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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefano Pastor & Charlotte Hug: Paragon D'archi

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The title of the debut duo album of Swiss viola player and vocalist Charlotte Hug and Italian violinist Stefano Pastor is symbolic and insightful. Archi in Italian means bows, as the ones used for the string instruments of Hug and Pastor, but also arches, as in architectural structures. Yet the spectacular, improvised duets of these two masters do not attempt to be perfect structures, musical equivalents of baroque paragons. These duets suggest newer, inventive means for playing with sounds, using the studio space and expanding the vocabulary of its instruments, by fusing energy, sensuality, austerity, polyphony, sublime melody, and obviously, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlotte Hug & Frederic Blondy: Bouquet

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This meeting of French pianist Frédric Blondy and Switzerland's Charlotte Hug on viola and voice was studio-recorded in March 2008 in Paris. Performing as a duo since 2005, Hug and Blondy continue to do so. The album sleeve bears a phrase that is increasingly seen in recent years: “No overdubbing or electronic modification was used." In other words, everything on the album was played by the two musicians in real time. However, the aural evidence may lead some to doubt that; at times, it suggests that several players are at work rather than just two, so complex and detailed are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlotte Hug: Slipway to Galaxies

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There has always been something special about a performance by Charlotte Hug. Her revolutionary playing celebrated in the unique “soft-bowing" technique has turned the shrill glissandi of the viola into hues of deep, indulgent warmth. As her passion for the human interaction with her instrument developed, she began to meld her unique vocalistics, as well as her “Son-Icons" into her artful reinvention of the viola and her music. Although nothing about her work may ever be described as typical, Slipway to Galaxies is a fine example of the fine and heady mixture of Hug's musical odysseys. Here, she wakes the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlotte Hug: Slipway to Galaxies

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On parts of her last Emanem release, Fine Extensions (2010)--a duo with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm--in addition to playing her customary viola Charlotte Hug also used her voice. She sang in a quasi-operatic style as well as vocalizing, to produce eerie, other-worldly sounds, her voice combining with and complementing the strings to good effect. Now, on Slipway to Galaxies, Hug uses her voice for the first time on a solo recording. Recorded at the studio of Swiss radio DRS, in Zurich, in July 2010, Slipway to Galaxies uses no overdubbing or electronic modification. That is vital information as, at ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlotte Hug / Fred Lonberg-Holm: Fine Extensions

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Viola and cello have coexisted in splendid harmony on the concert stage for hundreds of years, both instruments bolstering powerful orchestral settings for every composer, even before Haydn, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven employed violin and cello in compositions with vivid effect. What delights the inner ear, however, especially on the brazen Fine Extensions, is the fact that these instruments transcend all earlier sonic relationships between the strings. Locked in the embrace of a tonal adventure, jousting with one another, egging each other on with brave linearity, vertically and horizontally, to explore every aspect of the machinations of sound and its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlotte Hug / Fred Lonberg-Holm: Fine Extensions

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Dating from a concert in Zurich in March 2009, this duo between violist Charlotte Hug and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm adds to the impressive array of improvising string recordings already on Emanem. The viola and cello--the two middle members of the violin family--overlap in the pitches they can produce, so the combination makes for fascinating listening; mainly, their sounds are distinct enough to be clearly distinguishable, but sometimes they play in similar ranges so that they blend together more. Hug and Lonberg-Holm have history dating back to Chicago in 2005, with their first duo album (Flying Aspidistra #5) having been released ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlotte Hug: Neuland (2001-2)

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In a relatively short time in London, Swiss violist Charlotte Hug (pronounced Hoog) made a big impression through her work at All Angels, with Tony Wren's Quatuor Accorde, at the Freedom of the City festival with Maggie Nichols & Caroline Kraabel and with the London Improvisers' Orchestra.She is somewhat renowned for performing in unusual venues. These have included ice caverns of the Rhone Glacier, and an acoustically insulated S&M torture chamber. Hug herself is a dramatic performer, strikingly beautiful, with flowing blonde locks. That in itself can be a problem, as a recording alone can fail to convey ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maggie Nichols / Caroline Kraabel / Charlotte Hug: Transitions

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OK, quiz time: Can you name another all-female small improvising group. (Currently, I can't think of one. But I'm sure one of you will be able to.) Gender is a relevant issue here, because many of the qualities that make for successful improvisation are (stereo)typically female--behaving co-operatively rather than competitively, listening and responding sensitively to what one hears, making time and space for the contributions of others. And so it proves here; the vocals (largely wordless; like an instrument), viola and sax complement each other well. The music evolves gently, without anyone forcing the issue or trying to dominate. There ...



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