Contemporary music from everywhere

Claudio F. Baroni – Motum

motumThese three compositions from Argentinian composer Claudio F. Baroni are a minimalist’s dream come true. That is not to say the work is sparse or in any way designed for the background. Quite the opposite, these performances offer up everything from uneasy silence to dark, thick sustained notes.

“in CirCles II (Movs. I-IV)” is presented by the 11-piece EnsembleModelo62. It is a delicate, gentle masterwork. Despite its lightness – or perhaps because of it – these four movements make for a riveting 36 minutes.

A less conventional piece follows. “SoLo VIII-Air (dedicated to Phill Niblock)” is an organ recording featuring EnsembleModelo62’s artistic and musical director Ezequiel Menalled with Baroni.

The piece features a mix of silence and soft touches on the organ’s registration knobs. The result is mostly unrecognizable, but not entirely. Intentional or not, Menalled and Baroni have stripped the organ of all its clichés. In the process, they deliver a powerful new vision of what electric music can sound like.

Finally, we get “Perpetuo Motum (dedicated to Quartetto Prometeo),” featuring the quartet referenced in the title. It swirls and spirals for nearly 11 minutes – building, pausing and then building again in intimidating fashion.

Baroni’s composition make Prometeo’s strings sound about 10% tighter than their manufacturers’ recommendations. This is an edge-of-your-seat performance.

Samuel Vriezen’s album notes explain that these three compositions “propose unexpected variations on the arithmetics of body, sounds and voice. Each of these pieces in their own way makes it nearly impossible to tell just how many ‘things’ are present.”

It’s a useful observation, one that helps explain Motum’s enigmatic quality. This album will be loved by fans of minimalist new classical music, both for its simplicity and complexity.

Baroni lives and works in Amsterdam.

Kevin Press

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