AMN Reviews: Ted Moore – Gilgamesh & Enkidu [Ravello RR7926]

rr7926 -gilgamesh-eknkiduGilgamesh and Enkidu is Minnesota composer Ted Moore’s recasting of the ancient Akkadian epic poem as a six-movement work for string quartet and electronics.

For Moore as both composer and musician, the integration of electronics with acoustic instruments puts him on known ground. His compositions frequently involve the use of SuperCollider for real-time sound processing and manipulation, and he regularly performs on laptop with wind player Kyle Hutchens in the improvisational duo Binary Canary.

For Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Moore augmented a traditional string quartet with himself on laptop. The string instruments’ sounds were fed into SuperCollider, which Moore used to create a fifth line cued from and complementing the strings’ lines. The presence of the electronics is subtle and serves to maintain the work’s focus on the writing for the strings. These in turn make equally subtle use of extended techniques, which are used in the service of the expressive content of the quartet rather than as ends in themselves. Still, they can provide significant thematic material, as for example in the first movement, when the cello plays a motif centered on bouncing the wood of the bow on and off the strings, or in the third movement, where the quartet’s expressive counterpoint unravels into siren-like, descending glissandi.

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Daniel Barbiero