Le Riviere des Oiseaux

La Riviere La Riviere des Oiseaux is the album name and the name of the first three pieces, Rio de los Pajaros, Rio de los Pajoros Escondidos, and Rio de los Pajaros Azules. Rio de los Pajaros builds from a single “call,” repeated several times at the beginning and recurring throughout in many guises, into a piece as complex and interesting and various as one could wish for. Rio de los Pajoros Escondidos opens with a great rush of sound and is altogether darker and more spacious sounding than its predecessor, at least for the first three minutes. At that point little licks from Rio de los Pajaros enter in and you realize that La Riviere des Oiseaux isn’t just some fanciful title for a collection of related pieces but a designation of a three part piece, tightly and intricately integrated. Each part distinct; each part part of a whole, as Rio de los Pajaros Azules announces in its opening, which combines the dramatic opening of Rio de los Pajoros Escondidos with music you know already from the first two pieces. If it weren’t for the palpable beauties of those two, I’d say that Rio de los Pajaros Azules is the most varied and interesting of the three. Best to just say that La Riviere des Oiseaux is a most satisfying piece of music and leave it at that!

The rest of the album consists of four pieces, two from before La Riviere des Oiseaux— Medisances (1968) and L’Orvietan (1970) —and two from after— Vivencias (2001) and Cantos de Antes (2002). Medisances has a long, slow introduction that takes up almost half the piece and yet doesn’t make anything seem imbalanced or disproportionate. I don’t know why. I often play this for friends new to electroacoustic music, one because it’s short and two because it’s sweet. And three because it never fails to win new friends for new music. L’Orvietan explores various possibilities of a buzzing sound, possibilities so many that I almost didn’t use the word buzzing. But there it is. However far from that it gets, that’s where it starts and that’s where it comes back to. Vivencias and Cantos de Antes, while only a year apart, could not be more different (c.f. the remark about protean for the green album). Vivencias uses all sorts of sounds, including some very tasty drums near the beginning, and weaves them all seamlessly. Until about halfway through, when the routine is broken up by several pauses. Or perhaps, the routine becomes the pauses. Cantos de Antes, on the other hand, consists largely of voices, broken up into musical lines, so that there’s no speech left, as such, but still recognizably humans. Perhaps there’s one similarity—Cantos de Antes is just as active and mercurial a piece as Vivencias, and certainly more amusing.

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