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Beta Collide: Psst!

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Album Review

Psst… Psst! is the first release by the Oregon-based new music group Beta Collide, whose members include flutist Molly Barth (one of the founders of eighth blackbird), Brian McWhorter on trumpet and flügelhorn, David Riley on piano and celesta, and percussionist Phillip Patti. The selections, which include the group's arrangement of György Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre, their remix of Radiohead's Nude, and works by Frederic Rzewski, Valentin Silvestrov, Robert Erickson, Stephen Vitiello, and Robert Kyr, are refreshingly diverse, and in the spirit of eighth blackbird, show an independent irreverence toward the orthodoxies of the new music recital. A lot of the music is just plain fun. Three whimsical works by Rzewski are essentially the same piece heard in different guises, his Mollitude (written for Barth in 2006), Nanosonata No. 7 for piano, and Nanosonata No. 7 + Mollitude, where the two are simultaneously played, to delightful effect. Mysteries of the Macabre is an absurd mélange of spoken word and disjunct instrumental fragments that manages to make sense as a satisfying musical whole. Erickson's Kryl requires jaw-dropping virtuosity from the solo trumpet, as well as split-second alternations of playing with outrageous extended vocal techniques. Other pieces are simply lovely. Silvestrov's Trio for flute, trumpet, and celesta has an effervescent otherworldliness far more animated than the serene mysticism usually associated with his work. Kyr's Memories of an Echo is built on a transparently simple premise; the sound of the flute predominates at the beginning, with the flügelhorn heard from an extreme distance, and over the course of the piece they gradually exchange positions, and the effect is magical. Each of these players is exceptionally virtuosic, negotiating the demanding scores with apparent effortlessness. Innova's sound is clean and open, with excellent presence. Beta Collide is an ensemble that fans of new music should watch out for.~Stephen Eddins, Rovi

Beta Collide: Psst!, Beta Collide
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