Chrysopée Electronique-Bourges

Green Album Ferreyra is that rare composer whose output can be genuinely described as protean. This can be most convincingly heard on the Chrysopée Electronique-Bourges cd, also called “the green album.” Two pieces are from the seventies (1972 and 74); three are from the eighties (1985, 86, and 87), and they couldn’t be more different from each other.
Souffle d’un petit Dieu distrait opens with some microtonal weaving, which broadens out into a very quick oscillation, over which a variety of gestures begin to orbit. That gradually changes into descending figures, which are replaced (smoothly and gradually) by spacious dark swoops of sounds. Not until almost halfway through are there silences separating the sounds—a change that’s quite startling, even though the sounds are the same as we’ve been hearing for the past five minutes. It’s a simple effect that’s simply effective: you cannot help but start to listen more closely to each event when they’re separated by silences. Even after the music goes back to a continuous flow, you still feel very much on the qui vive, so that the last few minutes, which reverse the opening minutes of the piece, sound much more dramatic and engaging, even though the music is getting quieter and simpler. The very ending is simply perfect.
The opening of The U.F.O. Forest moves quickly, and the changes are fast and startling. Even the (relative) calm that follows the turbulent opening is, at first, full of things that startle. Most of the piece, however, is quiet, full of chirping, twittering sounds (even, eventually, honking and quacking sounds)—all calm and calming as it slowly descends into silence.

The child who relates the story of Tom Thumb in Petit Poucet magazine is so charming and full of personality, you may forgiven for forgetting, at least for the first couple of hearings, that this is a very sophisticated and carefully constructed piece of music, in which the voice is subordinated to the music, even when it’s not being taken up and broken into purely musical gestures, in which the overriding logic is clearly musical and not narrative—even though the piece is full of illustrative effects. So strongly are these presented, that I had to force myself to use the word “illustrative,” which, however accurate, gives a false impression of the sound world of this piece.

From seventies come Canto del Loco and Siesta Blanca. The former a crazy little song made up of voice-like sounds that go in and out of sounding fairly natural and extremely synthetic and the latter a delicious piece that opens with a snappy little Piazzolla accordion bit that’s brutally cut short by a sharp, metallic sound. Follows several minutes of drone over which there’s some long, isolated tones that almost make a tune but not quite. After about four of this, there’s a moment of increased tension, produced almost entirely by rhythm—only after then tension’s been wound up sufficiently does the music get loud. (There is a bit of crescendo, but not much. It’s a remarkable passage.) Then after a long (genuine) crescendo is the first of two accordion eruptions. A most engaging piece, the one on this album I return to most frequently.

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