(Mutable)

Baritone Thomas Buckner is a veritable foundation of the new music scene, having collaborated with an incredible list of contemporary composers over the course of a lengthy career, also characterized by more experimental ventures in the field of improvisation. Here he tackles three of them, adapting his characteristics to a series of variegated scores that, although different in their development, yield absolutely fascinating results. Annea Lockwood’s “Luminescence” is a song cycle whose lyrics were penned by poet Etel Adnan; the piece – born from a shared love of the Pacific Ocean by the contributors – sounds a bit like the soundtrack to a complicated kind of fairy tale, Buckner inserting daydreaming and intense reflection on Petr Kotik’s S.E.M. Ensemble’s splendid execution, the third movement’s slowly wavering harmony the highlight in this sense. Kotik himself is the originator of the long “Conceptuality/Life”, a difficult score based on a text by R. Buckminster Fuller where the vocal element is only present in circumscribed sections, the instrumental balance maintained by an accurate depiction of frames where the bravura of the single instrumentalists is in continuous evidence. My overall favourite is Tania León’s “Canto”, a group of five rather short poems by various writers including the most touching moment of the whole disc: “Canción de Cuna” by Iraida Iturralde, a complex lullaby in which the combination between Buckner’s heartfelt interpretation and (ensemble) Continuum’s hypersensitive playing – with a fabulous Kristina Reiko Cooper on cello – seems to represent a portrait of serenity amidst intriguing technical difficulties.

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