Eleanor Hovda The Eleanor Hovda Collection

Spanning her sadly truncated career, this four-disc set is a generous glimpse into Hovda's very particular and beautiful sound world. Her work has a similarity to "spectralist" music, in the way that it magnifies very rarefied sonic colours and textures. Yet although it is often very quiet, the music never feels austere, remote or clinical the way bona fide spectralism can. Instead, it is teeming with vibrant, otherworldly movement, tracing breath-like gestures that bring corporeal warmth to a corner of chamber music that can be highly cerebral. Scelsi is definitely a jumping-off point; Hovda is also concerned with constructing resonant, undulating fields of sound from excavating various strange textures from instrumental ensembles. Hovda's music though is slightly more mysterious and unpredictable. Where Scelsi can sometimes veer into a droning, one-note take on Mahler-esque bombast, Hovda might sooner turn towards more improvisatory-sounding material: a rogue melodic figure jutting forth from a near-silent texture, a sudden series of limpid, open chords or flocks of fluorescent whistle-tones cascading across the aural soundscape. Comparisons aside, Hovda's work is unique and rich. These four discs come highly recommended, serving as a deeply engaging overview of her catalogue. (Innova)