The Kultrum collaboration between Argentinian bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi and the Munich-based German-Austrian-Australian Rosamunde Quartet was initiated in 1996. Featuring Saluzzi's chamber music for bandoneon and string quartet, Kultrum is both a "departure" and an extension of Dino's previous ECM recordings (in fact the title echoes that of his first disc for the label), in which - as Swiss critic Peter Rüedi has noted - he acknowledges and then transgresses the boundaries: between composition and improvisation, between so-called serious and popular music, between folk music and jazz and tango.
The genesis of the project, however, can be traced back specifically to Saluzzi's solo album Andina of 1988 and a small piece added as a postscript to that session. The sound of the bandoneon on "Memories" seemed to imply a wave of orchestration, and the suggestion that a string quartet could bring this out more fully was left for Saluzzi to ponder.
In the interim, the Rosamunde Quartet - whose tastes are unusually comprehensive for a classical ensemble - raised Saluzzi's name among a list of enthusiasms from Haydn to Nono in the course of production discussions with ECM. A Munich concert by the Saluzzi Trio provided an opportunity for Dino and cellist Anja Lechner to meet and exchange ideas and in June 1996, the Saluzzi-Rosamunde collective began rehearsing together.
Saluzzi insists that tango players would have been inadequate interpreters of his new music. "I needed freedom from the tango form. At the same time, I also feel responsibility to conserve the tradition, and it's dangerous to move, but we have to move." Not least to defend the territory from the numerous classical players claiming Argentine inspirations this season - now that Piazzolla is safely dead!
The Kultrum project has toured over the last two years, to critical and public acclaim, as Saluzzi and the quartet have honed the material. A few days before the recording at the Austrian monastery of St Gerold (site of such significant New Series recordings as the Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble Officium album, Giya Kancheli's Exil, Paul Giger's Schattenwelt, Michelle Makarski's Caoine and Eduard Brunner's Dal Niente), the collective played an ecstatically-received concert at Munich's Prinzregententheater.
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The Rosamunde Quartet's first New Series album - contrasting compositions by Webern, Shostakovich and Burian – was described by England's Observer as "one of the finest discs to come from ECM in recent times" and also received the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis. Formed in 1991, the group has made its mark rather quickly, its accelerated development partly attributable to the encouragement of the late Sergiu Celibidache. The Rosamunde Quartet gave its first public performance at the Berliner Festwochen in 1992 and has since performed at major festivals and given concerts internationally.
Andreas Reiner, first violin, was born in Vienna and studied with Werner Ehrenreiter and Itzhak Perlman, and is the recipient of awards from several international competitions. Simon Fordham, second violin, was born in Australia and studied with Brian Blake, Rosa Fain and the Amadeus Quartet. Helmut Nicolai, viola, started his career as a member of the Berlin Philharmonic and gave solo performances under the direction of Celibidache. Cellist Anja Lechner studied with Janos Starker, Heinrich Schiff and Jan Polasek and has significantly wide-ranging interests, which include not only the classical repertoire but also free improvisation and tango nuevo. Indeed, she has a 14-year history of working with tango and has released four albums, for Wergo and Farao, in this genre (one, Tango à Trois, also features Andreas Reiner), and is clearly well-placed to undertake the collaboration with Saluzzi...* * *
Timoteo "Dino" Saluzzi was born in Campo Santo in the North of Argentina and led his first group at the age of 14. He began to play professionally while studying in Buenos Aires, where he also joined the Orquesta Estable and met and befriended Astor Piazzolla, then in the process of developing the tango nuevo idiom. In 1956, Saluzzi returned to the district of Salta to concentrate on his compositions, now consciously incorporating folk music elements. In the early 1970s he was briefly associated with Gato Barbieri, helping the saxophonist toward a rediscovery of his own roots on such albums as Chapter One: Latin America.
Saluzzi's ECM discography was launched in 1982 with the solo album Kultrum, a spontaneous and enduring example of the bandoneonist's art as "storyteller"; this was the first of many "imaginary returns" to the little towns and villages of his childhood. From the beginning of the 1980s Saluzzi made numerous collaborations with European and American jazz musicians - amongst those initiated by ECM were meetings with Charlie Haden, Palle Mikkelborg and Pierre Favre (Once Upon A Time...Far Away In The South), with Enrico Rava (Volver) and with Marc Johnson (Cité de la Musique).
CD package includes 24-page three-language booklet with liner notes by Peter Rüedi and Steve Lake