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Robert Sholl & Justin Paterson: Les ombres du Fantôme
Anna McCready (soprano), Robert Sholl (organ), Andy Visser (saxophone and bass clarinet), Justin Paterson (electronics)
Recording: Arundel Cathedral (May 15, 2021) and Coventry Cathedral (July 12, 2021), England – 75’52 Métier MEX 77105 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English

“Spatial presence, laced in tiers of acoustical aura extraordinaire with incisively dense extraction.”

Such is the overall glance outlining Les ombres du Fantôme that reveals the sonic solitude penned by Robert Sholl and Justin Paterson. But in order to discover this fascinating journey, we must turn back the clock and focus on the early 20th century. Enter Gaston Leroux, a French author who wrote a serial for Le Gaulois (1909‑1910), entitled Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. The work spawned a selection of various works for stage and screen, and, in particular, the 1925 release of The Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney. Some of the music, supportive of the Gothic fiction and this silent screen film, utilized Gounod’s Faust. It was a natural marriage.

But in 2021 the English team of Sholl and Paterson came up with a creation of new music, supportive of M. Leroux’s storyline that carries forward with sounds stemming from naturally-occurring and electrically-organized audio bites. Microphones, strategically placed inside the Coventry and Arundel Cathedrals, were used to capture dramatic tension within the chapters of Fantôme. Supplementing these recordings, synthetically generated and intentionally-manipulated electronics (M. Paterson), sax and bass clarinet instruments (M. Visser), and soprano voice (Anna McCready) were melded together to form highly unforeseen outcomes. Adorning this CD are the techniques of “musical improvisation” and “xenochrony”.

Les ombres du Fantôme creates an interesting backdrop against the novella. It sparks intrigue and begs patience. Thickly laden with interesting aural derivatives, the recording, while mysterious and nebulous, is a hard listen. Captivating, tedious, exhausting.

Christie Grimstad




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