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Beuger, Antoine : Two . Too (For Erwin-Josef Speckmann) (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Jurg Frey on clarinet and Irene Kurka on soprano vocals perform Wandelweiser composer Antoine Beuger's extended composition "Two"; then the duo of Rhodri Davies on harp and Ko Ishikawa on sho are layered on the first recording, creating a refreshingly new take on the piece.

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product information:

UPC: 4011778041634

Label: Edition Wandelweiser Records
Catalog ID: EWR 0903/04
Squidco Product Code: 21823

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: Germany
Packaging: Cardstock 4 page foldover
Recorded at Hann, March 29, 2009 (Kurka, Frey) and Tokyo, March 4, 2006 (Ishikawa, Davies)


Rhodri Davies-harp

Ko Ishikawa-Sho

Irene Kurka-soprano vocals

Jurg Frey-clarinet

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track listing:

CD 1

1. Two (For Erwin-Josef Speckmann) 58:26

CD 2

1. Too (For Erwin-Josef Speckmann) 62:07

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Duo Recordings
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Two discs, the first an almost hour-long duet, "two", with Irene Kurka (soprano) and Jürg Frey (clarinet). The voice and clarinet alternate long, pure tones, Kurka very gradually singing the text: "as the full moon rises/the swan sings/in sleep/on the lake of the mind" (Kenneth Rexroth). The pair kind of seesaw back and forth, very calm and deliberate, reciting the words one at a time but repeating each many, many times, changing pitch with each advance in the poem. Beuger's concern for space is evident; it spools out slowly, like a thread in water. I find myself first rather entranced, then gradually bored, then fascinated again, going back and forth on an even slower pendulum than the performers. Ultimately, I found my attention wandering around the 40 minute mark.

But then there's "too". I had first listened to it without having read Richard's analysis of the piece (with the help of info from the composer). I would have realized after another listen or two, I think, that the underlying body of "too" was precisely the same recording just heard, but I never guessed that the "accompanying" duo of Rhodri Davies (Irish harp) and Ko Ishikawa (sho) had been lifted from a Hibari recording done in 2006 (one I don't own) and transplanted, the 20 minute track laid three times in succession over "two", just overlapping it on each end, tucking it in. Perhaps a closer examination of the recording dates may have hinted as much, but the two performances are so well integrated that the notion may never have crossed my mind. Technical details aside, the addition of Davies and Ishikawa absolutely open up the work. What was once intriguing if a bit arid now just blossoms. The Hibari recording also contained large amounts of space so there's never the slightest sense of overcrowding (indeed there remain, still, many moments when none of the four are creating sound). It may be due in substantial part to the affinity between the four voices, the harp providing a soft percussiveness that lovingly accents the smoother tones from voice, clarinet and mouth organ. There are times when the voice and sho are in almost perfect unison, others when the harp seems to be supplying just the right counterpoint. It's an inspired, not to say unusual choice, and Beuger aced it, an impressive decision. "too" becomes a rapturous experience, well more than the sum of its parts."-Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

Get additional information at Brian Olewnick's Just Outside

Artist Biographies:

"Ko Ishikawa is a Sho (Japanese bamboo mouth organ) player and is a member of the Gagaku ensemble "Reigakusha". He was born in Tokyo in 1963 and studied Sho and Gagaku music with masters Mayumi Miyata, Hideaki Bunno and Shiba Sukeyasu." (

"Jürg Frey was born in 1953 in Aarau, Switzerland. Following his musical education at the Concervatoire de Musique de Genève, he turned to a career as a clarinetist, but his activities as composer soon came to the foreground. Frey developed his own language as a composer and sound artist with the creation of wide, quiet sound spaces. His work is marked by an elementary non-extravagence of sound, a sensibilty for the qualities of the material, and precision of compositional approach. His compositions sometimes bypass instrumentation and duration altogether and touch on aspects of sound art. He has worked with compositional series, as well as with language and text. Some of these activities appear in small editions or as artist's books as individual items and small editions (Edition Howeg, Zurich; weiss kunstbewegung, Berlin; complice, Berlin). His music and recordings are published by Edition Wandelweiser. Frey has been invited to workshops as visiting composer and for composer portraits at the Universität der Künste Berlin, the Universität Dortmund and several times at Northwestern University and CalArts. Some of the other places his work has developed are the concerts at the Kunstraum Düsseldorf, the Wandelweiser-in-Residence-Veranstaltungen in Vienna, the Ny music concerts in Boras (Sweden), the cooperation with Cologne pianist John McAlpine, the Bozzini Quartet (Montréal), QO-2 (Bruxelles), Die Maulwerker, incidental music, as well as the regular stays in Berlin (where during the last years many of his compositions were premiered). Frey is a member of the Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble which has presented concerts for more than 15 years in Europe, North America and Japan. Frey also organizes the concert series moments musicaux aarau as a forum for contemporary music."

-Other Minds (

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