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Film Review

Ganelin Trio Priority: Live at the Lithuanian Philharmony Vilinius 2005


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Ganelin Trio Priority
Live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilnius 2005
Nemu Records

This video-audio document of an on-location performance presents the Ganelin Trio Priority at its best. This trio—led by Russian-born Israeli composer Vyacheslav Ganelin with Lithuanian saxophonist Petras Vysniauskas and German drummer Klaus Kugel —is the main musical vehicle of Ganelin in the last years, with a steady touring schedule (including a concert in the forthcoming Vision Festival), following upon the many years that Ganelin did not lead such a close and inspiring musical unit. In fact, this is his strongest ensemble since the heyday of the first Ganelin Trio, almost twenty-five years ago, when his trio, comprising saxophonist Vladimir Chekassin and drummer Vladimir Tarasov, amazed Europe with their daring inventiveness and the richness of their musical canvases.

The musical strategy of this trio has not changed much since that first edition, but it sounds even richer, more mature, less urgent and raging, and the DVD format supplies enough room for all the pieces selected for the program to breathe and blossom. The royal atmosphere of the impressive hall and the many angles of cameras contribute to the replication of the unique experience of this excellent concert. The first piece, "Conversation I," begins with an enchanting Eastern theme, exceptionally tender and sweet, played by Ganelin on the piano and synthesizer. Kugel expands upon this light texture with varied colors that he draws while bowing the cymbals and using bells. By the time that Vysniauskas joins in, the theme gains momentum and velocity. But what sounded at first as spontaneous, open-structured though highly communicative improvisation, without a pre-conceived road map, is led by Ganelin with structural consistency to the opening theme that anchors this suite of over thirty minutes.

The second piece, the almost forty-minute "Conversation II," begins with a much more eruptive tone, and features some arresting solos by Vysniauskas, who windmills his soprano sax as this piece soars, an almost abstract-tribal percussive duet between Ganelin and Kugel, highlighted by Ganelin's clever use of the synthesizer to enhance the dramatic conclusion of the piece. Some of the most explicit references to the sophistication and playfulness of the Ellingtonian legacy are also prominent in this set, and again Ganelin manages to navigate these free-form dramatic and stormy outbursts toward a sensible coda that, in effect, summarizes what we have just heard. The last piece, the beautiful "Homage To Friends," begins as a lyrical and romantic love letter, at times sounding like a tribute to Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian Quartet with the folksy sax playing of Jan Garbarek, but with different ornamentation, transforming it into a more abstract tone-poem before returning the listener to the romantic theme.

Highly recommended.

Visit Ganelin Trio on the web.

Tracks: Conversation I; Conversation II; Homage To Friends

Personnel: Vyacheslav Ganelin: piano, synthesizer, percussion; Petras Vysniauskas: alto & soprano saxophones; Klaus Kugel: drums, percussion

Production Notes: Total; time: 1:27:19. Recorded live at the Lithuanian National Philharmony Vilinius, Lithuania, by Jonas Kavaliauskas (Pramogu Fortas) on May 27th, 2005

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