Sophie Durand & Manu Holterbach
Verres Enharmonique: Un
Cloud Of Static

Available through the Helen Scarsdale Agency: $12.00

Far from being a parlour trick for contestants on The Gong Show, the glass harmonica has a curious history that dates back to the 18th century. In fact, Benjamin Franklin was so taken by its angelic tones that he devised his own mechanical instrument with an expanded timbral range in a series of interlocking bowls that spun upon a horizontal axis. Nowadays, there's the French sound artist and instrument builder Manu Holterbach who has re-invented the glass harmonica by returning to the original idea of rubbing wine glasses with wet fingers. Instead of having multiple glasses for each note, he fit his oversized wine glass bells with a valve that regulates the water level and in turn controls the pitch of the hamonica. Holterbach designed his glass harmonica to be played by two people, and in concert, he performs with Sophie Durand. The duo begins with the unmistakable ringing frequencies of the glass harmonica and gradually introduce dissonant tones to create a dynamic acoustic field of standing waves, cyclical beat patterns, and piercing vibrations. Hopefully, this beautiful document of Holterbach's instrument will be the first of many.

One of our favorite recordings of 2005.