The Salt Lake Electric Ensemble (SLEE) announce signing with Orange Mountain Music (OMM) of New York City, NY. The record label was founded in 2001, and was developed out of a project undertaken to archive all the master recordings that Philip Glass had made. OMM will release SLEE’s recording of Glass’ classic 1970 masterwork, Music With Changing Parts, worldwide on Feb. 16. Relying on a combination of synthesis, sampling and traditional acoustic instruments SLEE’s recording is hypnotic, dreamlike, and psychedelic.
SLEE formed in 2009 with a dual purpose: to perform and record Terry Riley’s 1964 masterwork In C, and to explore music making with the most powerful and intriguing musical instrument of our time: the computer. SLEE’s 2010 recording of In C, notable for being the first rendition to primarily use electronic instruments, was lauded by critics and audiences throughout the world. Now the ensemble has turned their attention to one of the world’s most cherished and influential living composers: New York City’s Philip Glass. Glass’ extensive body of work includes symphonies, operas, chamber music, piano works and more.
SLEE views Music With Changing Parts to be a culmination of Glass’s early career. The score is comprised of a progression of 76 intricate harmonic patterns distributed across 6-8 performers who are free to repeat the patterns as many times as they wish and to play the patterns using any combination of instruments. Along with these patterns, in a number of places Glass instructs the performers to improvise a series of long held tones, to be individually selected through careful listening to the prevailing ensemble sound.
The Salt Lake Electric Ensemble have delivered an interpretation of the music that, while true to the instructions contained in the score, is thoroughly of the present moment. By employing multiple laptop computers programmed with each note from the score to assist them, the musicians of the ensemble were able to achieve exact rhythmic precision while performing, freeing them to focus on sound design and improvisation.
The recording will be available on CD from Amazon.com and saltlakeelectricensemble.com, as a download from Apple’s iTunes, and will be streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
Piano Music by Beethoven, Górecki, Brahms; Jelena Cingara, piano. ****
The diverse program on this album puts the spotlight squarely on pianist Jelena Cingara’s versatility as an interpreter and shows that she is at home in and comfortable with different stylistic periods.
First off on the disc is one of Beethoven’s earlier piano sonatas, the op. 31, no. 2, “The Tempest.” The work abounds with passionate intensity and drive in the outer movements, while the middle movement offers a lyrical interlude that balances the emotional fury of the fast movements.
Cingara offers a seamless and fluid performance that is decisive and strong in the opening and closing movements. Her playing of the slow movement is expressive and moves smoothly between the themes. This is a wonderful example of Beethoven done right.
Like Beethoven, Brahms wrote a huge body of works for piano throughout his career. The “Sechs Klavierstücke,” op. 118, which is also featured on this disc, are among his most intimate of his late piano works. The six pieces explore a wide range of emotions and expressions and Cingara captures the mood and character of each beautifully. Her playing is thoughtful and sincere and infused with passion, tenderness, lyricism and exquisite expressiveness throughout.
Balancing the works of these two giants of romanticism on this disc is an early sonata by a master of 20th/21st century music, Henryk Górecki.
His Sonata No. 1, op. 6, was originally composed in 1956, but revised twice, first in 1984, then six years later. It’s a compelling work that calls to mind Prokofiev’s piano music with its virile forcefulness and relentless rhythmic energy.
Here Cingara showcases her virtuosity and interpretative skills. It’s a dynamic, compelling and unflinching perusal of this work, infused with energy and drama. Her playing is intense and effusive, and she holds nothing back in her decisive and impassioned reading. She breathes life into this work and makes it appealing and exciting.