All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

5

Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Released in celebration of composer Harrison Birtwistle's 80th birthday; his Chamber Music on the ECM label, is a collection of introspective, minimalistic and superbly abstract mesmerizing works. The four pieces share a subtle yet definite theatricality and a sense of deep contemplation that has a visceral impact.

His "Trio" opens with pianist Till Fellner's furious, rapid-fire percussive notes followed by the gentle brooding strings. This contrast sets a tense ambience that is maintained throughout the composition by alternating Fellner's independent and assertive monologues with violinist Lisa Batiashvili's and cellist Adrian Brendel's angular yet supremely lyrical duets. The trio only plays together briefly in a cinematic conversation that features Batiashvili's agile and expressive bowing together with Fellner's sparse, evocative tones and Brendel's pizzicato punctuation. The stimulatingly vivid divergence is not only between piano and strings but there is also an intriguing and provocative stylistic distinction between Batiashvili and Brendel. While the former has a radiantly supple eloquence the latter brings an understated and darkly hued quietism to the performance.

Brendel showcases his versatility and his nimbleness on "Bogenstritch —Meditations on a poem of Rilke" incidentally written for his father the late pianist Alfred Brendel. Sandwiched between baritone Roderick Williams' two Lieds are three reflective piano and cello dialogues that range from the sparse and hypnotic "Variations" to the poetic and fiery "Lied Ohne Worte." On the latter Brendel's angular and melancholic solo demonstrates brief bursts of passion while on the former both him and Fellner make deft use of silent pauses to weave their musical tale. Fellner's thick chords and Brendel's furiously alternating con-arco and pizzicato flourishes flow in a tight, rhythmical dance on the stimulating "Wie Eine Fuge," the fourth movement of this absorbing opus. Williams' haunting, buttery voice unfurls over Fellner's carefully scattered keystrokes with mysticism on the first song while his smooth, pleading articulation glides over Brendel's reverberating strings on the last with a prayer like spirituality.

But Brendel's shining hour is his sublime accompaniment to soprano Amy Freston's entrancing interpretation of twelve of objectivist poet Lorine Niedecker's short yet complex and compelling verse. Their superb camaraderie allows them to seamlessly reflect Niedencker's haiku like serene wisdom. Brendel's bowed phrases, ending in a thump of plucked strings, set an expectant ambience around Freston's immaculate, chant like singing on "Always North of Him." Freston's vocals rise and fall in nimble, and fragile beauty over Brendel's shimmering, undulating tones on "O Late Fall." Meanwhile on the "Hear Where Her Snowgrave Is" Brendel sets a somber atmosphere for Freston's evocative and mournful aria.

With this series of intimate, often dramatic, frequently pensive and always captivating musical creations, Birtwistle demonstrates why he is one of the most compelling and innovative living composers. The disc, with its impeccable sound, is both emotionally and intellectually gratifying.

Track Listing: Three Settings of Lorine Niedecker; Trio; Bogenstrich Meditations on a poem of Rilke; Nine Settings of Lorine Niedecker.

Personnel: Lisa Batiashvili: violin; Adrian Brendel: cello; Till Fellner: piano; Amy Freston: soprano voice; Roderick Williams: baritone voice.

Title: Chamber Music | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Lifelike CD/LP/Track Review
Lifelike
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Whatever Possessed Me CD/LP/Track Review
Whatever Possessed Me
by Don Phipps
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live At The Fillmore East 1968 CD/LP/Track Review
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Pelagos" CD/LP/Track Review Pelagos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 3, 2017
Read "May I Introduce To You" CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Chimeric Stoned Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Chimeric Stoned Horn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Backstage Pass" CD/LP/Track Review Backstage Pass
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2018
Read "OR" CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Truth Decay" CD/LP/Track Review Truth Decay
by John Kelman
Published: March 7, 2018