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Graz Composers Orchestra meets Claudia Döffinger: Monochrome

Hrayr Attarian By

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The title of composer and pianist Claudia Döffinger's collaboration with Graz Composers Orchestra, Monochrome, is a bit of a misnomer. The seven pieces, five by Döffinger, are definitely not in shades of a single color. They are multitextured, vibrantly-hued and captivating, and often coalesce around one or two instruments like Kaleidoscopic patterns around light beams.

For instance, the funky "Mumpitz" has a loose, swaggering cadence and energetic sparring between the band's three sections. At the core of the tune is trombonist Karel Eriksson's eloquent and agile solo that embellishes the melody within the ensemble's exhilaratingly riotous performance. Percussionist Conrado Molina brings an Afro-Cuban touch to the exuberant conclusion.

Elsewhere, the cinematic "White Note Exorcist" is reminiscent of a contemplative film soundtrack. The overlapping segments and their counterpoints create the tension that marks the disc's opener. Saxophonist Patrick Dunst's melancholic soprano meanders in luminescent, sinewy lines amid the darkly-hued collective sound. The sweeping orchestral performance leads to bassist Michael Ringer's lyrical improvisation.

The title track meanwhile is laced with an eastern spirituality as languid vamps create a serene and ethereal ambience. Döffinger's introspective pianism adds a darker dimension. Guitarist Manuel Schuster's resonant notes and simmering phrases go from pensive to blistering and blues-drenched as the music progresses.

"Elephant," which Döffinger arranged but did not pen, is a hypnotic and sometimes symphonic song. Drummer Thomas Stabler's percolating beats propel the swinging group performance. Conductor Johannes Oppel leads the orchestra in buoyant motifs around Döffinger's cascading keys and vocalist Ursula Reicher's lilting mellifluous intonations.

Döffinger won the Downbeat Student Music Award in 2017 and in2018. She also received a commendation from the 3rd International Composition Contest in Katowice Poland. Monochrome makes it clear that all those accolades are well deserved. It also demonstrates that Döffinger is an original artist with a brilliant career ahead of her.

Track Listing: White Note Exorcist; Monochrome; Foxes; Der Vierundzwanzigste Sommer; Choke On It!; Elephant; Mumpitz.

Personnel: Patrick Dunst: sax, flute; Anna Keller: sax, clarinet; Marcelo Valezi: sax, clarinet; Thomas Fröschl: sax, bass clarinet; Florian Baur: baritone sax; Dominik Pessl, Gerhard Ornig, Jakob Helling, Markus Krofitsch: trumpet, flugelhorn; Karl-Heinz Tappler: horn; Matyas Papp, Karel Eriksson, Christian Godetz: trombone; Johannes Oppel: bass trombone; Georg Laller: tuba; Ursula Reicher: vocals, synth; Manuel Schuster: guitar; Claudia Döffinger: piano; Michael Ringer: bass; Conrado Monlina: percussion; Thomas Stabler: drums.

Title: Monochrome | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: QFTF Records

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CD/LP/Track Review
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Monochrome

Monochrome

QFTF Records
2018

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