Boomkat Product Review:
Mary Jane Leach is a composer focussed on the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space. She has played an instrumental role in NYC’s pioneering Downtown scene alongside Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner and Arnold Dreyblatt, as well as devoting years to the preservation and reappraisal of Julius Eastman’s work since his death in 1990, compiling the ‘Unjust Malaise’ 3CD set in 2005 and editing the 2015 book ‘Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music’. 'Woodwind Multiples' is her second album for Modern Love, following ‘(f)lute songs’ (2018).
Woodwind Multiples features four pieces for multiples of the same instrument: four bass flutes, nine oboes, nine clarinets, and seven bassoons. Each piece works closely with the unique sound of each instrument, combining pitches that create other, sometimes unexpected, tones, primarily combination and interference tones, as well as rhythmic patterns. What you hear is what happens naturally - there is no processing or manipulation.
8B4 (1985/2022), played by Manuel Zurria, is for four bass flutes. It is a revision of 8x4, which was written in 1985 for the DownTown Ensemble and was only performed once, due to its unusual instrumentation: alto flute, English horn (originally bass oboe), clarinet, and voice.
Xantippe’s Rebuke (1993) was written for Libby Van Cleve, for eight taped oboes and one live, solo oboe. The eight taped parts are equal and dependent, while the solo part is meant to be a solo with the tape as accompaniment. The piece works with the unique sound of the oboe, starting with unison pitches that create the richest sound, building the piece from there. Pitches and rhythmic patterns that occur naturally are notated and then played later, which in turn create other pitches and rhythmic patterns. So, in effect, the nature of the oboe and its natural sound determine the direction of the piece.
Charybdis (2020), played by Sam Dunscombe, is for solo clarinet and eight taped clarinets. It combines a somewhat obscured reference to Weep You No More, a John Dowland piece, which combines with the sound phenomena created from the melody and supporting chords of the Dowland.
Feu de Joie (1992) was written for bassoonist Shannon Peet and is an homage to the bassoon and its wonderful sound. It is for seven parts—six taped and one “live.” The taped bassoons combine to create a bed of sound that exploits the unique qualities of the bassoon, creating combination and interference tones, starting off with unison pitches, creating a rich sound that builds from there. Most of the subsequent pitches and phrases occur naturally, and are then notated later on in the piece, which in turn creates other notes and phrases.