Genta Buana Sari and Sanggar Cudamani collectives; Naoko Christ-Kato, piano; OSSIA Ensemble; David Jacobs, conductor
This collection of five pieces firmly situates composer and ethnomusicologist Michael Tenzer (b 1957) in the forefront of a group of contemporary composers creating cross-cultural musical and social fusions, while dealing openly with issues of cultural power and hegemony, and simply luxuriating in the sheer sounds of musics that are neither here nor there, but are from an altogether different place.
The three large-scale works using gamelan instruments were conceived as a triptych. They are related structurally by their adaptation of the three-sectional form often found in large-scale Balinese compositions, collectively called lelambatan ("slow music") that is generally performed at temples during religious festivals. The gamelan as well as the two piano pieces are also related rhythmically by their use of the complex rhythmic play of the tani avarthanam, a long drum solo characteristic of South Indian classical music.
Thus, all of the pieces in this collection use the aesthetic sensibilities, musical structures, and compositional resources of Balinese and South Indian traditions, as well as Western art musics in varying combinations, each creating a beautifully integrated whole.
The music also makes nuanced and carefully differentiated statements about the possibilities of cross-cultural communication and tolerance. Somewhat unresolved and exploratory in nature, yet ultimately hopeful in vision, together they explore musical and social arrangements that question basic assumptions about difference, tolerance, and about our ability to get along in a world largely defined today by tension and conflict.