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Gavin Bryars: A Man in a Room, Gambling

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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 Dec. 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: GB Records
  • ASIN: B00009NOOH
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 395,147 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Programme One ("Bottom Dealing")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Programme Two ("Three Card Trick")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Programme Three ("Cutting")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Programme Four ("Shifting upper pack to bottom")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Programme Five ("Sorting 3 cards in a pack")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Programme Six ("Taking cards from the bottom")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Programme Seven ("Sorting 2 cards in a pack")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Programme Eight ("Getting rid of extra cards")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Programme Nine ("Three Card Trick - the Mexican Row")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Programme Ten (reprise "Dealing from the bottom")Gavin Bryars, Juan Munoz, The Balanescu Quartet 5:06£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

These enigmatic and engaging pieces come from a collaboration between Gavin Bryars and the Spanish sculptor and artist Juan Muñoz. The project they developed was for a sound piece designed for radio, dealing with the description of actions which themselves involve visual illusion and trickery, and placing them in some kind of broadcasting framework.

For 'A Man in a Room, Gambling', Muñoz wrote 10 texts, each one describing the manipulation of playing cards. Each lasts exactly 5 minutes and would ideally be placed before the last radio news of the evening so that the programme would be encountered, in Britain at least, like an encounter with the Shipping Forecast. Each is accompanied by a string quartet, playing at exactly the same tempo for each piece, giving an overall unifying texture to each five-minute piece and to the sequence of ten programmes.

Five of the pieces were released on Point in 1997, in different orchestrations (now deleted) but the company was too timid to release all ten! This is the first recording of the way in which Gavin Bryars and Juan Muñoz intended them to be heard.

Juan Muñoz died in August 2001, aged 49, shortly after his enormously successful installation at Tate Modern. He and Gavin Bryars had planned to resume their collaborations after their respective summers away - for this album and for a projected chamber opera.

Juan Muñoz (speaking voice), Yukio Fujishima (additional speaking voice), The Balanescu Quartet: Alexander Balanescu, Claire Connors (violins), Bill Hawkes (viola), Caroline Dale, Pal Banda (cello)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dobester on 28 July 2003
Format: Audio CD
This work is another example of the mesmerising compositional skills of Gavin Bryars. He juxtaposes classical chamber music with utterly unexpected and incongruous elements from the "real" world, in the same spirit as his "Jesus Blood" or "Titanic" pieces. Here, it is the voice of the presenter of a series of short radio programmes about how to cheat at cards. The deadpan narrator instructs the audience in various ways of dealing from the bottom of the deck, doing three card tricks and so on.
The voice is melodious and vibrant, made more attractive by the Spanish accent and intonations of the narrator, the sculptor Juan Munoz. The narration complements and competes with the Balanescu Quartet's beautiful playing, and while the cd has ten separate "tracks" which can all stand as individual pieces, the work is most definitely a whole. The effect is astonishing, both melancholy and humorous, modern and classical, relaxing and stimulating. A weird magic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Journey into Strange Places 4 July 2008
By Amélie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Voice and strings always make a fascinating combination; spoken voice no less than singing. I first heard track #9 on CBC Radio and was blown away by how well the voice, speaking in an Argentine accent on a completely unfamiliar subject, blends with the strings. Bryars selected the actor very well; this voice is seductive, very masculine, cultured, and the accent is charming.

Listening to the whole album is not for the faint-hearted. It is hard to hold attention throughout all the lectures, and although I never found the voice intrusive (like the other reviewer reports) it gets to be a bit soporific and repetitive. Perhaps this is the intended effect. But it can be an effort to keep one's attention sharp.

Because of the spoken component it doesn't work as car music (can't make out words) or background music. It really does demand one's full attention. I do recommend it for those who like to make the effort.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
unique work 1 April 2011
By K. P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
it's not the best music or spoken voice ever, but the combination in this instance creates something unlike any other music i've heard. it's entrancing more than anything i suppose. sometimes i like to try to focus solely on either the music or the words, and, inevitably, i get lost.
An Underappreciated Gem In Bryars' Catalog 20 Mar. 2014
By frankp93 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Munoz was a Spanish sculptor who previously collaborated with Bryars. Bryars explains in the liner notes the piece was inspired by short form BBC radio 'filler' programs on various topics, which he found captivating. (Not residing in the U.K., I don't have any firsthand details to add concerning typical content).

'A Man in A Room' was conceived as a series of similarly brief episodes exploring a single topic (illicit poker 'tricks') using spoken text with musical 'accompaniment'. To my mind it's more a duet of equal-stature between voice and strings and the inherent tension in the juxtaposition is the strength of the work. The music ebbs and swells mirroring the narrative arch - sometimes blatantly, other times with subtlety you can easily miss. Bryars makes the point the episodes are not necessarily meant to be heard all together 'as a suite'.

I've followed Bryars music since the 70's and, for myself, 'A Man In A Room' harkens back to the composer's more experimental side where he gradually built powerful and dramatic aural experiences from deceptively unassuming musical materials.

It's a wonderful listen.
Core Material 13 May 2013
By Danylo Lytovchenko - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This includes all spoken material, some of which can be found on the usual and known edition of "A Man in a Room, Gambling" from 2003. I loved what I heard then and was very glad to hear the whole piece uninterrupted. Beautiful music mixed with handy advice on how to play poker. What's not to like? But my reaction may be somewhat not objective, since I've long been a huge fan of Bryar's music.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Music, Annoying Chatter 7 Mar. 2008
By J. Pour - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I read a professional review of this disk which gave it a 5 star (out of 5)rating. I just can't agree. It simply tries too hard to be oh, so clever and exotic. The voicings are simply annoying and distract from some beautiful, and truely exotic and clever string compositions featuring terrific musicianship. Provided your concentration is able to pierce through the voicing and focus upon the dominate string line(s) of any given segment, you will greatly enhance your listening enjoyment. Just because Juan Munoz is doing the speaking does not automatically entitle this disk to a top rating. Only track nine, featuring some crowd rumblings and such, comes close to working within the concept. Five stars for the string compositions, three for the concept and none for the card slinging b.s. oratory.
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