Ruins and Remains

Wolfert Brederode, Matangi Quartet, Joost Lijbaart

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Ruins and Remains, a suite for piano, string quartet and percussion, was composed by Wolfert Breferode in 2018, to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Over time, however, it has come to embody meanings broader and more personal, with wide-ranging resonances. “At a number of levels, the piece has to do with grief and loss and learning to stand up again,” Dutch pianist Brederode says. There is a vulnerable but resilient quality to the music, as it hovers over its emotional terrain, with moods both bleak and guardedly hopeful. Highly sensitive playing by Brederode, percussionist Joost Lijbaart and the Matangi Quartet (increasingly regarded as one of Holland’s most adventurous string quartets), distinguish a special album recorded in Bremen’s Sendesaal in August 2021 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
Ruins and Remains, eine Suite für Klavier, Streichquartett und Schlagzeug, wurde 2018 von Wolfert Brederode zum 100. Jahrestag des Endes des Ersten Weltkriegs komponiert. Seitdem hat die Suite jedoch eine umfassendere und persönlichere Bedeutung angenommen, mit weitreichenden Konnotationen. "Auf mehreren Ebenen hat das Stück mit Trauer und Verlust zu tun und mit dem Lernen, wieder aufzustehen", erklärt der niederländische Pianist. Die Musik hat eine verletzliche und zugleich widerstandsfähige Qualität, mit Stimmungen, die sowohl düster als auch vorsichtig hoffnungsvoll sind. Das Album ist von dem hochsensiblen Zusammenspiel zwischen Brederode, dem Schlagzeuger Joost Lijbaart und dem Matangi Quartett (das zunehmend als eines der spannendsten Streichquartette der Niederlande gilt) geprägt und wurde im August 2021 im Bremer Sendesaal aufgenommen und von Manfred Eicher produziert.
Featured Artists Recorded

August 2021, Sendesaal Bremen

Original Release Date

23.09.2022

  • 1Ruins I
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    03:02
  • 2Swallow
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    03:35
  • 3Remains
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    01:46
  • 4Cloudless
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    05:29
  • 5Ruins and Remains
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    05:00
  • 6Ka
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    03:31
  • 7Ruins II
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    05:14
  • 8Duhra
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    03:22
  • 9Ruins III
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    02:00
  • 10Retrouvailles
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    01:49
  • 11Nothing for granted
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    05:17
  • 12Dissolve
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    02:57
  • 13March
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    01:14
  • 14Ruins IV
    (Wolfert Brederode)
    03:24
‘Ruins and Remains’, the latest brainchild of Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode, was intended to commemorate the end of World War I, at its time the most significant war in history in terms of the devastation it wrought. Sadly, it’s as relevant in the early twenty-first century as it is in the twentieth. Backed by stringsmiths Matangi Quartet and drummer Joost Lijbaart, Brederode produces a beautifully textured multi-part piece that blends melancholy with resolve. The strings enhance the pianist’s melodies without pushing them into lush territory – squeaks and drones flavor the lines as much as expertly executed legato and vibrato. Lijbaart stays subtle, giving the songs a kick when needed, but mostly delivering accents and a quiet heartbeat. Brederode himself never goes for ostentatious displays of overwrought technique, allowing the strings to pull the ear and focusing on gently propelling the tunes forward. ‘Duhra,’ ‘Cloudless’ and the multi-part ‘Ruins’ obscure the line between jazz and classical music, composition and performance, arrangement and improvisation, as if aurally representing the way life’s best-laid plans never quite unfold as one might expect – and the advantages of that cycle.
Michael Toland, The Big Takeover
 
As if a clock is ticking towards ignition the sombre ‘Ruins II’ is a sobering beginning and on ‘Ruins IV’ ending to this – Dutch pianist composer Wolfert Brederode’s new First World War inspired album. A string quartet and percussion in tow Brederode is with percussionist Joost Lijbaart and the Matangi Quartet. […] There is such a developmental discipline throughout built up from the rustle of Lijbaart’s brushes and carried by the hovering of strings. Dazzling pianism framed inside a transcendental dream consciousness, war in Europe whether 20th century global conflict or perilously now in Ukraine is in the mind’s eye inevitably as we listen […] Away from the main ‘Ruins’ suite there is plenty of interest so ‘Nothing for Granted’ while doleful in its martial beat has a luminous quality to it and that lustre is a characteristic so evident throughout. Flickering flames sketch the horror of war and serve as a warning to us all through the humanity of this moving vision as conscience and – to extrapolate further given such unease – soothsayer.
Stephen Graham, Marlbank
 
