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Queen Mab Trio: Thin Air

Kurt Gottschalk By

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Queen Mab "gallops night by night, through lovers' brains and then they dream of love, at least the Fairy Queen Mab of Romeo and Juliet does and if that's a bit sweet, even a bit specious an image to cast upon an all-woman trio, it does make an impression (and after all, they chose what to name their band).

The music of the two-parts-Canadian-one-part-Dutch group is light yet evocative and has a way—something like a fairy in a hazelnut-shell chariot dashing through your head—of setting the mind adrift. Without percussion and often staying in midrange, clarinetist Lori Freedman, violist Ig Henneman and pianist Marilyn Lerner play a music that is light yet complex, with a feeling of spontaneity while clearly, at times, composed.

For their fourth record, they've looked their literary namesake dead on. They've taken Hector Berlioz' "Queen Mab Suite, from his Romeo and Juliet symphony for orchestra and voice, but familiarity with that work isn't requisite for falling into the Queen Mab Trio's dreamland. They use their instruments to great variety without ever forcing them beyond their voices and find various means of creating textures, even on Freedman's "Nab Mab, with syncopated whispering. Ultimately, they find their own, compelling ways of mixing the so-called "classical language of 19th century Europe with contemporary modes of improvisation. None of that is requisite, either, however. Better just to let them gallop lightly through your brain.

Track Listing: Thin Air; Vehement; Drums and Trumpets; Hersenpinsels; Nab Mab; Fluette et Legere; Skirmishes and Sudden Thrusts; Tumulte; Spiders Fingers.

Personnel: Lori Freedman: bass clarinet, clarinet; Ig Henneman: viola; Marilyn Lerner: piano.

Title: Thin Air | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Wig


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