COUPER, GOSFIELD, OLIVEROS, HOVDA, CUSTER, ONO: If Tigers were Clouds
A fine and important collection of so-called maverick works by women in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Very varied, always challenging. The first two pieces - by Mildred Couper (written in 1930, before any of the other contributors were even born) and Annie Gosfield (b.1960) - are exemplary: Couper's for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart and Gosfield's for brain-twisting percussion and bass-clarinet, employing complex simultaneous metres. Pauline Oliveros does what she does; Eleanor Hovda (born 1940) manages, more or less, to make an electronic work with acoustic resources, Beth Custer, using sound sculptures and invented instruments, offers an eccentric song and Zeitgeist ensemble realises a Yoko Ono/Fluxus score. In addition, there is an improvisation using the legendary Arthur Ferris' forgotten instruments. Built mostly in the 1920s these were extended string families: many necked viols, harps, &c. I'm not at all sure how this track fits here (Ferris was male and all the players bar one are male too, but I'm not complaining. It's good to hear the instruments). There are three extra pieces accessible only from a computer, another 1/4 tone piano duet by Mildred Couper, another Ferris instrument improvisation, and Johanna M Beyer's 1932 Suite for Bb Clarinet. 26 minutes in all. If only for the chance to hear Mildred Couper, Ferris' instruments and Annie Gosfield, this is a hit.