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Tangled Pipes (Nonclassical) - Best Classical Albums of 2010
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Tangled Pipes Review
I’ll admit my initially skeptical reaction to receiving English recorder quintet Consortium5’s album Tangled Pipes was parochial. After all, is there a more stigmatized instrument in the American musical conscience than the recorder? Well before I listened to the CD, I was fearful of its tracks recalling horrifying memories of the ignorant squeaks that filled my elementary school music class. However, I was quickly rebuffed by Consortium5’s otherworldly sound. Listening to Tangled Pipes was one of the most pleasantly surprising audience experiences I’ve had in a long time. Not only did the new recorder quintet music on Tangled Pipes reveal an uncharted world of timbre wavering between acoustic and electronic sounds, but the inclusion of hip and well produced track remixes also made the album a unique musical object I’m happy to own.
It is really hard for me to describe the different sounds you’ll encounter when you listen to Tangled Pipes. True, the instruments are all recorders, just like you would hear on an authentically performed concert of baroque or renaissance music; however, Consortium5 uses them in ways I could have never imagined. Many of the tracks, such as Darren Bloom’s Consorts and Richard Lannoy’s Tangled Pipes use percussive sounds akin to tongue rams and concise over-blowing on a flute. Mr. Bloom’s piece also uses remarkable glissandi and double-tongued licks that transport these ostensibly humble instruments to a vibrant and relevant sound world. Along the same lines, Brian Inglis uses overblowing, multiphonics, key clicks and flutter-tonguing to create contrasting ritornellos against the traditional counterpoint and folksy chorale around which his work, Burmese Pictures, rotates.
The four remaining pieces I have to discuss seem less like they hoped to show off the well kept secret of the recorder’s flexibility in terms of extended techniques and timbre. Rather, they are artfully crafted musical works enlivened by their unique instrumentation. Kathryn Butler’s Chanterelle, Brooks Frederickson’s ironically titled Quintet for Fifteen Recorders and Kim Ashton’s Dots harkened to the sound mass trends of the late 1960s and 1970s. Yet, the distinctive and beautiful freshness of Consortium5’s sound prevented these three compositions from sounding cliché, which may have happened had they been written for strings or another more commonplace ensemble. The final original work of the album – Luke Styles’ Three Stages – was a perfect capstone to the commissioned music featured on Tangled Pipes. Elegantly through-composed, Three Stages unwittingly refers to all the sounds and textures of the preceding tracks in a long-form exploration of contrasting musical images.
I’ve rushed through the original compositions featured on the album because they comprise only half of the album’s contents. The final ten tracks of Tangled Pipes are remixes drawn from the master recordings of the six compositions that open the CD. Spanning the realm of electronic music from Aphex Twin to musique concrète, these works further amplified the one-of-a-kind nature of the music included on this CD. Furthermore, I found these remixes a brilliant move on the part of Consortium5 for two reasons: they more deeply exploited the sonic similarities between recorders’ pure timbre and synthesized sounds and also adds value to seeking out Tangled Pipes individually, instead of only interacting with Consortium5 in their concerts. A critical difference between art music and commercial music is that the latter makes the recording its ultimate product and uses recording techniques to make the aural experience of an album impossible to reproduce in at a live show. Concert music, of course, is more attentive to hearing performances firsthand, so – more often than not – a CD of art music will play like a solo recital or orchestral concert. Tangled Pipes does both and makes an innovative contribution to the world of concert music recordings.
Essentially, Consortium5’s performances on Tangled Pipes
provide a listening experience than can satisfy any listener from
dedicated supporters of modernism to lovers of house music and other
electronic genres. From the cloudlike harmonies on the opening track –
Kathryn Butler’s Chantarelle – to the phaux drum-and-bass of Radioproof’s
Elemental Remix from the album’s home stretch, Tangled
Pipes impressively bridges vastly diverse musical worlds – early
music, modernism and electronica, among others – without breaking a
sweat. Consortium5 has earned all the praise critics can muster by
reinventing consort music, but Tangled Pipes contributes to
more than the niche of contemporary recorder performance. The stylistic
variety and innovative production techniques featured on Tangled
Pipes compellingly suggest a new frontier for chamber ensembles
and the world of art music CDs.
