Edition Modern Vol. 2

Iancu Dumitrescu (1944) & Ana-Maria Avram (1961):
Au dela de Movemur” for string orchestra (Dumitrescu 1990), “Monades [gamma & epsilon]” for six monochords and harryphone (Dumitrescu), “Ekagrata” for chamber orchestra (Avram 1990), “Signum Gemini” for ensemble and tape (Avram 1989), “Zodiaque [III]” for prepared pianos, percussion and tape (Avram 1990).
Participants: The National Chamber Orchestra of Romania, Jean-Louis Vicart [cond.] (“Au dela de Movemur” & Ekagrata”) – Hyperion Ensemble: Aurelian Octav Popa [clarinet], Viorcia Ciurila & Ion Ghita [percussion], Ana Maria Avram [prepared piano] (“Signum Gemini”) – Ana-Maria Avram [prepared piano], Iancu Dumitrescu [prepared piano], Doru Roman [percussion] (Zodiaque [III])
Edition Modern ED MN 1002. Duration: 65:11.

A rustling of … strings (though it could be leaves or thoughts…) begins this second CD from Iancu Dumitrescu’s Romanian label Edition Modern. The sequence of “Au dela de Movemur” repeats itself time and again, getting more intense – closer – as the double basses and other string instruments join the initial rustlers for the seven-second sequences, piling up and spreading out over the inner realms of listening. This could possibly be compared to some of Giacinto Scelsi’s works, or as a cut-up of some of his works into shorter, repeated and varied events. It also has a tilt towards the minimalistic section of the Baltic soundscape, like in the tonal world of Osvaldas Balakauskas, whose music leans heavily on the vocal folk music traditions of the region east of the Baltic Sea. The National Chamber Orchestra of Romania interprets this Dumitrescu piece with sensitivity and accuracy, displaying a beautiful tonal web.

Monades” (first movement) floats in just an inch above the floor, like a mist from a secret, green-lit dimension of the soul, or maybe from the mist of the meadow at dusk, when the fairies and the elves hover over the grass, wet from dew, in a silent minuet of the tales. The touch is very light, very passionate, like the fingertips of your lover on your face, calming, inspiring, furthering, transforming… This is a vibrant, intense, slow and sensitive act of love, in which the ecstasy moves you through a metamorphosis to a higher level of consciousness, in an extra-anatomical, out-of-the-body experience.
The second movement strengthens the impression of being in that spiritual, out-of-the-body sphere, where real reality – which is spiritual (Read Emanuel Swedenborg or “
the Tibetan Book of the Dead”!) – takes on the colors of the rainbow in a spiritual light that is the strongest light imaginable, like the one Saul saw on the way to Damascus, when he was transformed to Paul, or like the light the people who walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death will see, according to the Bible. The music carries you in a hovering, weightless, aimless clarity of thought, and your mind is a mirror that reflects the mysteries of spirit in space…

Ana-Maria Avram’s first entry on this ongoing series of issues from
Edition Modern is “Ekagrata”. This piece starts right off with a splintering percussion, interspersed with sharp blows of wind instruments. The scraping sounds of strings blend in finer touches with light-spoken xylophone-like sounds as the introductory percussions ease off. After a shorter period of gathering of strength a whole amassment of percussions explode in dark colors, in which the flickering lights of wind instruments blink. The abruptness of some passages contrast sharply to the pieces by Dumitrescu heard before on the CD. Further into “Ekagrata” I sense the feeling of ancient Greek (pre-Socrat) Mediterranean tales, in which the reflections of the golden sun on the blue expanses of the sea fondle the progression of events. This pearly, lighter percussive color blends with ornithological occurrences in the string section, advancing the music further into the realm of ancientness. The piece disappears in a distant flickering of light in the warmth of night across the Mediterranean Sea.

Signum Gemini” is Ana-Maria Avram’s second piece, and the first on CD in which she utilizes tape with the ensemble. The clarinet gets the show on the road, and at first it is almost like a piece for clarinet solo. The percussion gradually moves in with light metallic, steel blue sounds, joined by dark brown drums and the deep registers of the prepared piano. Like in “Ekagrata”, the music is harsher, more shattering, more obviously varied on a rougher scale, than the pieces we’ve heard from Iancu Dumitrescu on this CD.

Avram is also the composer of the last piece on the CD; “
Zodiaque [III]”. Here she excels in a magic, eerie aura of the tape music. The tape part is also spatial, moving around in the listening space, and the electroacoustic chords are drone-like, stretched, ominous, foreboding. Short, glistening events vibrate like a swarm of mosquitoes or lightning bugs over the drone, and percussive eruptions explode momentarily. The sound that draws your attention the most is the electronics on tape, making me think of Folke Rabe’s “Was??”, the second version. The spectrum of the overtones shifts slowly, gradually, as Avram’s piece drifts on through the space-time continuum, and you feel adrift yourself while listening, and it is a little uncomfortable; not all pleasure, but darker notions too, as if you have to avoid falling into a bottomless pit, or as if you have to hold on desperately as gravity gradually ceases its pull on your physical body…
Even identity seems to loose its hold on you as the pulses of the tape music edge their way into the inner reaches of that which is YOU, dispersing your YOU-ness far and wide in space-time… and inside, inside – way inside – in the middle of that which is you, sharp shrills of metallic percussion focuses your whole attention to that theoretical point without extension, which is your sense of YOU, and the hypnotic sounds revolve around this theoretical point, like matter revolving around a black hole of Space, eventually being sucked in behind the horizon of events…