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Alla Breve

January 31, 1988|GREGG WAGER

VLADIMIR USSACHEVSKY: "DIALOGUES AND CONTRASTS"; "COLLOQUY." CRI SD 543. In "Dialogues and Contrasts" (1983), Ussachevsky writes crisp, idiomatic brass music, but his neo-classic style tends to be square and unchallenging. The American Brass Quintet tightly performs as the electronic sounds--prerecorded brass lines, some electronically altered--appear now and then throughout the three movements. Most of the dialogue effect is lost in this recording since the listener sometimes can't discriminate which brass sounds were originally prerecorded. "Colloquy" (1976), for orchestra and electronics, begins with the strings playing a slow, melancholy section sounding like Barber's Adagio for strings. Suddenly, the music stops and two of the players and the conductor start talking. Ussachevsky's prerecorded voice, slightly altered to sound like a robot from a science fiction movie, replies, trying to convince the players to let his electronic music into the orchestra. Continuing in this manner, "Colloquy" alternates orchestral sections with spoken texts, but the slowly paced comic novelty wears out quickly.

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