Alvin Lucier, "Ricochet Lady" and "So You..."
The recently composed “Ricochet Lady” (2016) is the only work for solo acoustic glockenspiel by the American experimental composer Alvin Lucier. Following in the manner of his pieces "I Am Sitting In A Room" and "Vespers," "Ricochet Lady" embodies Lucier's approach toward sound's individual function and mobility within space. This CD defines this approach through four realizations recorded in four dissimilar spaces, ranging from the standard to extraordinary: a university rehearsal hall with walls of drywall and glass, a chapel made of oak and stone, an empty forge and foundry warehouse for steel railway wheels, and a 36-meter tall dilapidated cement grain elevator.
Never one to shy away from convention, Lucier intensifies each performance by instructing that the glockenspiel be placed against a wall or other reflective surface where the soloist systematically traverses the entire range of the instrument in rapid, repetitive patterns, actively disseminating the glockenspiel’s sustain, clicks, and interferences throughout the space. In doing so, the glockenspiel maps the unique acoustical characters of each space as each space helps to compose the piece. Created in close collaboration with Trevor Saint, a rare (if not the only) specialist of experimental music for glockenspiel, Lucier has further enhanced the sophistication of this re-imagined instrument while maintaining his devotion to letting spaces speak.
So You … (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) is a major new work by legendary experimental composer Alvin Lucier. It is an hour-long epic that tracks the familiar Orpheus myth from a less familiar perspective: that of Eurydice as imagined by poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle); a Eurydice who rails at Orpheus for his hubris in attempting to rescue her.
So You … (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) was originally commissioned by Documenta 14 and first performed as part of Documenta in Athens in 2017. Two key, and formerly distinct, aspects of Lucier's practice come together in this piece: the exploration of interference patterns in closely tuned intervals, and the exploration of resonant chambers. From speakers mounted inside amphorae a constantly turning braid of beating sine waves trace the descent into the depths of hell, and then the doomed attempt to climb back into life. Singer Jessika Kenney and long-time Lucier collaborators Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis embody the three title characters in deeply focused performances that assert themselves against the process of the sweep, or become enfolded in it. The electronics were mixed in real time by programmer and equipment designer Tom Erbe. This record has all of the mind-bending acoustic effects expected from a Lucier piece, but also features a strong sense of narrative drama and flashes of raw emotion that are unexpected and deeply affecting.
More information on both albums can be found here.