3

Garth Knox: Saltarello

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Garth Knox: Saltarello Violist Garth Knox is certainly not a jazzman in the traditional sense of the word. Nevertheless, he is well adept at musical improvisation. He has worked with the revolutionary Ensemble Intercontemporain with its cross-genre experimentation, as well as pioneers of free jazz such as Joelle Leandre, George Lewis and Steve Lacy.

Knox's "Fuga Libre," on the sublime Saltarello, amply demonstrates these skills in improvisation. This solo viola piece flirts with the avant-garde while keeping the classical canon firmly in view. Contemplative and melancholic at times, yet eerily quiet at others, Knox brings this unique fugue to a satisfying conclusion with his expert handling of the strings.

Over the past fifteen years, Knox has also developed into one of the premier interpreters of idiosyncratic 20th century composers including Iannis Xenakis, Hans Werner Henze, and Alfred Schnittke. On this album he deftly interprets Kaija Saariaho's "Vent Nocturne," which was written expressly for Knox. Saariaho's characteristic lush essence and enigmatic ambience is often the result of mixing electronics with live instruments and they come across on this impressionistic concerto.

The concerto's first movement, "Sombres Miroirs," mimics the chilling blow of wind at night, with snippets of sweet melody while angst travels on its currents. Knox's bowing on the second, "Soupirs de L'Obscur," is quieter than the first, but with no less anguish as it shrouds itself in mysticism.

In between the two parts of "Vent Nocturne," is an interlude of renaissance lutist, John Dowland's signature song, "Flow My Tears." French cellist and frequent collaborator, Agnes Vesterman joins Knox and his viola d'amore for a duet. Her transcendent sound and mercurial style match Knox's perfectly and the gentle echo of notes creates a surreal yet calming sanctuary.

Knox started a revival of period instruments, particularly viola d'amore, for both contemporary interpretation of classics and modern music. In addition to the main strings, this particular chordophone has a warm, sweet, sympathetic tone. On the folk tune, "Black Brittany," the distinct voice of viola d'amore conjures idyllic scenes while Vesterman's glissandos bring in a romantic urban modernity.

Knox also plays the medieval fiddle on a medley of two early musical compositions: a sacred one by Christian mystic, Hildegard von Bingen, and a secular one by medieval French poet, Guillaume de Machaut. Sylvain Lemêtre joins him on percussion, bringing an Andalousian earthiness to the otherwise ethereal spirituality of the originals.

Classically trained Lemêtre has an adventurous spirit that comes across on the three traditional dances that pepper the Italian structure with hints of Celtic and Levantine.

With Saltarello, Garth Knox has created a work that spans a thousand years and brings together the heritage of multiple cultures. In a way, it is a career defining moment as he distills all his interests and influences into a single disc.


Track Listing: Black Brittany; Music for a while; Concerto for viola d’amore in d-minor RV 393; Fuga libre for viola solo; Ave, generosa; Complainte tels rit au main qui au soir pleure; Vent nocturne sombres miroirs (Dark Mirrors); Flow my tears; Vent nocturne soupirs de l’obscur (Breaths of the Obscure); Three Dances; Pipe, harp and fiddle.

Personnel: Garth Knox: fiddle, viola, viola d’amore; Agnès Vesterman: cello; Sylvain Lemêtre: percussion.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ECM Records


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Red Nation "1"" CD/LP/Track Review Red Nation "1"
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Bright Side" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Side
by David A. Orthmann
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Moving Still" CD/LP/Track Review Moving Still
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 12, 2016
Read "Deep Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Deep Memory
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!