One of the more promiscuous violinists on the scene today, Mark Feldman has always strived to combine the unusual with the familiar. He's come a long way from his roots as a Nashville studio musician, recording with country giants such as Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, to his more recent forays on the New York avant-improv scene with neo-giants like John Zorn and Tim Berne. Feldman's new record, Music for Piano and Violin
, represents a logical progression from his 1995 Tzadik solo release Music for Violin Alone
, though it's unfortunate he didn't find more clever names for these records.
On the new Avant release, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier joins Feldman in a series of refined duets. Performed with an attitude of sophistication, these composition-heavy duets betray influences from (and occasionally use direct references to) the European classical tradition, particularly French impressionism. Feldman's playing, crystalline but fluid, evokes an intimate chamber music aesthetic. Courvoisier covers the range from lush chordal progressions to punchy clusters to light prepared-piano tinkles, constantly evolving a florid sense of drama. While the balance of improvisation and composition on this record tilts more toward the latter than usual, it's quite a refreshing change.
Personnel: Mark Feldman: violin; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano.