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Florian Ross: Architexture

Jerome Wilson By

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Florian Ross: Architexture
Writing about music has been compared to dancing about architecture, in that it is a supposedly useless task. Writing music about architecture is a worthwhile proposition, though, as shown by this release from German pianist Florian Ross, composing music for his quartet and the Event Wind Ensemble which is inspired by famous architects and buildings he has encountered in his travels.

This music plays like an updating of the Third Stream genre, combining classical formality and jazz fluidity. That is shown on tracks such as "Maya," named for Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the woodwinds of the wind ensemble set up a near-baroque structure for saxophonist Sebastian Gille to gently warble and improvise on. On "Antoni," for Antoni Gaudi, the reeds dance and whirl as Fabian Arends' drums keep a lively rhythm going and Gille flies on soprano sax, developing a bluesy tinge which is nudged along by Ross' piano. "Daniel," for Daniel Burnham, architect of New York's Flatiron Building, has a bustling feel with piano powering through a forest of woodwinds before Gille comes in with a shrill soprano saxophone solo over elegant piano romping. "Richard," for Richard Neutra, has a friendly but reserved melody begun by piano and tenor sax and then fleshed out by the entire ensemble. The drums give the music weight as the reeds and piano expand slowly and gracefully, and the subsequent tenor sax and piano solos bring real emotion into the piece.

Ross wrote most of these compositions but "Brinkwells Cottage" is his arrangement of the "Nimrod" section of Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations." The woodwinds begin here, playing very solemn and stately. Then the quartet gives its own spin on the theme, playing at the same deliberate tempo but with Gille's tenor sax giving a shaped, moaning sound as the rhythm section quietly steps along. "Oscar," for Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, is the liveliest piece. The woodwinds hop to a danceable Brazilian rhythm before Gille goes wild on soprano sax, vaulting and shrieking over the entire ensemble.

Florian Ross brings the classical and jazz worlds together in interesting ways here. He has the wind ensemble erecting a formal frame for the music while the quartet injects it with mischievous life, especially Sebastian Gille on his various saxophones. This CD shows that architecture can inspire fine music.

Track Listing

Alvaro; Richard; Maya; Antoni; Development One; Glebe Cottage; Development Two; Development Three; Daniel; Development Four; Brinkwells Cottage; Oscar.

Personnel

Florian Ross: piano; Sebastian Gille: saxophone; David Helm : bass, acoustic; Fabian Arends: drums; Susanne Blumenthal: composer/conductor.

Additional Instrumentation

The Event Wind Ensemble: Lucy Driver: alto flute; Matthew Higham: flute; Anja Schmiel: oboe; Kyusang Jeong: clarinet; Kristof Domotor: bass clarinet; Ambroise Dojat: bassoon; Chris Weddle: French horn.

Album information

Title: Architexture | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Naxos Of America, Inc

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