Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Christian Wallumrod Ensemble: Fabula Suite Lugano

561

Christian Wallumrod Ensemble: Fabula Suite Lugano

By

Sign in to view read count
Christian Wallumrod Ensemble: Fabula Suite Lugano
Christian Wallumrød has that rare gift of having an instantly recognizable sound. The pianist's music is characterized by unique blend of early music, romanticism, and traditional Scandinavian folk music idioms played with the looseness of jazz and academic curiosity reminiscent of two of his major influences, John Cage and Morton Feldman. Wallumrød has managed to harmonise these contradictory elements to create a wondrously obscure new music. However, the sound is never dependent on the polarity of these oppositions; its existence and strength lie in the blurring of these lines.

Fabula Suite Lugano is the second outing with the composer's ensemble, following its first release, The Zoo Is Far (ECM, 2007), replete with Baroque harp, Hardinger fiddle, cello, viola, and percussion. All of the previous members of the ensemble have returned except Arve Henriksen, who is adequately replaced by Eivind Lønning; a trumpeter with his own incisive voice. Like its predecessor, Fabula Suite Lugano contains a large program of songs and fragments, creating a varied listening experience. Containing its own distinct textural detail, each track provides examples of all of the composer's influences/concerns in a constantly mutating musical landscape.

"Jumpa" and "Jumpa 2" are smothered in the typical folksiness of Wallumrød's early work, rising and falling with rhythmic string arrangements; luminous shafts of light which create the landscape for Wallumrød's percussive playing. Like night swallowing day, both pieces evaporate it lulling melancholy. And it is this same aching melancholy that is pronounced on "Quote Funebre," a dusty piano dirge that broods and skulks around the tragic drone of the Hardinger fiddle. The fiddle is exchanged for cello on "The Gloom and the Best Man," the strings moaning around the dank warmth of Wallumrød's low caress as the trumpet literally growls and sputters its uncanny tones.

Experiments "Snake" and "Knit" show the ensemble at their disquieting best. Both contain the tension between two competing melodic statements, the parallels revealing something all together new and special. "Knit" especially displays a slow fluctuating divergence of melody and tone. "Duo" contains even more uncanny sounds, the instruments bent unrecognizably to create the voice of some otherworldly beast. On "I Had A Mother Who Could Swim," cello and trumpet are employed with the same supernatural fashion. The combination of these timbres seem to create an unmistakable human voice, emphasizing the mournful quality of the piece.

If all this sounds academic, be assured that Wallumrød's music is full of life and astounding beauty. Although the ensembles music could be accused of being clinical, "Blop" and "Valse Dolcissima" are examples of how this group creates perfect vistas of gorgeous melody. Even at their most experimental, the group's explorations breathe with life, frighteningly mirroring natural ambiences. More manageable than the previous album, Fabula Suite Lugano again clarifies this Norwegian composer's brilliance. His mastery is found in the ingenious juxtaposition of acoustic timbres and in the effectiveness of his confluence of disparate influences. Another entrancing and rewarding entry to this singular composer's canon.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Fabula Suite Lugano | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
This Celestial Engine
This Celestial Engine
Flax
Martin Arnold
Whisper Not
Paul Kendall

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.