Joanna Macgregor -Outside in Pianist
‘Around and about Joanna MacGregor’ would have been an equally suitable title for this disc. Questions inevitably arise as to how frequently it will bear repeated listening, and whether it would have been worth issuing as a sampler with one of the other initial SoundCircus releases, as an indication of what to expect from this potentially enterprising label.
The numerous rehearsal clips, mostly entertaining, provide an instructive framework for the musical extracts. The Dowland arrangement is calm and melancholic, an effective foil to the third of Birtwistle’s Harrison’s Clocks – rhythmically complex yet playful. Harry Warren’s 42nd Street offers manic ‘not-so-light relief’, but the undoubted highlight is Iain Ballamy’s Walpurgis Night; alternately soulful and impassioned, with the live context adding to the intensity, this will hopefully appear complete in due course. MacGregor is as adept in the atmospherics of Robin Hartwell’s Cage-ian miniature, as she is in the Fifth Sonata from Cage’s epic cycle, recorded in a soft-grained ambience. Somero Satoh’s Incantation II rounds off the disc in a meditative manner, its eddying sonorities setting the whole collage-like sequence at a thoughtful remove.'