Cathryn Scott
October 1, 2009

Dutch composer Louis Andriessen is known for his eclectic, experimental style. This collection - released to mark his 70th birthday, features two of his muses, Italian jazz and new music singer Cristina Zavalloni and American violinist Monica Germino.

Opening track Bells for Haarlem was commissioned to celebrate the opening of a restored concert building in Harlem and is inspired by the neighborhood’s two bells. You can imagine that, in the venue itself, such a sound would create a great deal of tension - but six minutes of plinking bells becomes repetitive and seems slightly pointless out of context.

Passeggiata in tram in America e ritorno (translating to ‘A Trolley Ride to America and Back’) is a lot more accessible. Keyboard, brass, strings, and vocals interweave to suggest a vibrant and energetic musical journey, full of the hustle and bustle that the track’s title suggests.

The first of seven movements of 2002’s La Passione begins with a regal brass fanfare - after that, however, it’s anything but traditional as dissonant chords, whining strings, and disjointed rhythms combine.

A quick read of the translated lyrics adds a new dimension to the music - for example, the dramatic tension of La Passione‘s last song, Il russo, is heightened when you learn of the Russian’s incarceration and hideous treatment.