This album is the tenth on Another Timbre (AT) featuring Magnus Granberg's music, making him the composer who has appeared most often on the label, his first release having been Ist gefallen in den Schnee in 2012. Ironically, Evening Star, Vesper Bell also marks the first time Granberg has recorded with Apartment House, who have practically become the AT house band, this being their twenty-eighth appearance on the label. Granberg has also released albums on other labels, most notably three releases on the Japanese Meena label; two of those were different versions of the same piece, "Come Down to Earth Where Sorrow Dwelleth," with different instruments used; the third Meena release was an alternative version of a piece released on AT, "How Lonely Sits the City?" again with different instrumentation. Such experimentation with different versions of his compositions is compatible with the nature of the pieces themselves. Instead of giving musicians a fixed score of a piece, Granberg gives them various musical materials which they are free to play at a time of their choosing, depending on the ensemble sound at that moment. So, given the decisions of the musicians, two renditions of a piece are very unlikely to be the same, note for note, although they may have similar moods. The musical materials Granberg uses are often derived from classical works, religious music, show tunes, etc, not necessarily copied note for note. For example, for "Evening Star, Vesper Bell" some of the musical materials were derived from the very different "Abendbilder" by Franz Schubert and "So in Love" by Cole Porter. Recorded by Simon Reynell, at Goldsmith's Music Studio, in November 2022, the fifty-four-minute piece has Granberg himself on prepared piano with five members of Apartment House playing viola, violin, cello, clarinet and vibraphone plus percussion. The music they create is a testament to the experience the musicians have all had of improvising. The soundscape is never overcrowded or cluttered as all concerned display respect for their fellow musicians and for the composition itself. Throughout, every instrument can be heard clearly and every musician is a model of good taste and restraint. It would not seem right to single anyone out for praise as the success of this performance is due to all concerned. Highly recommended.
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