MICHAEL PELZEL (b.1978): Mysterious Anjuna Bell (Ensemble ascolta, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra; Peter Rundel), Carnaticaphobia (ensemble recherche), Gravity’s Rainbow (Ernesto Molinari [CLEX], Basel Sinfonietta; Rundel), “Alf” Sonata (Noëlle-Anne Darbellay [violin], Samuel Stoll [horn]), Danse diabolique (WDR Symphony Orchestra; Bas Wiegers).
Catalogue Number: 02V074
Description: Pelzel is a great sonic alchemist; the inexhaustibly inventive creator of a superabundant richness of teeming sonic forms that threaten to overload the senses, yet are subject to a rigorous structural dramaturgy. Mysterious Anjuna Bell is a sometimes overwhelming, sometimes meditative piece full of every possible bell sonority. The composer has a fascination with the Carnatic music of South India, which is reflected in his constantly bending pitches and long, efflorescent lines; this work makes reference to a town in Goa, India, home to historic Portuguese churches but also a destination for westerners seeking ‘enlightenment', and both seem to be referenced in the piece. The whole piece resonates, in every sense; aside from the unearthly glissandoing pitches of the electric guitar and the resonant percussion, even pulsating passages of string orchestra texture crescendo like sympathetic vibrations gone out of control, threatening to shake apart the very fabric of the music. In its climaxes the effect is of being submerged in a tumultuous ocean of bells. Carnaticaphobia (2017) features the piano, with damped bass strings producing a thunderous drum sound, throughout, with glissandi and extended playing from the cello and bell sounds in percussion, again suggesting some arcane ritual. Gravity's Rainbow - any connection to Pynchon's novel is not explained in the notes - is a concerto for the unearthly basso profondississimo sound of the CLEX (a contrabass clarinet with an electronic key actuating mechanism). Having spent most of the piece being restrained and dignified in its sepulchral register, surrounded by rich, opulent, iridescent bell-sounds from the orchestra, the solo part suddenly breaks loose in an anarchic cadenza, baying and yelling like a thing possessed. It then leads the other forces in a wild dance that sounds as though Messiaen's Easter Island statues had uprooted themselves for a night of revelry, before returning to the mood of the first section. The ALF Sonata was written for the Zurich artist collective Jetpack Bellerive, for a 2014 "encounter between New Music and popular TV series", and refers to the 1980s sitcom. The instrumental parts are wild and irreverent, and include vocalizations; recorded samples of the TV show theme music are included. Danse diabolique explores similar territory to 'Bell' and 'Rainbow' in a dense, sonorous, resounding tapestry of brutal orchestral sounds, subterranean snarling and a terrifying sense of obscene dæmonic revelry (in triple time, with overt references to Ravel's La valse).