The Examiner‘s Stephen Smoliar relates his experience listening to the new recording of Luigi Nono’s La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura with violinist Miranda Cuckson and electronica master Richard Burns some years after having heard a live performance by Gidon Kremer:
A recent release of this composition by Urlicht has taken a rather unique approach to capturing that sense of journey. Violinist Miranda Cuckson and “projectionist” Christopher Burns made a recording after having given a performance in New York. This was a multi-track recording for playback on a 5.1 Surround Sound system, and it was released as a Blu-ray audio disc. For those who lacked the necessary technology, that disc was packaged with a more conventional stereophonic CD. As one who lacks that “necessary technology,” my own listening experience involved playing the CD with full knowledge of my previous spatial experience.
With that disclaimer I have to say that there is much to be gained from the CD in spite of its limitations. Without the spatial effects one is more inclined to attend to Nono’s motivic vocabulary. While this may make the journey less “physical,” one can still appreciate that sense of peregrination through the six sections of the piece (conveniently marked as separate tracks on the CD). Furthermore, those who understand the semantics of “madrigal” in its Renaissance context will probably be more likely to appreciate why Nono chose this noun to categorize this particular composition.
Nevertheless, the other significant disclaimer I must make is that I had the advantage of listening to this recording with the benefit of past experience. There is no doubt that this is complex music, the result of scrupulous attention to both the notations encountered on the music stands and the sounds on the recorded tracks. It is probably more than most listeners will be able to manage on first contact. Nevertheless, it does not take many exposures for mind to encounter familiarities as the performance peregrinates. The listener willing to let this music work its magic on its own terms is likely to be well rewarded.
Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura (1988-89)
Miranda Cuckson, violin / Christopher Burns, electronics
Produced by Christopher Burns and Richard Warp
Recording engineer: Richard Warp
Recorded at A Bloody Good Record Inc, Long Island City NY
Mixing engineer (stereo CD): Richard Warp
Mixing engineers (DTS 5.1 surround mix): Paul Special and Richard Warp
Assistant mixing engineer (DTS 5.1 surround mix): Dillon Pajunas
DTS 5.1 surround mix produced at Sonic Arts Center, CCNY, NYC
Produced for New Spectrum Recordings, NYC
Executive producer: Glenn Cornett
Urlicht AudioVisual UAD-5992
CD plus Blu-Ray Audio for home theater systems — available at Amazon.com.
CD plus DTS-CD for home theater systems — available here.