The Native American songs at the beginning of this disc were chosen for their variety and the musical interest. An artistic osmosis takes place on this CD beginning with the oral tradition of the music, poetry and stories. Transcriptions by the researchers of the Smithsonian Institute documented interpretation, written word and musical notation (including timbres and microintervals). Now we have a musical score and a book of poetry. The process is taken further when the composers use these transcriptions as seeds for a work using their own musical languages. Finally, the singers interpret the transcriptions and the end result is this CD.
In the Sky I am Walking (American Indian Songs) is an important work in Karlheinz Stockhausen's oeuvre from the 1970s. It receives its only commercially available recording here aside from Stockhausen's private label edition. Scored for a male and female singer, this long song cycle uses texts by Native Americans and incorporates the use of "unusual vocal sounds" from a palette of vocal timbres developed by the two singers in their years of experience performing new music and meeting singers from around the world, including Native Americans. Stockhausen closely prepared the piece with the singers.
Pascal Dusapin is one of France's leading composers. Red Rock is an excerpt from Dusapin's opera Romeo and Juliet scored for vocal quartet playing Native American instruments. Isherwood became aware of this piece when he sang the role of Romeo in 1989.
One would expect nothing to remain from the playing, singing and reciting which took place many years ago in the wilderness, and yet somehow there is a musical and spiritual thread running through the elements of this voyage. One can hear the common source of these works gushing forth.
This is the first in a projected series of recordings by Voxnova for Mode Records.
Sitting Bull and Cree teepees adorn the CD book, but purists beware: there are only eight minutes of folk songs here... Pascal Dusapin's "Red Rock" is a pleasant but brief outtake from his opera "Romeo and Juliet", with extra "ethnic" percussion, and Stockhausen's "In The Sky I Am Walking..." sets Indian texts but uses no Native American musical material... Still, Nicholas Isherwood and Isabelle Soccoja's interpretation of Stockhausen's 1972 vocal duet is impressive, even if it takes certain liberties: Isherwood incorporates his Tuva-inspired "diaphonic singing", Soccoja adds something called "erotic whispering", and they transpose the whole piece down a minor third, substantially changing its tone color. Anyone expecting "Hymnen"-style post apocalyptic electronica might be disappointed: this curious but touching work may look back to "Stimmung" and "Telemusik" in its intoning of magic names, but more importantly it prefigures the melodic simplicity of the later "Licht" operas. As a work of music theatre, there are necessarily some elements not appreciable on disc, though the ending with the singers receding into the distance is magical. ---Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Review, November 2000