Leo Svirsky: piano; The Vociferous Choir (including Veryan Weston)

This CD from 2011 comprises two antithetic interpretations of a conception developed by Weston across the decades, antecedently formulated in an album on this same label called Tessellations For Luthéal Piano. In the first half of Different Tessellations the soloist is young and talented Leo Svirsky, credited as co-composer since he adds concentrated hues and fanciful energies to the pentatonic material upon which the whole is constructed. Indubitably a technically advanced performance, this one, also gifted with heat and boldness. Svirsky knows the instrument’s attributes like his pockets, thus it is not hard for him to conjure up altered images of fellow pianists running all over the place in a hypothetical Iréne Schweizer/Charlemagne Palestine/Keith Emerson triangular area. Spacing and timing are almost flawless, the alternance of concordance and madness (or, romanticism and crazed atonality) at optimal levels. Substantial music, showing the thorough understanding of a compositional strategy enriched by in-depth explorations of a number of expressive gamuts.

I have a problem with The Vociferous Choir’s impression instead, and not because they aren’t fine performers (on the contrary, they sound well-rehearsed and disciplined even in the sections where immunity from rules would seem to kick inside). My difficulty – representing, I stress, an entirely ad hominem issue – derives from the sense of inordinate reiteration, without excess of originative fantasy, of classifiable influences (mostly of African lineage, but I prefer listening to the original sources at that point – or to Jon Hassell’s Dream Theory In Malaya if you will) and by the disputable compatibility of some of the individual timbres: a specific female voice, don’t want to know who she is, is so damn acerbic that whatever she sings – either in tune or in trance – is irritating to these ears. Of course the rhythmical/contrapuntal action is quite catchy on occasion; however, on the long distance, the steam of intensity diminishes its pressure and, when horribly trite bebop-ish accents finally manage to rear their ugly head, we feel like asking for an immediate reissue limited to the piano solo set. We’re not exactly neighbouring Goldberg Variations, as read (and choked upon) in another comment on this rendition.

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