field studies is a CD of chamber music by Canadian composer Emilie Cecilie Lebel. There are five tracks on the record; each around twelve minutes long, scored for various small forces and recorded in different locations.
The pieces are all different but they have one thing in common. They make a few notes go a long way! evaporation blue, which opens the album is typical. It’s scored for piano and harmonica; both played by Cheryl Duvall, and it’s very sparse with the notes typically given long time values. It’s quite evocative in a slightly tense kind of way. It’s also recorded with a lot of resonance which has to be deliberate since it was recorded at Revolution Recording in Toronto.
The next two tracks were recorded by Edmonton ensemble UltraViolet at the Betty Andrews Recital Hall in Edmonton. Despite the heavier scoring they have a lot in common with the first track. …and the higher leaves of the tree seemed to shimmer, which features electronic transducers on bass drums, electronics, Roger Admiral on piano, Chenoa Anderson on flute,Allison Balcetis on baritone saxophone and Mark Segger on percussion, starts slowly with atmospheric piano and sax over droning electronics and percussion. Again it’s very slow and atmospheric but builds repetitively with the piano in dialogue with the woodwinds getting more and more tense and urgent. Then it relaxes a bit with more percussion then builds again and so on.
For drift UltraViolet is joined by soprano Jane Berry. There are long plaintive notes from the woodwinds before we hear occasional notes from piano and singer. This gets a bit denser with extended technique used for both piano and voice. Words are stretched out. Notes go a long way.
It’s UltraViolet again on track 4 but minus piano and voice and with lots more prepared percussion and electronics. even if nothing happens but shapes and light reflected in the glass is woodwind heavy; starting low but going much higher with lots of droning electronics. This was recorded at Dept. 9 Studios in Edmonton.
The fifth and final track is further migration (migration no.1) recorded at Grace Church-on-the-Hill in Toronto. This is a piece for solo violin played by Ilana Waniuk. This might just be the most “out there” piece on the record. There’s lots of extended technique including making the violin make a sort of whistling noise plus some abrasive squeaking and the occasional plucked string. It’s really quite a contrast with the other pieces.
field studies will be released on 12th May 2023 on Redshift Records as a physical CD, download (not sure about formats) and on streaming services. For the record I listened to standard quality CD .aif files.