Erçetin, originally from Istanbul, is a Berlin-based composer and this is the first release to contain music exclusively his. The disc contains three pieces, all recorded live (two versions of one): a string quartet, a work for vocal ensemble presented twice and a large-scale composition consisting of four intermixed ensembles.
'String Quartet No. 2: contra-statement' (2012), performed by the Arditti Quartet, is by far the highlight of the disc for this listener. An intricate, crystalline series of shifting, dry tones, evanescing into almost nothing, re-forming into gossamer strands, occasionally entwining into more substantial, writhing, sinuous cords. The music is intense, probing and extremely well performed. There follow two realizations of 'im keller' (2016). Erçetin uses "seeds", various instantiations of ensembles that are situated in different areas of a space, often overlapping. These are site-specific works (the two tracks here recorded in different environs) and likely depend a good deal on the listener occupying the same space as the musicians. Here, the first grouping is two sopranos and electronics, the second, four male voices and electronics. All well and good, except that the actual music, wordless, often ethereal moans and cries, is at heart very similar to any number of such experiments from the 60s on (if not prior). They may well be dealing with the sonic particularities of the room in which they're performing, and a certain amount of atmospheric resonance does seep through the recording, but one still has the feeling that whatever sensual thrills may have been encountered in situ, the essential musical material is thin.
This is also somewhat the case for the title work (2017), scored "for four simultaneous chamber ensembles". The color range is wide and there's a good balance between calm, breathing sections and more frenetic ones. Again, one can imagine, and visualize via the photos in the extensively detailed accompanying booklet, how this may have played out in a live situation. The music is more engaging, to these ears, than the vocal works that preceded, but again sounds redolent of work done decades ago. On the one hand, this offers no particular problem and can be enjoyed on its own; the playing sounds fine and the recording is clear and pristine (the scores, some pages from which are included in the booklet, are beautiful objects in their own right and look fascinating). On the other, one desires to hear more acknowledgement of what's transpired in the world in the intervening years. Depending on expectations, listeners may well derive great enjoyment from the level of performance and intricacy of the constructions.
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