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Besides being the most inventive of double bassists, the late Stefano Scodanibbio was a sound-sculptor of unmatched imagination, as demonstrated in this radical programme of string quartet arrangements of Bach, Spanish guitar music and Mexican popular songs, performed with quicksilver grace by Quartetto Prometeo. Scodanibbio's methods involve displacing some harmonics an octave higher, and slowing tempos drastically, refracting the pieces as if underwater. The three Bach “Contrapunctus” from The Art of Fugue are distilled into chilled, skeletal forms, ice-sculptures of slow but glistening sonorities. The more populist “Canzoniere Messicano”, while sharing the glacial harmonic shifts, have a lusher, more indulgent flavour.
Andy Gill, The Independent

Ein ‘Traumprojekt’ hatte sich der Italiener Stefano Scodanibbio da ausgedacht, ein radikales Arrangement unter dem Titel ‘Reinventions’. Der begnadete, 2012 gestorbene Kontrabassist war ein Pionier Neuer Musik, der eng mit Nono, Cage, Riley und Xenakis zusammengearbeitet hat. Als Komponist nahm er drei Stücke aus Bachs Fugenkosmos und brachte sie mit Liedtranskriptionen aus Mexiko und Spanien in eine Abfolge: Die Stimmen sind in entfernte Lagen versetzt, das sensible Quartetto Prometeo erzeugt so Streicherklänge, die wie von der Glasharmonika tönen – auf das Zerbrechlichste eine Geisterbeschwörung.
Wolfgang Schreiber, Süddeutsche Zeitung

This is a very special unique disc, achieving a late ambition of this famous double bass virtuoso and composer, who died in 2012 of motor neurone disease. With Spanish and Mexican transcriptions, framed by three of Bach’s Contrapuncti from the Art of Fugue, these arrangements or re-compositions for string quartet begin by reminding you of the ethereal sounds of Mozart’s glass harmonica. They concentrate on special effects, harmonics, sul ponticello and sul tasto, tempi generally slow so that they can be fully savoured. Something unique and a marvellous memorial [...] Beautifully played here with great sensitivity the disc makes for wonderful late night listening; [...] Recommended unreservedly.
Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers

Seine ‚Reinventions’ sind Musik über Musik: mit großem Einfühlungsvermögen und Fantasie verfertigte Instrumentationen und Neulektüren von Stücken aus Bachs Kunst der Fuge bi s zu volkstümlichen Melodien spanischer und mexikanischer Herkunft. Eine leicht schwermütige Poesie liegt über den zerbrechlichen, obertonreichen Stücken.
Max Nyffeler, Neue Musikzeitung

Egal ob es um Bachs Contrapuncti, die spanischen Gitarrenstücke oder die mexikanischen Lieder geht, was Scodanibbio aus ihnen machte, ist mit dem Begriff Bearbeitung im Kern kaum getroffen. In der zeitlichen Dehnung und klanglichen Verfremdung handelt es sich tatsächlich um Neuerfindungen von Musik, um fragile, delikate Wiederentdeckungen, die silbrig, geheimnisvoll, gläsern, seltsam traurig und tröstlich zugleich wie im Traum aus einer fernen Welt herüber wehen.
Das Quartette Prometeo realisierte diese wunderbaren 65 Minuten Musik ein Jahr vor Scodanibbios Tod mit atemberaubender Klangkultur, Raffinesse und Hingabe. Die enorme Erfahrung mit zeitgenössischer Musik ist jedem Ton dieser CD ebenso anzuhören wie die Liebe, mit der die vier italienischen Musiker hier zu Werke gingen. Eine musikalisch großartige, emotional anrührende Veröffentlichung.
Oswald Beaujean, BR Klassik
As a double bass player, Scodanibbio perhaps yearned for higher frequencies; much of this writing for string quartet is based on harmonics so that the music appears to float out of the stratosphere. What comes across is the composer's intense love for his material, which alternates between haunting Mexican folk songs (including the bewitching Bésame mucho), pieces originally for guitar, and dislocations of three of Bach'sArt of Fugue. Totally original sounds, wonderfully realised by Quartetto Prometeo.
Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer

Scodanibbio died last December of motor neurone disease, aged 55; he was previously known to me for his work with Terry Riley, but his other collaborators included Luigi Nono, Iannis Xenakis, Brian Ferneyhough, Markus Stockhausen and Vinko Globokar. His work is founded on extended instrumental techniques making powerful use of string harmonics [...] In the compositions selected for Reinventions, which was recorded two years before his death, three items from Bach’s ‘The Art of Fugue’ are juxtaposed with sequences of guitar pieces from Spain and songs from Mexico, and in all cases the results are striking. The combination of the harmonics and the sounds produced by ‘normal’ bowing and pizzicato techniques produces marvellous textures, at once ethereal and earthy, ancient and modern. Inevitably, I suppose, it’s the seven-minute arrangement of ‘Besame Mucho’ that keeps drawing me back to the record. There’s something magical about the way Scodanibbio seems to refract the theme, slowly and gently dismantling and reassembling it in a more complex form, like an image seen in mirrors set at different angles, new shades of emotion overlapping as you feel the the tectonic plates of its harmonies shift beneath you. Each freshly revealed facet is tested for weight, light and meaning. It’s something new, and unforgettable. Scodanibbio clearly had a strong feeling for Mexico. He chose to die (like Charles Mingus, another great bassist and composer) in Cuernavaca, and he apparently believed ‘Besame Mucho’ to be the most beautiful song ever written. I wouldn’t argue over that. With this recording he and his players took a lovely thing and made it even lovelier.
Richard Williams, TheBlueMoment.com

...a beguiling sequence of sophisticated, highly imaginative arrangements for string quartet. Three Contrapuncti from Bach’s The Art of Fugue punctuate beautifully quirky transcriptions of Spanish guitar music and Mexican popular song. The Bach realisations are extraordinary. They’re played at glacial tempi, full of eerie harmonics and startling string textures. [...] The transcriptions of more popular material are cut from the same cloth, with slow speeds casting dark shadows and adding Mahlerian gravitas. In the Quattro Pezzi Spagnoli, Scodanibbio makes predictably idiomatic use of pizzicati to mimic guitar sounds. The results are almost painfully bittersweet. The five Canzoniere Messicano feel still more personal – the composer considered the popular song Bésame mucho to be the most beautiful ever written and handles it with a tenderness that’s heartbreaking. You need to listen to the whole disc in sequence. Magnificently played by the Quartetto Prometeo, and richly recorded too.
Graham Rickson, TheArtsDesk.com

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