Poul Ruders – Percussion Sounding Like War at Scandinavia House

The Times reviews Poul Ruders’ birthday performance.

As Mr. Ruders explained in a talk with the guitarist David Starobin, an organizer of this birthday concert, co-sponsored by Scandinavia House and Bridge Records, “Regime” was commissioned for a festival in Britain whose theme was world peace. Rather than write some “soft, bleeding-heart thing,” Mr. Ruders said, he composed a piece in which the audience is placed against the wall and assaulted with sound, victims of sonic attack. Listeners should be left begging for peace and realizing what a precious thing it is.

Still, as played here by Daniel Druckman, Tomoya Aomori and Kyle Brightwell, three resourceful musicians from the Juilliard Percussion Ensemble, this nine-minute piece exuded wild invention and rhythmic intricacy. It was not pounding drums and clanking metal that produced the loudest sounds, but the whistles blown by the players in complex, coordinated patterns.

At one point, as the musicians produced gently percolating rhythms from an array of wooden blocks, gongs, drums and more, they emitted a simultaneous barrage of shrill whistles. It sounded as if a police squad were breaking up a Javanese gamelan jam session that had gotten out of hand.

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