Garrett Schumann, 21st December 2010.
'...But PLG always
chooses well, so it is
unlikely that the musicians heard will be anything less than
top-notch...Consortium5 is a group of five
former students from the
The members of
Consortium5 played The
Court Jester from memory, as they also did the first performance of
Frederickson’s Quintet for Fifteen Recorders. Yes, there are 15
recorder – from sopranino to subbass (the latter a big beast indeed!).
a top to bottom investigation of the instruments’ potential. Stealing
though, was the premiere (to a PLG commission) of David Bedford’s
and Cadenzas on a theme from Susato’s ‘Danserye’, which began as the
made their return from backstage, the jaunty theme itself ideally
recorders and then treated to some brilliant variants (occasionally
the musicians playing two instruments simultaneously!). With the
sometimes masquerading as penny-whistles and accordions (in terms of
Bedford’s whimsical imagination has created a mischievous scamp of a
really brightens the spirits.'
'...The other event I shall long remember was a morning
recital by an accomplished recorder quintet.
Peter Grahame Woolf'
For the full review of the festival go to: http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/festivals/uk/GreenwichEMF2008.html
|Consortium5 are a group of five
recorder players who met at London’s
Royal Academy of Music. They have already had some success in
competitions, and one prestigious award enabled them to buy an
impressive set of renaissance recorders. As well as early music, they
also commission works from present day composers for their period
instruments. Their two programmes gave a very good overview of the
range of consort music suitable, if not explicitly written, for
recorders. They made excellent contact with the audience, helped by
making very good use of the wide stage area available to them. In Tye’s
‘Crye’ In Nomine, for example, they sat well apart, each directly
facing the audience in an ‘everyone for themselves’ approach that
exactly fitted the mood and virtuosic content of the piece. I
particularly liked their willingness to explore the humorous side of
the music, notably in concertos by Boismortier. Inga Maria Klaucke gave
attractive spoken introductions to the pieces, and the whole group
coped very well with some tricky questions from the audience about
resultant tones in the preliminary concert. This talented and
well-presented young group are just the thing to dispel the myths that
seem to surround recorder groups in this country.
20th July 2007
by David Denton
|The result of this year's Early
Music competition must have been close
to call, the eventual winners, Le Jardin Secret, receiving concerts,
broadcasts and that most valuable debut recording as part of their
prize. Five very differing groups had come through to the final
presented through one long day. The result must have stunned those who
had Consortium5 as the runaway winners, the five attractive young
ladies playing a fabulous set of recorders in listener-friendly music,
both looked and sounded the most marketable group on view, even if
recorders are not normally your scene. The Oboe Band, with the unusual
line-up of three oboes and a bassoon, would have been in the final
frame until some finger-twisting passages rather caught them out, and
maybe the sleekly efficient Saraband Consort could have chosen a better
programme. Then just to display their perversity, the audience prize
also went to Le Jardin Secret, the group's performance having enjoyed a
cool audience response.
24th April 2007
| Rare Sounds at the Rüschhaus:
Consortium5 offered an engaging tour across epochs, countries and
musical styles in the historical venue of the Rüschhaus (Münster,
Germany). The numerous guests relished the accomplished and intriguing
recorder concert, and expressed their gratitude for such a musical
treat with long applause.
5th April 2007
|Consortium5's fare is about as
far as you can get from painful
school-day recorder recitals of Frère Jacques - they perform a
considerable repertoire on a staggering range of instruments... ...from
the cloudy tones of the 6ft sub-bass recorder to the virtuoso descant,
this 45-minute concert of Renaissance and Baroque quartets, with a
couple of contemporary pieces thrown in for good measure, was not short