“Two Duos” is pressed from cellist Okkyung Lee’s most recent OTO Residency; the first side a duo with Jérôme Noetinger on Revox B77 and the second with Nadia Ratsimandresy on ondes Martenot. Cut together, the two meetings seem to raise three cellos in the search for expressive voice: the cello, it’s magnetic reproduction, and the dual controls of the machine invented to expand on its musical qualities.
On the A side Noetinger’s opening tape hiss establishes a current; an electrical partner who gives Lee room to slide across and stretch out. Progressively the cello is returned, duplicated and manipulated with increased velocity and distortion. Noetinger draws out the full extent of Lee’s extended technique; rewinding strands of Lee's horse hair and transmuting her percussive attacks into shuddering echos, before letting his own concrete interjections spin the duo's sonic tussle into an almost romantic daydream.
On side B the ondes (invented by French cellist and wartime radio operator Maurice Eugene Louis Martenot and so loved by Bernard Parmegiani, Varese and Messiaen) seems shaken from classical tradition and those long, drawn out horrorscapes it has come to be associated with. In a duel with Lee, Ratsimandresy grasps the ondes’ extraordinary capacity for dexterity, nuance and speed, hounding Lee’s cello in a bid to drive her instrument out of the past and into the future.
Two fantastic pairings and a testament to the freshness with which Lee and her collaborators continue to work with their instruments.