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Album Review

This is a discussion of a piece of music that was improvised in studio, but fixed into the form of a composition when the improvised tracks were added to by overdubbing, addition of synthesized sound and samples, and other post-production manipulation. (It is discussed as a composition on a linked page.)

The heart of the music is the astonishing set of performances by master percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The recording was made from October 12 to 16, 1998 in Whitfield Street Studios, London, a space that was literally filled wall to wall with much of Glennie's vast collection of standard, exotic, unique, and often homemade percussion instruments. The Instrumentarium also included noisy children's toys, Glennie's favorite bagpipes, and an assortment of music boxes, including one that played Tea for Two in the foreground while others chimed away at various distances.

Producer and mix-master Michael H. Brauer obviously had an intelligent and versatile mike set-up that could follow Glennie's moves from one instrument to another, often on the spur of the moment. (Re-takes, splices, and editing were impossible, as Glennie's basic performances were truly spontaneous.) This worked out particularly well in the astonishing twenty-eight minute movement called "Land of Vendon," which is just one track, one take also featuring pianist Philip Smith.

Glennie plays with amazing versatility, precision and drive. The sound is demonstration quality. The whole disc maintains a logical concept as a single piece of music. Brauer demonstrates how the post-improvisation treatment of the original tapes could be used to make different and distinct compositions by including an alternate mix of the movement called "Battle Cry."

This recording is a must for all percussion fanciers.


Born: July 19, 1965 in Aberdeen, Scotland

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Famed classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie was born near Aberdeen, Scotland. At the age of 12, she became profoundly deaf due to nerve damage. Despite this severe handicap, Evelyn Glennie maintained her goal of becoming a classically trained solo percussionist. While in elementary school she learned to lip-read and also developed a technique for detecting musical pitch and volume. Standing on the outside of the practice room Glennie would place her hands on the walls and pay attention to the vibrations...
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