Jorge Lima Barreto

Zul Zelub
Clean Feed CF 111 CD

Melding inside-and-outside piano explorations with the pulsations of a randomly tuned short wave radio or with pre-recorded ambient sounds issuing from four CD players, Jorge Lima Barreto creates an altogether unique double-barreled program here. A veteran Portuguese pianist, academic and sonic conceptualist who helped found Telectu, the country’s pioneering experimental musical ensemble, Barreto does more than present a solo piano recital. His keyboard and string-set strategies react alternately to cloudy and crackling radio vibrations in “Zul” or replications of woodland animal cries in “Zelub” – both recorded live in real time.

Polarized keyboard creations are heard on “Zul”’s five sections. Baretto’s playing leverages from chamber-music-styled nocturnes featuring languid portamento sweeps to driving fortissimo chording and high frequency cadences piled on top of one another. They counter warbling, twisted static oscillations or sudden interjections of dee-jay chatter or crowd noises.

Pastoral, but not bucolic, the four-part “Zelub” is awash with echoing aviary twittering and chirping, plus the growls, snorts and yelps of feral animals. For his part, jagged soundboard rebounds, low frequency percussive dynamics and parade-like syncopation give the pianist enough scope to showcase his instrument’s tones and colors. Stressed string stop and isolated single note vibrations prevent his sound extensions and responses from being lost among timbres from the pre-recorded menagerie.

— Ken Waxman

— For MusicWorks Issue #106