Gidon Kremer has again recorded the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin of Bach and while his facility and technical grace are intact, in this recording he appears to have been deeply influenced by his time with the moderns (Adams, Pärt, Schnittke, Piazzola, Glass, et al). For this listener it seems that studying and performing these contemporary composers' manipulation of sound and instrumental scope has enriched Kremer's thought about the perfection of Bach. Not everyone will agree with Kremer's approach to these works on this new recording, but for those who know Bach's solo violin pieces there are pleasures in store. Remaining technically suave and with a luxuriant tone, Kremer seems to be communicating with the psychological Bach, offering different tempi and more soulful approaches than those of his colleagues. The results are mesmerizing. Highly recommended.
After decades during which the unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas of Bach stood alone, regarded by all but specialists as rather freakish musical occurrences, recent years have seen a growth of interest in the virtuoso violin repertory of the Baroque. Composers like Biber, Pisendel, and Tartini have all shown up with increasing frequency on concert programs and recordings.
The liner notes for Barry Guy's extended composition/improvisation Folio (a printer's term for a piece of paper folded in half to create four pages) refer extensively to Nikolai Evreinov's 1912 play The Theatre of the Soul, in which three aspects of the soul are introduced by a pretentious professor who claims the Self as Trinity: Rational, Emotional, and Eternal (or subconscious). Performed a scant five years before the Russian Revolution and simultaneously as Freud's big exposition of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego, the play is one of those moments where history seems to be suggesting bits and pieces of itself. What that all has to with Guy's piece is ponderous at best and known only to Guy. Even Brian Lynch's liner essay is speculative and academic.
Goodbye is one of, if not the most expansive and diverse collections pianist Bobo Stenson has ever released. This is his first ECM release in five years. Paul Motian takes over the drum chair vacated by Jon Christensen, and his shimmering, deep listening and subtlety add to the excellence and sheer quiet beauty of this recording. Goodbye is more a recording of songs than jazz pieces – at least in a traditional sense. This trio doesn't swing, they play, they slowly dance through the lyric pieces found here.
This reissue of Fusion and Thesis, the two albums the new Jimmy Giuffre 3 made in 1961, prior to their breakthrough and breakup in 1962, is nothing short of a revelation musically. Originally produced by Creed Taylor, who was still respectable back then, the two LPs have been complete remixed and remastered by ECM proprietor and chief producer Manfred Eicher and Jean Philippe Allard and contain complete material from both sessions resulting in one new track on Fusion and three more on Thesis.
Arild Andersen found one of his clearest avenues of expression with Masqualero, a group that brought him notably together with trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, saxophonist Tore Brunborg, and drummer Jon Christensen. On Aero, the group’s second album for ECM, he is joined also by Frode Alnaes, whose looming drones ebb and flow throughout the title opener, which seems to materialize out of nothing into a looming figure of delicate comportment and elegant mind. It is this figure whose footsteps Andersen articulates. In “Science” this figure shows us it can dance, fashioning a partner out of snatches of rain and cloud, autumn and snowdrift. The confidence of that stride is expressed in the superb dynamic contrasts of the band, only to be unraveled through Brunborg’s platonic soprano into a sonorous vulnerability.
Three years after leading Aero, Arild Andersen’s Masqualero outfit—by now a quartet with Jon Christensen on drums, Tore Brunborg on saxophones, and Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet—returned to ECM’s Rainbow Studio with a solid follow-up. On this outing the band seems most comfortable in its shoes, and uses that confidence to travel more abstract avenues of expression. The strident opening statement in the title cut is a case in point, for its conventions quickly slide down a banister of drums into a groovy bass line, mere preamble to some wild conversation between Molv?r and Brunborg, who rock that fulcrum with unrelenting conviction.
Though in step with its time, this release suffers from excessive reliance on ambient synthesizers, which litter much of the recording, rendering it only slightly more interesting than many of the Windham Hill new age recordings of the same era. Unfortunate, because the disc opens with strength and gradually peters out by the end. The disc opens with "He Came From the North," which features a melody based on a traditional Lapp joik from the artist's native Norway and progresses into a longer section with an interplay that is both sparse and rhythmic. The sax line here is astonishingly beautiful. The second piece, "Alchuri, the Song Man," a sax and percussion piece, is energetic and lively as well. And from here the energy gradually diminishes. Much can be attributed to popular styles of the time, but this release simply does not stand up to other music of its genre that came later.
Since founded in 1969 by Manfred Eicher, ECM Records (Edition of Contemporary Music) have released more than 1200 albums in a catalogue that boasts some of the most important artists of the last fifty years. Eicher’s talent for spotting the right artists to record for his label, and the quality of the finished product in terms of recording, production and artwork have transcended the labels initial reputation of having the ‘ECM sound’ to being acknowledged as producing music of exceptional quality in terms of both performance and recorded sound.