This highly unusual release includes two projects, as the CD title implies. The miniaturized concertos (this is a British-based project, thus the spelling in the headnote) comprise the first CD, including four new concertos incorporating lots of electronica, and all commissioned by the ringleader of this entire collection, pianist and new music impresario Kate Halsall. The second CD consists of four Machés. What is that, you ask? According to Wikipedia, a maché is a variety of commune which occurs in the Loire Valley in France. That makes sense, in as much as these four “sound collages” were assembled by 17 different composers! The composers of the Maches are; Ryoko Akama, Joel Bell, Leo Chadburn, Richard Glover, Duncan MacLeod, Fumiko Miyachi, Andrew Morgan, Dominic Mucott, Helen Papaionnou, Richard Perks, Emma Ruth Richards, Matthew Rowan, Rowland Sutherland, Timo Tuhkanen, Simon Vincent, Ruta Vitauskaite, and Devon Tipp.
The concerto disc is the yang to the yin of the Maché disc. Or, to suggest a more relevant comparison, rock and roll versus jazz. The four concertos for double keyboards, while different in texture and scope, all share a driving sense of rhythm and the sort of repetitive patterns associated with Minimalism. As a kind of aural decoration, these works are interesting, and even alluring, but it is difficult to discern any kind of broad stylistic signatures among the composers. There is an emotional aloofness to all of this music that is, perhaps, part of its quirky charm, but that also creates a kind of sameness of spirit. It almost seems as if they were all written by the same person.
The Machés cover a much greater range of theatricality. In general, they flow at a much more leisurely tempo than the concertos, at moments rhapsodic, even dreamy. The jazzy feel derives from twangy electric guitar effects, relaxed rhythms and even a splash of microtonality. Some of the sound effects seemed superfluous, even hackneyed, such as the recordings of children playing outdoors. But in fairness to the team of enterprising artists involved in these myriad projects, it is best to consider this material as a kind of broad experience, for those interested in stretching their listening experience into new worlds of sound.