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VENI ENSEMBLE: Bratislava
5 specially commissioned pieces from Christian Wolff, Alison Cameron, Tomá? Boro?, Richard Ayres and Daniel Matej performed by the always excellent Veni Ensemble (here with 2 accordionists, a synthesiser, electric guitar and 2 cellos included in the more familiar instrumentation) under the direction of Daniel Matej (whom old hands will know from his pieces in some of the old quarterlies). Beautifully recorded and played, the music seems to be able to breathe under Veni's care - knowing where it's going, and how to get there (so often not the case in contemporary music recordings). Wolff's piece has that delicate, 60s-modern music feel to it, focussed but floating - not in a panic; Cameron's dreams its way through suspended pitches and passing timbral ephemera arriving at an attenuated luminosity; Boro? employs melodic and timbral, ensemble and solo, materials in a fragmentary, episodic structure of interruptions, contrasts, irrationality and anachronism; a complex and unusual piece; Ayres works with repetition and contrasts, rather simplistically it seems to me - it's the one piece on the CD that seems aesthetically confused and over-formal to me, while Matej manipulates materials taken from Lucy in the Sky and Diamonds are Forever - with clear stylistic input from Louis Andreissen - in a far from obvious way, using two ensembles and (episodically) a kit drummer: a solid, serious piece of work . This is useful window on some interesting contemporary currents. It comes in a digipack with a 20pp booklet of texts by the composers, information about each, and a short bio of Veni.