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Dans le Sable is the first new album in over 40 years by composer, pianist, and digital audio pioneer Loren Rush (b. 1935). Active in the Bay Area new music scene since the late 1950s alongside composers such as Robert Erickson and Pauline Oliveros, he also co-founded the Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics in 1975. His music has been performed by the Boston Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra amongst others.
The title piece "Dans le Sable" (1967-68, 70) covers the first side of the record, of which Charles Shere in the Oakland Tribune (1972) writes: “A surreal opera scene. A narrator dwells on the significance of passing time. A soprano sings Barbarina's cabaletta from Figaro, which describes her distraught search in the sand for a lost pin. The chamber orchestra—mostly solo instruments—plays soft, half-forgotten tunes reminiscent of the Parisian music hall. If Marcel Duchamp wanted to put painting once more at the service of the mind, so did Rush seem to want to make a composition that speaks directly to that thing behind the mind—the point where it connects with the soul. And he succeeded. But only because the work is so brilliantly constructed, so careful in its structure and the timing of its phrases, so well balanced in the disposition of its parts that it quite overcomes the audience.”
The second piece on the album “Song and Dance” begins with the watery held tones of “Song.” Melancholy phrases are deconstructed and stretched in different retellings, invoking a harmonic fog. We are then thrust into “Dance,” one of the first orchestral pieces to employ computer-generated digital synthesis. A hypnotic and percussive march is propelled into a storm of early computer-processed cannonades.
Recital is proud to now illuminate the deeply overlooked composer Loren Rush, whose meticulous attention to detail has perhaps kept his toiled-upon works in the shadows these past decades. Dans le Sable is among the most gorgeous records I have heard.