AMN Reviews: Richard Teitelbaum – Solo Live

Richard Teitelbaum: Solo Live [Mutable Music 17548-2]

The two pieces on this release are based on an ongoing experiment in playing to ambient sounds that composer/performer Richard Teitelbaum first conducted in the early 1970s. Teitelbaum in effect posits a zone of overlap between composed or improvised music and the accidental sounds of the environment surrounding it. Rather than contrasting the two types of sounds, Teitelbaum seeks to integrate them into a considered synthesis of the deliberate and the contingent.

Both pieces on the CD were recorded live at Baltimore’s An die Musik in April 2009. Threshold Symphonies, the long opening track, features the composer on Kurzweil 2000 sampler. Teitelbaum takes sounds from a wide variety of sources and constructs them into an audio mosaic in which they are sometimes recognizable and sometimes not, but always absorbing. Like a stain-soak abstract painting made of vivid colors, the piece is made up of multiple layers, with each layer leaving enough transparency to allow the underlayers to show through. One can hear the sounds of wildlife, human voices and musical instruments set within more ambiguous electronic sounds, some of which are reminiscent of the just-beyond-grasp murmurings of imagined voices heard in a hypnagogic state. Threshold Symphonies is followed by the shorter but still substantial TBCi/bRT, an improvisation for (mostly) acoustic instruments. The palette here is more constrained and is dominated by the piano, which sets out shimmering, sometimes discordant harmonies as landmarks throughout the course of the work.

This is a fine addition to Teitelbaum’s recorded oeuvre.