Satelita

Lucia Mense specialises in an instrument – the recorder – which immediately brings back memories of unruly classrooms. Here in the land of bel canto, educational programmes by successive governments (“left” or “right”, it doesn’t matter – is there a difference?) have always considered music as good as junk, and most “students” behave accordingly, using cheap plastic recorders to create teacher-exasperating cooperative chaos. But Mense is German, and has subjected her instrument of choice (a wooden one) to a steady diet of diverse genres, with particular predilection for contemporary composers – my first introduction to her work was Phill Niblock’s “Lucid Sea” on Touch Three. The program here is reasonably varied, primarily characterized, as the album title suggests, by the incidence of electronics on live performance, theoretically improved by algorithms and real-time interactions. That doesn’t imply that a “remarkable” sticker can be liberally placed everywhere, though. While Ulrich Krieger’s “Black Smoker” and Manfred Stahnke’s “ImpansionExpansion” prepare a terrain for the flute to emit semi-dissonant fluctuations and extended resonances (natural and artificial), providing us with momentous acoustic imagery and (a bit of) emotional response, pieces such as Georg Hajdu’s “Tsunami” and Sascha Lino Lemke’s “[Re:re Record a:re]” come across as little more than intellectual exercises, compositional complexity compressed into somewhat inconsistent statements. Marc Sabat’s six-part “Erbsen” stands unpretentiously somewhere in the middle. In any case, Mense’s prowess as an instrumentalist is above criticism, and allows us to forgive the weaknesses while remembering the strengths.

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