THOMAS BARTLETT & NICO MUHLY, PETER PEARS ★★★★

Ba­li­nese Cer­e­mo­nial Mu­sic None­such/Warn­ers

The Irish Times - - Friday Life Film & Music - COR­MAC LARKIN

The cryptic ti­tle is the first clue that this lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion from Gloam­ing pi­anist Thomas Bartlett and New York com­poser Nico Muhly will give up its se­crets slowly. Op­er­atic tenor Peter Pears was Ben­jamin Brit­ten’s part­ner – in life and in mu­sic – and the pair lived to­gether with other artis­tic waifs and strays in Brook­lyn in the early 1940s. Also there was pi­o­neer­ing mu­si­col­o­gist Colin McPhee, the real hero of this record, whose field no­ta­tions of Ba­li­nese cer­e­mo­nial mu­sic in the 1930s would be the first ex­am­ples of the game­lan to reach western ears. Brit­ten and McPhee’s scratchy record­ings of those tran­scrip­tions for two pi­anos pro­vide the in­spi­ra­tion for this ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of songs. Along­side three faith­ful ren­der­ings of McPhee’s no­ta­tions sit nine new songs, del­i­cate beds of glitch beats, plonky pi­anos and tuned per­cus­sion, with Bartlett’s soft voice mur­mur­ing lyrics culled from half-for­got­ten child­hood mem­o­ries. What it all means may take many lis­ten­ings to dis­cover, but one senses it will be worth it.

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