Vagina, ceremony for voice and ensemble (46:29)
Maria de Alvear: voice
Ensemble Modern, Diego Masson cond.
Recorded 1996, CD released 2000 on World Edition, Germany.
Maria de Alvear‘s music is a highly original mix of Alhambra, Darmstadt and Fluxus influences. Her art is rooted in 12-tone music composing style ; minimalism ; Spanish tradition and Flamenco ; Fluxus-like performance and installations in art galeries ; spiritual, even ritualistic concerns. Apart from studying ‘Neues Musiktheater’ with Maurizio Kagel in Köln, she also studied piano with spanish composer Eduardo Pollonio, a master of spanish electroacoustic music. On several occasions during the 1990s, she visited Cherokee and Tuscarora Indians people in the US and Nenets natives in Siberia. She wrote Vagina immediately after befriending shamans of respective native tribes. Vagina is a parable about a female wolf, from childhood to adult age, her various encounters with all the creation’s animals and the strange things happening to and through her body. De Alvear: ‘Sexuality is the key to respecting nature and life’ (from 1999 german radio broadcast). This is not your ‘Vagina Monologues‘ set to contemporary music, then, nor has it to do with feminist Cora Emens’ Vagina song. The pan-sexuality championned on this work refers more to Joseph Beuys’ portative auto-mythology, and a sexuality involving all living creatures – as opposed to Wikipedia’s self-limiting, PC definition. On this recording, De Alvear delivers a very personal reading performance, as if merging 2 expressionist vocal styles: german avantgarde sprechstimme and spanish cante jondo, a particularly mournful flamenco singing style. Reading is part german, part spanish, and much preferable to the faulty english translation printed in the booklet. The orchestral accompaniement is mostly quiet and un-provocative, including some solo piano passages and a few relentlessly repeated notes.
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