5* recommendation for HatArt disc in NZM

Dietrich Heißenbüttel, Empfehlung: Liza Lim Orchestral Works, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 2/2015 or online link

A chant provides the pitch; an invocation. Merely a short sequence of four descending notes, yet highly unusual for a CD of orchestral works: it is neither the sound of European art music nor one defined by the tempered chromatic scale. Liza Lim catapults the listeners of The Compass far outside the concert hall. But then, when the phrase is intoned for the third time, a low note is added; claves; trombones; a multi-faceted array of percussion instruments, piano, cellos, and the ever-vital flute of Carin Levine. Once William Barton stops singing, the drama escalates further to a first climax before he brings the orchestra back down to earth, calming its seeming collapse in all directions with earthy sounds from the didgeridoo, underlaid by timpani. At first glance, it may seem risky to bring such widely-diverging sonic worlds together. It is more than simply a juxtaposition, however: one can listen to the didgeridoo as a musical instrument that produces an extraordinary wealth of timbres; and one can also hear the voices of animals, birds, even spirits in the flute part and orchestral colours. At any rate, listeners are left with little time to think about this, as the dynamic flow of events, even at points of temporary repose filled with noise-like sounds, majestic trombone notes and brief moments of silence, never lets them go. The two soloists are also breathtaking, breathing new radiance time and again into the multi-coloured orchestral setting, primed by the introductory chant. But Liza Lim does not need exotic instruments: in the second piece, Pearl, Ochre, Hair String, it is the cello that brings a wealth of overtones into play using a special bow. Rhythmic wooden drums, shimmering string and wind colours: the music is no less dramatic, and here too one can feel as if on a strange journey, where sounds of the spheres bring forth light from a different world. Lim has occupied herself with the aesthetic categories of Aboriginal art, which she here transfers to the large ensemble of the symphony orchestra. This produces equally captivating results, from the first minute to the last, with the two excellent orchestras and three conductors that recorded the three works on the CD at the Herkulessaal in the Munich Residenz and at the Donaueschingen Festival. In the third work, The Guest, a trumpet plunges right into the middle of things, but then it is the recorder sounds from Jeremias Schwarzer that transport us, sliding and lurching like a bird of paradise, into a magic forest. Orchestral landscapes and sonorous, virtuosic recorder sounds give each other enough space to emerge. Outstanding. (translation by Wieland Hoban)

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