AMN Reviews: Sidney Bailin – 16-2-60-N-5 Works for Electronics & Piano [Ravello RR7933]

rr7933 - 16-2-60-n-5 - front coverThis first release of works by composer-mathematician Sidney Bailin represents a kind of cyclical return to an earlier field of practice. Bailin studied music with Roger Sessions, Otto Luening, Darius Milhaud and others before abandoning it for advanced studies in mathematics; more recently he has returned to composing for acoustic and electronic instruments.

Two of the three works on this CD are predominantly electronic. Speak, Child, and Reeds by the Shore were composed in the Audacity audio editing program using acoustic sound samples as source material. The former layers and manipulates recordings of Bailin’s infant son’s voice and percussion toys, making particularly effective use of the apparent spatialization of sound; the latter superimposes electronic facsimiles of saxophone and percussion over a recording of a piano repeating a single note. Space Rocks: Shapes and Shadows, performed by pianist Karolina Rojahn, is an engaging three-part work for prepared and unprepared piano that appropriates the ordinarily austere, discontinuous language of late modernism and turns it toward lyrical—and at times even romantic–ends.

Daniel Barbiero