In seiner Musik geht es um Licht und Schatten, Aufbruch und Fragilität. Tiefen und Höhen sind in der Musik fließend ineinander verwoben, die Musik atmet.
Kristina Dumas, Bayerischer Rundfunk
 
‘Ruins and Remains’ possède un intense pouvoir d’introspection et d’expression, un riche palette d’émotions, trouvant une coherence stylistique.
Vincent Cotro, Jazz Magazine
 
Conceived and written as a piece for piano, string quartet and percussion the music, through numerous concert performances, taken on a life and personality of its own that is far removed from the composer/pianist’s initial concept. From being a piece to commemorate a dark period in European history, the music now takes on a broader outlook encompassing not just grief and loss but the indefatigable spirit of people across the globe, and an air of optimism and light permeates throughout. ‘Ruins and Remains’ is therefore very much an ‘evolving suite’. The beauty lies within the blending of the instruments along with their role within the music that rather than being predetermined is allowed the freedom to be in the moment. The demarcation between improvised and scored parts is in a constant state of flux, that becomes meaningless as the sonic pallete seemingly driven by the string quartet creates a soundscape for Brederode and Lijbaart to work their sounds and textures within. The music exhibits a quiet beauty as the musicians traverse between written passages and improvised textures that are subject to change within any given moment.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
 
Es ist eine Musik, die mal rätselhaft verschattet, mal zart aufblühend klingt – mit feinen, ganz hoch pfeifenden Streichertönen, die sich zuweilen mosaikhaft zusammensetzen, lyrisch-sensiblen Klavierparts und leise den Raum öffnenden Schlagzeug- und Percussion-Akzenten. Auf ungewöhnliche Art schön ist diese Musik, die immer wieder zu berückenden Melodien findet. Um ‘Trauer, Verlust und das Lernen, wieder aufzustehen’ geht es laut dem Komponisten in dieser Suite, die durch die aktuellen Ereignisse beklemmende Aktualität erfährt.
Roland Spiegel, Bayerischer Rundfunk
 
Im Zusammenspiel mit dem Matangi-Quartett und dem Perkussionisten Joost Lijbaart schuf Brederode eine ungemein suggestive Atmosphäre, in der Figuren, die aus der Minimal Music bekannt sind, mit Methoden des Jazz neue Kontur erlangen. […] Auch klanglich ein faszinierendes Album.
Jens-Uwe Sommerschuh, Sächsische Zeitung
 
Resilienz sei der Schlüsselbegriff, erklärt Brederode. Tatsächlich tritt in seiner Suite vielfach, etwa dem kantablen ‘Swallow’ oder dem schwebenden ‘Cloudless’, das Tröstende vor das Schmerzliche. Selbst die vier Variationen von ‘Ruins’ beruhen auf einer zwar melancholischen, so doch tonalen Figur. […] Die Musik ist vielfach zurückgenommen, in Teilen minimalistisch, stets jedoch kammermusikalisch konzentriert, das Augenmerk der Produktion liegt auf einem intimen Interplay, das die Verschmelzung der Klangfarben in feinstofflich-mikrotonaler Konsonanz ansteuert. Ein ausgesprochen würdiges Requiem auf das Ende vom Anfang des Endes – und mitten in der Finsternis die Dimanaten ‘Ka’ und ‘Duhra’.
Harry Schmidt, Jazzthetik
 
The suite has come to assume great personal significance, says Brederode, because of its handling of the themes of grief, loss and renewal. Given the gravity of the subject matter few would expect anything other than a profoundly reflective piece, but for Brederode that’s comme d’habitude. Despite Brederode regarding this as an unfinished or evolving piece, it has an effortlessly natural flow. The more abstract and textural pieces such as the four Ruins and Dissolve particularly stand out, though it’s hard not to be affected by the haunting title track or the tender moves of Nothing For Granted. Moods range from the somewhat optimistic (‘Swallows’) to the utterly desolate (‘Remains’), and although some pieces carry a stronger rhythmic impetus than others (‘Clouds’), the ensemble’s dynamic range and sonic balance is remarkably even. […] ‘Ruins And Remains’ is a poignantly beautiful piece of work.
Fred Grand, Jazz Journal
 
