Reviewed by Brian Marley, The Wire, Issue 252, page 61, 2/2005
Perhaps wisely, Achim Bornhoeft sidesteps the issue. His "virtual string" presents what the title suggests: a computer-generated simulation of a string. Sometimes the string sounds as though it must be as thick as a hawser cable and its sound box the size of a warehouse, and this aspect of the composition is interesting though far from novel.
The other five compositions feature a solo bowed stringed instrument with tape and/or live electronics. All of them are conceptually less interesting than the Bornhoeft piece, though most are compositionally just as strong. On Karlheinz Essl's "Da Braccio", Garth Knox (of The Arditti Quartet) contributes a range of viola textures that Essl modifies on the hoof. Knox also contributes to the two very different versions of Gerhard E Winkler's fascinating "Hybrid II ('Networks')" for real-time score and interactive live electronics, in which computer generated algorithms dictate how the composition should proceed.
The two remaining pieces feature Frank Stadler and electronically modified natural sounds. At their least modified, these sounds stick out like a sore thumb, as happens during the early moments of Arteom Denissov's "Himmlischer Kreis". They're put to much more convincing use in Michael Edwards's "Slippery When Wet", whose abruptly changing collage structure more readily accommodates these blurts of disjunctive sound. Edwards is also the producer of "Stryngebite", and he writes in his liner note that utilising taped elements in composition is still an issue in contemporary Western classical music, as is improvisation (by, in this case, Knox and Essl). Who would have thought that innovation and contemporary classical would prove to be less compatible than electronics/tape and acoustic instruments?"