Jay Batzner, Sequenza 21, January 29, 2010

This is not your typical solo trumpet disc. Some folks might dismiss a CD made up almost entirely of solo trumpet music, but when the most straightforward thing on a disc was written by Scelsi, I get kind of excited. Amy Horvey tackles exciting and provocative repertoire on this offering and nails all of it.

The Quattro pezzi by Scelsi kick off the disc and highlight Ms Horvey’s chops and musicality. Her tone is dark and somber, her ability to connect the lengthy lyrical lines in each piece is uncanny, and the only thing that would make the performance better would be hearing her live. These are demanding pieces and she squeezes every nuance of music from them.

Cecilia Arditto’s Música Invisible is in three movements (Sfumato, Chiaroscuro, and Anamorphosis) and uses both flugelhorn and trumpet. Each work involves the use of extended techniques such as singing while playing, extreme pedal tone melodies, and putting the bell of the trumpet into a bowl of water. Regardless of the techniques, which are intrinsic to the sound worlds of the pieces and not mere gimmicks, the music is haunting and meaningful. Each gesture is given time and space to develop and mature and, at about 12 minutes, I could stand to listen to a whole lot more.

The next two works both feature spoken passages as well as played passages. Anna Höstman’s Interview relates to a larger work about trumpet soloist Edna White called “Queen of the Music Boxes.” The fragments of text coax listeners into an emotional world with very little said. The music that follows is sometimes playful, sometimes sorrowful, and Ms Horvey communicates the text well without being too hammy or too stoic in affect. In contrast to the fragmentary Interview, Apparatus Inconcinnus by Ryan Purchase contains more of a linear narrative about remembering how to count by Russian author Daniil Charms. This humorous anecdote takes some serious musical terms and would be, of course, most effective in a live performance. The story holds the music together very well. My only quibble of this disc, if I have to have one, is that these two very similar works were programmed back to back.

The final work, Overture to “The Queen of the Music Boxes”, includes the electro-acoustic / circuit-bending / composer Jeff Morton working with prepared music boxes, toy instruments, and electronics. The composition is largely about Morton’s sound world of dreamy, lo-fi mechanical music making than it is Amy Horvey’s trumpet playing. When the trumpet melody does emerge, the dreaminess of Morton’s contraptions becomes more accompaniment than ambient. The whole piece projects an introspective mood and is the perfect sound world to close off the CD.

Amy Horvey tackles exciting and provocative repertoire on this offering and nails all of it.