Gillet Singleton Duo, Ferdinand (Independent)

Gillet Singleton Duo, Ferdinand, album cover

This is not ya mama’s string duets. She would not recognize some of the sounds coming from this direct and powerful live recording from cellist Helen Gillet and bassist James Singleton at the Marigny Opera House in March 2013. Even in its lighter moments, this is an intense set of music. There are several aspects of this recording that elevate it beyond the expectations of what most string duets accomplish. Simply, it rocks. Both Gillet and Singleton push their instruments and the tunes with recklessness toward the sound but also with a precision of technique. The notes and phrasing are on target and the feeling behind them has a strength and soul. Another aspect is the way that both of them use electronics as another instrument in the recording. Many musicians in the classical/avant-garde realm use technology just to add strange sounds and effects. Gillet and Singleton both use their effects to complement the music and their instruments, at times almost playing the effects and using their instruments for coloring and foundation. This allows for a tonal range that makes their songs even more interesting. They push their instruments both higher and lower than is expected, and that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats, anticipating what might come next. And even though listeners of this CD will not hear the audience applaud or cheer, their presence amid the acoustic texture of the Marigny Opera House is captivating. There are moments where the music reverberates and the tension of the audience holding its breath listening to it is palpable. So many recordings in this era have no sense of space. It is refreshing to hear Gillet and Singleton’s music enhanced not only by their virtuosity and use of technology, but also by the acoustic architecture.


  • Michael Dominici

    Right on. Two dynamic musicians that come at this from different angles in a setting that contrasts and complements their energy. Being there for both of these recording sessions, what impresses me most is that there is more nuance and immediacy captured here than even being there, which is almost never the case with ‘live’ recordings that often sound like unremarkable souvenirs. If I had to use one word to describe it I’d go with vibrant. Kunian nails the review, GOAT nailed the sound engineering, and Helen Gillet and James Singleton deliver the goods. Top notch in all aspects.