Aiyun Huang & Friends with films by Hans Fjellstadt and Anton Cabaliero
Georges APERGHIS (b.1945)
Les guetteurs de sons (1981)
Le corps à corps (1978-79)
Mauricio KAGEL (1931-2008)
L’art bruit: solo for two (1995)
Vinko GLOBOKAR (b.1934)
Javier ALVAREZ (b.1956)
Temazcal (1984) for maracas and 4-channel tape
Jean-Pierre DROUET (b.1935)
Variations sur un texte de Victor Hugo (1991)
Mode 242 $19.99 DVD only (surround sound with full video)
This DVD documents the pioneering percussion works from the French school of theater music, written for and championed by the legendary Parisian group Trio Le Cercle. These are “French pieces” – mostly written by non-French composers whose most important work took place in Paris in the 1970's and 1980's. The cultural friction between immigrant artists and a French culture that embraced them without completely welcoming them is apparent with every note. This is the music of outsiders with a story to tell, where questions of belonging, control, and place are central.
Many of these works are renowned in the percussion repertoire but their combination of theater (visual, choreographic, architectural), with percussion makes little sense as strictly audio recordings. The visual aspect is essential to their experience.
All receive their first commercial video release performed by percussionist Aiyun Huang – who studied with the members of Trio Le Cercle – giving authoritative performances of these works for solo through quartet. Each work is given a unique visual treatment.
Liner notes by Steven Schick and Aiyun Huang.
Among the highlights:
– Vinko Globokar’s Corporel for a percussionist performing on her body as the instrument is visually arresting – and often discomfiting – as we watch the percussionist strike, rub, caress, and slap herself. Globokar’s Toucher draws a sharp line between the ancient and modern worlds, in which the clash over the concept of a heliocentric universe is played out in an escalating series of conversations drawn from Berthold Brecht’s “The Life of Galileo.” Globokar asks a percussionist to choose seven instruments that recreate the sounds of French vowels. A percussionist then plays the instruments as she says the words, thus allowing the instruments to speak for her.
– In Georges Aperghis’s Le Corps à Corps, a disjunctive treatment of text soon renders it useless as a vehicle for narrative, but creates instead an extraordinarily rich source of vocal incantations and drones that run parallel to the colorful hand-drumming. In Aperghis’s longer and more complex trio, Les Guetteurs de Sons, a similar mixture of percussion sound, vocal sound effects,
and actual text again yields are a well-balanced mixture of sights, sounds, and symbols.
– Mauricio Kagel's two works are large pieces of absurd theater. In an ultimate example of the burning issues of control and anarchy that raced through Paris of the late 1960’s like wild fire, Kagel’s Dressur draws a pointed comparison between the control over horses in the practice of dressage and the control over performers necessary to effect a concert. Dressur asks three percussionists to engage in a series of seemingly pointless and sometimes painful set of tasks.
– Variations sur un texte de Victor Hugo, it includes singing and dancing. Jean-Pierre Drouet depicts the dichotomy of the world through compiling tasks one on top of another (for example, turning while playing, singing while hitting, dancing and clapping).
...the standout piece was local drum troupe Fringe Percussion’s reading of Xenakis’s Persephassa, from 1969, for which the musicians—joined by Montreal virtuoso Aiyun Huang—were placed around the perimeter of the room, surrounding the audience. Perhaps because of his training as an architect, Xenakis was very interested in the spatialization of music, and in this work the sound sometimes circles the room, with motifs passed from player to player in a way that prefigured the multispeaker audio installations that would follow. It’s an intentionally immersive piece, so explosive that at times it sounded like we were crouching on a battlefield, and the musicians delivered it with split-second precision.
The Montreal Percussion Ensemble created something of a sensation in the Dunn Theatre Thursday night at the Second Highlight Concert of the 2011 Scotia Festival of Music. After stunning audiences with the concentrated rhythmic macrame of Steve Reich’s Sextet during Tuesday’s opening concert, they produced a lighthearted set of polyrhythmic knots and splices with tin juice cans, a potpourri of shakers and woodblocks, a conch shell, several drums including a bass drum and a lion’s roar, a suspended tenor drum with a cord dangling below it that is pulled slowly downward with a resin glove to live up to its name. The ensemble’s delightful play of timbres and tones, anchored by three sets of bongos and congas, made us all feel like five-year-olds discovering the thrill of furiously beating on a can or running about whacking anything that pops or tingles. But it was serious fun, to quote Dartmouth composer Paul Cram, which was contrived by John Cage, America’s most famous enfant terrible, as his Third Construction for Percussion Quartet.
We appreciated its whimsy while listening with awe to the ensemble’s marvelous energy and concentration. The musical texture was produced by notated polyrhythmic phrases performed in different orders chosen by each player. It and other such works influenced minimalists like Reich and Philip Glass to develop their own musical vocabularies of repeated phrases offset from one another to phase in and out, overlapping and lining up with the pulse, now on it, now off it.
Whether playing gloom-pop or performance-art rant, Toca Loca’s Gregory Oh, Simon Docking, and Aiyun Huang are known for their edge-of-seat intensity.
Alexander Varty, Straight.com
October 8, 2009
Recent recipients of a glowing shout-out from The New Yorker, Toca Loca’s performance Friday (July 25) stands to be an explosive, brain-busting highlight of the fest.
Sarah Liss, Eye Weekly
July 23, 2008
Toca Loca’s masterful presentation of their P*P Project at the Glenn Gould Studio.…The musicianship of the trio is really unprecedented. Percussionist Aiyun Huang and pianists Simon Docking and Gregory Oh are the country’ best kept weapons of mass destruction…Seriously "Stevie", forget about the funding of new tanks and choppers...feed these three mouths until they stop breathing, PLEASE!!! TOCA LOCA do justice to the idea of genre inclusiveness in modern art music.
Richard Marsella, The WholeNote Magazine
July 01 – Sept. 07, 2008
Toca Loca’s style is no easier to describe, although it’s fair to say that most of what they play is highly kinetic and abstract.
John Terauds, The Toronto Star
March 20, 2008
Toca Loca has its own delightful, quirky style. It would also be tough to find a new-music group with more integrity than this Toronto-based trio…mixture of electrifying performances, free-spirited curiosity, discerning musical taste and a whimsical sense of humour has made it an irresistible presence on the new-music scene since its birth in 2001.
Tamara Bernstein, The Globe and Mail
March 25, 2008
Toca Loca is made up of some serious musical muscle…Toca Loca has a sense of fun…. Not limited to two pianos and percussion, the group draws many elements into their sound-from backing electronics and bizarre effect-pedals to spoken word performances and rap. At any given show, Huang’s percussion could involve traditional drums or veer into vibes, anvils or smashing glass.
Sam Worthington, The Coast
March 20 -27, 2008
Two pianos and two percussionists delivered the highly rhythmic score flawlessly.
Adam Kinner, The Gazette
March 07, 2008
Toca Loca are a trio (pianists Gregory Oh and Simon Docking, and percussionist Aiyun Huang) who clearly believe that contemporary music should grab the listener as much as any other kind. With a pose of liked-minded friends, they put on a passionate, disciplined performance that at times rocked harder than many shows I’ve heard in clubs.
Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail
May 29, 2007
The ensemble Toca Loca offered a vibrant short set of works by Georges Aperghis, Dai Fujikura, Louis Andiessen, and Andrew Staniland.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker
April 16, 2007