SERGIO CERVETTI: ‘Wind Devil & Co. – DancElectronics‘ = Wind Devil; Night Trippers; Cantata No. 84; In Closed Time; Out of the Rolling Ocean; Requiem; 40 Second/42nd Variations – Sergio Cervetti, electronics – Navona Records

by | Oct 20, 2013 | Classical CD Reviews

SERGIO CERVETTI: ‘Wind Devil & Co. – DancElectronics‘ = Wind Devil; Night Trippers; Cantata No. 84; In Closed Time; Out of the Rolling Ocean; Requiem; 40 Second/ 42nd Variations – Sergio Cervetti, electronics – Navona Records NV5930, 63:23 [Distr. by Naxos] (9/24/13) ***1/2:

I have now heard all the Navona releases by this Uruguayan-American composer and have consistently found his music to be highly eclectic, difficult to describe, very complex but ultimately pretty interesting.

This new release of what he calls “DancElectronics” leaves a similar overall impression; however, I would also say that, of all his music I have heard so far, this is the collection that a mass audience unaccustomed to contemporary classical music at all may actually get into. I think the two main reasons for this are that these works are nearly completely tonal and frequently have a very attractive blend of propulsivity and tranquility behind them that is quite attractive. Honestly, in many places of the headline work, Wind Devil, it is not immediately clear that this is a “classical electronic” work. It – and the others – reminded me almost of Vangelis with smatterings of Morton Subotnick (Mr.Cervetti, I do mean that as a compliment.) Wind Devil is really a very pretty work.

The other works leave a similarly strong impression. Night Trippers is a bit of a tribute to Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and, although a bit brief, this is a wholly engaging work. There is a very celestial-sounding atmosphere in In Closed Time that I quite enjoyed. There is even a bit of eastern tone to its very meditative feel. Requiem has a restful, otherworldly feel to it as well.

I do think the works in this collection are a bit of a mixed bag, for me. For example, I appreciate the upbeat, cheeky and ‘not-too-serious’ feel of works such as Cantata No. 84 (which Cervetti subtitles an “Intergalactic Tango”, whose title is a reference to Orwell’s 1984. Out of the Rolling Ocean was inspired by Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and has a sort of perky but melancholic feel. Lastly, his 40 Second/42nd Variations is a spin on the old Harry Warren big band tune, “42nd Street.” The first two movements here – a “Cabaletta” and “Tango” – are kind of perky and likable.  These three pieces just didn’t leave as strong an impression as the others (especially Wind Devil and Night Trippers which stand out in this collection.)

I do think it’s essential to remember that these electronic works were written for dance; everything from the BAM “Next Wave” festival to the Boston Dance Umbrella. As “DancElectronics” these works do all seem quite conducive to choreography and I imagine the resultant visual is quite nice. Just as music, I think that there is much to be enjoyed here (and just a few moments that come across a little “hokey.”)  As I mentioned, I have now heard a lot of Sergio Cervetti’s music and, although I am still not totally sure what to make of it, I enjoy it and I think this is easily his album that most listeners will get something out of.

—Daniel Coombs

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