzy, with a toe-tapping Latin rhythm.