01 Memory in MotionMemory in Motion; Percussion in Surround (Xenakis; Mâche; lanza; Tan)
Percussion Ensemble; Aiyun Huang
Mode Records mode325 DVD (moderecords.com)

Renowned percussion virtuoso Aiyun Huang and the Memory in Motion Ensemble release a recording project representing Huang’s recent research into how percussionists memorize musical actions within ensembles. The album begins with François-Bernard Mâche’s goosebump-inducing Aera. This work undulates with a welcomed anxiousness that brings warmth and beauty amid its numerous menacing arrivals. Glacial sonic behemoths envelop and serrated swarms cascade upward – all working harmoniously toward Promethean attempts at an apogee. 

alcides lanza’s sensor VI is an excited wild ride with an unrelenting hornet’s nest of activity. Here, the performers are able to place their incredible virtuosity on display. Sorites, one of two commissions for the project (and meant as a companion piece to Xenakis’ Persephassa – a work that appears later on the album), is a dusty scratchy expanse composed by Zihua Tan. Emerging from the haze is the occasional clarity of ringing bells – much like ephemeral shimmering grains flickering in brilliance but for a moment in a sunbeam strewn across a room. Next, lanza’s mnais mnemes is the murmuration of starlings beyond which storm clouds signal their approach: the endeepening of rumbling light in the distance. 

Lastly, the Ensemble’s interpretation of Xenakis’ Persephassa – a masterpiece of percussion repertoire – is outstanding and worth the price of admission alone. It is always a question for performers how to phrase contemporary music outside of what is taught when performing works of the common practice. The Ensemble brings a staggering interpretive quality that will surely propel this recording of Xenakis’ well-known work into definitive territory. The culmination of breathtaking musicianship and powerful performance mastery makes this album a must listen.

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Author: Adam Scime
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