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May 31 , 2014

Reviews of the week

The Los Angeles Times on Tigran Mansurian’s Quasi Parlando, with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Anja Lechner and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Spellbinding work of beauty […] The Mansurian program is a woman’s affair with the young Moldavian violinist joined by cellist Anja Lechner and Amsterdam Sinfonietta conducted by its leader, Candida Thompson. Kopatchinskaja brings resilient radiance to Mansurian’s 2006 hauntingly plaintive Second Violin concerto (‘Four serious Songs’), which takes its cue from late Brahms.
In two recent short works for soloist and strings – ‘Romance’ (written in 2011 for Kopatchinskaja) and ‘Quasi Parlando’ (written in 2012 for Lechner), both soloists luxuriously capture the composer’s fluctuating twilight luminosity. The much earlier Double Concerto (1976) is more brittle, a quiet surface which is broken by an anger that has now become profoundly philosophical, and it is played with impeccable intensity.
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times


English and German reviewers on Harrison Birtwistle’s Chamber Music

As one would expect from an ECM recording, the sound is pristine and tonally lustrous, with a heightened sense of atmosphere. Soprano Amy Freston and Adrian Brendel deliver the aphoristic settings of Lorine Niedecker with luminous focus, each a haiku-like, dew-fresh miracle. The composer’s only Piano Trio, performed here with Lisa Batiashvilli, is a more urgently rhetorical affair than the other pieces. Birtwistle deals with balance issues by engaging the strings in elaborate two-part counterpoint, while the piano pursues its own undulating or spiky path, and only rarely do the three mesh. An important release
Helen Wallace, Amati.com

So wie Niedeckers Naturbilder, die eigentlich Seelenbilder sind, kein Wort zu viel sagen, findet Birtwistle hier eine Sprache, die sich total zurücknimmt und dabei unmittelbar anrührt. Amy Frestons Sopran lässt die elegischen Linien hier wunderbar unprätentios durch einsame Räume schweben. Aber eigentlich ist Adrian Brendels hochsensibles Cello der heimliche Hauptdarsteller dieser ganz der lyrischen Seite Birtwistle’s verpflichteten Produktion.
Dirk Wieschollek, Fono Forum


The San Francisco Chronicle on Meredith Monk’s Piano Songs

Though the pieces are billed as songs, they’re dances too, with all the rhythmic vitality and weight that that entails – at times they conjure up Monk’s characteristic choreography, with its puckish stomps and bends. The result, in ardent and expansive performances by Ursula Oppens and Bruce Brubaker, is a stretch of winsome and ebullient musical poetry.
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle


Leading Swiss papers on Wolfgang Muthspiel’s new album Dritwood with Larry Grenadier and Brian Blade

Starke, interaktive Musik zwischen Muthspiels auch auf dem E-Instrument immer poetisch durchsichtiger Gitarre und ihren Kontrapunkten, Grenadiers singendem akustischem Holzbass und Brian Blades allgemeiner Verunsicherung der subtilen polyvalenten Rhythmik. Qualitäten wie Wohlklang und Swing sind dabei keineswegs tabu.
Peter Rüedi, Die Weltwoche

‚Driftwood‘ überzeugt durch Innigkeit, Virtuosität und Souplesse. Das kurze Titelstück ist eine vom Produzenten Manfred Eicher angeregte Improvisation, die übrigen Stücke sind ausgefuchste Kompositionen von Muthspiel. […] die Tonqualität des in den Osloer Rainbow Studios aufgenommenen Albums ist von beglückender Plastizität; das Interplay der drei Musiker überzeugt ebenso wie die individuellen Leistungen.
Manfred Papst, NZZ am Sonnntag


The Irish Times reviews Paul Bley’s new solo recording Play Blue Oslo Concert

Bley has made a particularly distinguished contribution to the language of the trio, setting new standards of communication between musicians, but only rarely has he put his solo performances on record. […] Here is one of the great pianists of the modern era thinking aloud, letting his thoughts spill out onto the keyboard with a clarity that is transfixing in its lyrical embrace.
Cormac Larkin, Irish Times


German magazine Jazzthing on Inventio by Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini

Die Kombination zweiter voll klingender Instrumente wie dem Akkordeon und der aus der Zeitgefallen anmutenden Nyckelharpa […] suggeriert ein ganzes Kammerorchester. […] die konzeptionelle Leistung der beiden Virtuosen ist gar nicht hoch genug zu bewerten. Viel schwerer wiegt jedoch der Umstand, dass es ihnen intuitiv gelingt, die Zeitungebundenheit jeder tief empfundenen musikalischen Empfindung zu manifestieren. Ein Album das emotional berührt, seine Mysterien aber erst nach mehrfachem Hören preisgibt.
Wolf Kampmann, Jazzthing


British daily The Guardian on Jacob Young’s Forever Young

Guitarist Jacob Young is once again partnered by his closely attuned old friend, the delicate saxophonist Trygve Seim – but following a meeting with Marcin Wasilewski at the 2012 Oslo jazz festival, that relationship blooms in fertile new ground laid by Polish pianist Wasilewski's brilliant trio. […] The combination of Young's acoustic sound with the vapour trails of Seim's gently pungent improvisations, or his rounded electric tone against Wasilewski's probing piano figures, make this a set full of undemonstrative surprises and contrasts, and the quality of the composing matches the formidable powers of the band.
John Fordham, The Guardian


New reactions from the United Kingdom to Le Vent by the Colin Vallon Trio

Assisted by Patrice Moret on bass and Julian Sartorius on drums, Vallon explores a series of pieces notable chiefly for their pensive lyricism. It would be easy to dismiss this as superior mood music, the soundtrack to a day spent watching raindrops gather on the window of some European café, but Vallon is after something more profound, always calibrating the touch and weight of his phrases with great emotional precision, abetted by the sympathetic and imaginative work of his colleagues.
Richard Williams, The Blue Moment

It’s exquisitely sensitive with all three musicians exploring the beauty of sound. Each hearing brings something new, from a delicately falling note to an awareness of a subtly developing rhythm.
Peter BEvan, Northern Echo