Classical: Concerto Köln/Bang on a Can/RIAS Kammerchor

Lost objects, Teldec
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The Independent Culture

Three composers, two excellent instrumental groups, three superb soloists (Claudia Barainsky, Andrew Watts and Daniel Taylor), a world-class choir, DJ Spooky (aka The Subliminal Kid), and a great theme should make for something wild and wonderful. Sadly Lost Objects – a contemporary oratorio – is far from that, despite its great beginning: "I lost a sock". Librettist Deborah Artman's list of everyday and more profound losses is expanded to include a leg, her wits, her parents, her sight, her way, her business and her language. It's a wonderfully intriguing opening, sung a cappella by Barainsky on a simple two-note figure. But within minutes a thick slithering of self-conciously ascetic strings appears, together with a shamelessly whiny Claptonesque guitar solo. And with this Lost Objects stops being interesting and starts being very silly indeed, not least because the three composers involved have produced the kind of faux-naive choral part-writing – the basses only get to sing the nouns – that gives minimalism a bad name. This wouldn't be half so frustrating were it not so wasteful of Artman's intelligent, imaginative and perceptive libretto. Despite the considerable talents of the performers, this exercise in "art by committee" just doesn't work, mainly because a formula designed to maximise inclusivity (solo with tutti variations) proves limiting of individual expression. DJ Spooky's remixes are the most satisfying tracks, but these, I imagine, were the ones least subject to collective interference. A great idea gone terribly wrong.

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