It is difficult not to remain enchanted by the 21 miniatures presented by Theresa Wong in her first solo outing. A Bay Area resident active in the world of improvisation for a number of years, having collaborated with the likes of Fred Frith, Ellen Fullman (see above), Joëlle Léandre and Rova, Wong is a technically gifted cellist who also sings and composes. The Unlearning finds her in company of Carla Kihlstedt on violin and voice in a program influenced by Francisco Goya’s Disasters Of War etchings. The material consists of fragments, sketches and haikus that, despite their brevity – some last but a few seconds – sound compact, contrapuntally evolved and at times slightly ironic, instantly giving an idea of accomplishment. The compositional concepts remain visible for the strictly necessary time, then room is given to subsequent suggestions and combinations under the same aesthetic arc. The pairing works on all levels, their instrumental prowess enhancing a tangible clarity of intents which facilitates the immediate assimilation of each track. However, calling this an “easy” record would be an error. If a couple of (vague) associations manage to arise in some of the episodes – Meredith Monk, the Halvorson/Pavone duo – they do not detract from the evident individuality of this music.


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