Eine strenge, präzise, nüchtern-funktionale und auf das Wesentliche beschänkte Ästhetik spricht aus dieser thematisch wie stilistisch aktuellen Musik, verletzliche, dunkle, Einsamkeit verratende – und trotzdem nicht hoffnungslose Stimmungen. […] Matangi erweist sich hier, wo Improvisation und Partitur verschmelzen, als ebenso ideal wie der Drummer Joost Lijbaart, der Brederode seit 2004 genreübergreifend begleitet.
Steff Rohrbach, Jazz’n’more
For his fourth ECM release as a leader, following the acclaimed quartet albums Currents and Post-Scriptum as well as the trio record Black Ice, Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode introduces a very different, and very special, project. Ruins and Remains is a suite for piano, string quartet and percussion. Originally composed by Brederode in response to a commission for music to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the piece was premiered in November 2018. In the interim, however, it has come to embody meanings broader and more personal. “At a number of levels, the music has to do with grief and loss and learning to stand up again,” Brederode says. There is a vulnerable but resilient quality to the music, as it hovers over its emotional terrain, with moods alternately bleak and guardedly hopeful.
 
The musicians involved in the project have been friends since student days at The Hague’s Royal Conservatory. The Matangi Quartet, who have collaborated often with Wolfert Brederode in performances of his music for theatre, have meanwhile acquired a reputation as one of Holland’s most versatile string quartets, with a repertoire spanning baroque music, contemporary composition, jazz and more. (Lately they’ve been getting attention for their recordings of Schnittke, Silvestrov and Shostakovich.) Back in 2014, the Matangi Quartet included music by Brederode on one of their own albums, alongside pieces by Louis Andriessen and Chick Corea. As the Ruins and Remains project has progressed, the Matangi players have found increasing freedom inside it, also participating actively in its improvised sections.
 
Drummer Joost Lijbaart has worked across genres with Brederode since 2004 –playing jazz with Yuri Honing, and working in an improvising duo which strove to subsume individual identities in a single sound, “as if playing prepared piano together”, rather than percussion and piano duets. This sensibility finds an echo in the approach taken in Ruins and Remains.
 
“My goal is always for the music to be one thing,” says Wolfert Brederode. “I love to dive into the sound of the string quartet, and play as if part of that. I think with the quartet and with Joost we’ve found a special sound together which, in its way, is quietly radical.” Ruins and Remains has been mutating since its first performance. The idea of change is built into it: “Calling it ‘an evolving suite’ gave me the liberty to change pieces and add pieces as we went along.”
 
The process was accelerated during the session at Bremen’s Sendesaal.  Violinist Maria-Paula Majoor notes that “the sound in the hall gives you the room to find the poetry behind the notes,” adding that Ruins and Remains had begun its life as an outgoing and rhythmical jazz piece and been transformed in the recording process into something else. We changed the soul of the music.”
 
In the collaborative work with producer Manfred Eicher, “new directions were opened up in the suite,” says Brederode. Transitions between written and improvised material became blurred:  “We all focused on the blending of sounds and worked very much on dynamics.”
 
The result is a touching album of great subtlety, both texturally exploratory and deeply lyrical.
 
Wolfert Brederode, Joost Lijbaart and the Matangi Quartet play the music of Ruins and Remains at the Bremen Sendesaal on September 2, followed by a series of concerts in the Netherlands: Verkadefabriek, Den Bosch (September 24),  Bimhuis, Amsterdam (October 15),  Theater Lindenberg, Nijmegen (October 26), Theater ‘t Hof, Arnhem (October 26), Theater Junushoff, Wageningen (November 18), Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht (November 20), Paradox,Tilburg  (November 25), Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam (December 3), Porgy & Bess, Terneuzen (December
 
More information:
 
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 March 06 Apples & Olives Festival Zurich, Switzerland
2024 March 07 Unterfahrt Munich, Germany
2024 March 10 Jazz in Feerwerd Feerwerd, Netherlands
2024 March 12 Birds Eye Basel, Switzerland
2024 March 13 Birds Eye Basel, Switzerland
2024 March 14 JazzArtFestival - Hospitalkirche Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
2024 March 30 Rentmeester Valthermond, Netherlands
2024 April 13 Sound of Europe Festival Breda, Netherlands
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