Album: Thomas Larcher, Madhares (ECM)

There's an overwhelming sense of restrictive unease in these three works by the young Austrian composer Thomas Larcher, particularly in Böse Zellen (Malign Cells), a piano and orchestra piece dramatically rendered by Tim Fellner with the Münchener Kammerorchester under Dennis Russell Davies. The preparation of the piano strings with rubber wedges and adhesive tape allows just a series of dulled but spiky taps, a muted gamelan accompanied by swells and subsidences of brass and woodwind. It's as if the piano is struggling to break free of its restrictions, until the tape is finally pulled off effecting a huge, unfocused polyphonic cluster which overwhelms the entire piece. The Madhares are less architecturally intriguing, but no less gripping.