24.03.2023 | Reviews of the week

Reviews of the week

More international acclaim for Sir András Schiff’s new recording of music by J.S. Bach on the Clavichord

 

The close recording in a modestly reverberant acoustic reveals an instrument of considerable expressive range. At its best, Schiff’s playing is exquisitely controlled, as in the Adagiosissimo of the early ‘Capriccio on the departure of his most beloved brother’, and well balanced with infectious humour in the concluding ‘post horn’ Fugue. The mature Inventions and Sinfonias blend insight, as in the elusive, chromatic Sinfonia in F minor, with a beguilingly carefree approach in the more relaxed numbers such as the E major Sinfonia. As impressive is the coherence Schiff brings to the counterpoint in the three-part Ricercar from the Musical Offering, and the Fantasia of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue has a brilliance surpassing many a harpsichord or modern piano performance. […] Schiff’s playing overall is an illuminating and enjoyable guide to Bach at the clavichord.

Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine

 

This is not just a pianist changing medium and still sounding like a pianist […] As with his previous period-instrument ventures, Schiff opens up a new world and thoroughly adjusts his temperament, his ‘pianism’ and his artistry to it. If on the modern piano he brings his Bach to us in all his reflectiveness and majesty, on the clavichord he invites the audience as it were to eavesdrop on Bach himself, as if sitting in the same room , or a ‘quiet oasis’, as Schiff puts it in his notes.

Michelle Assay, Gramophone

 

La sonorité discrète de l’instrument, dont les capacités expressives (quel cantabile dans l’Invention no. 13!) sont exploitées avec art, emplit l’espace avec une présence étonnante, qu’il s’agisse de créer du pittoresque (Capriccio BWV 992) ou de susciter l’emotion (Sinfonia no.9). Les ’Inventions’ et ‘Sinfonies’ dépassent ainsi leur statut d’exercice: le geste unificateur, mûri, de Schiff laisse le sentiment d’une narration continue où chaque pièce ajoute son caractère, sa couleur.

Jean-Christophe Pucek, Diapason (Diapason d’Or)

 

Le pianist hongrois András Schiff opère avec bonheur, un retour aux sources. […] Dessin à la pointe sèche et couleurs aquarellées, pur l’auditeur aussi, c’est une redécouverte, pour peu qu‘il tende l’oreille et le cœur.

MDM, La Libre Belgique

 

Hier bewirken Schiffs sensible Wege, beschritten mit Temperament und Feuer, ein Wunder: In den Miniaturen der Inventionen und Sinfonien, aber auch in der monumentalen Chromatischen Fantasie und Fuge wird die Intimität des lautenartigen Klangbilds zur unermesslichen Fülle, die chromatische Intonation des Instruments zum mikro-intervallischen Abenteuer.

Martin Mezger, Audio (Klangtipp)

Leading UK music magazines on the new recording of works by Bartók, Casken and Beethoven played by Thomas Zehetmair, Ruth Killius and the Royal Northern Sinfonia

 

This well-proportioned programme captures Thomas Zehetmair’s 2014 farewell concert as music director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, with his wife, viola player Ruth Killius, in the Bartók, and a double concerto, ’That Subtle Knot’, written for them by John Casken. The title of Casken’s double concerto, taken from ’The Ecstasy’ by John Donne, is mirrored in the intertwining solo lines, which develop from the spare, modally inflected, folk-like beginning. Much of the music is slow and meditative, interrupted by a few more rhythmic sections, where textures are fuller and more acerbic, but it rises to passionate climaxes, and is given a performance to match. […] The orchestra shows off its own credentials in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which starts at a terrific lick, and is incredibly exciting. […] The Scherzo surprises with its accents and wide range of dynamics, before the release of the finale, controlled, but rushing to a thrilling conclusion.

Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine (Five stars)

 

The Northumbrian composer John Casken wrote ‘That Subtle Knot’ as a sinfonia concertante for Zehetmair and his wife Ruth Killius. The solo lines are long and overlapping, underpinned by tidal pedal-points, and off-kilter tonal harmony that feels gratefully written and satisfyingly new. Zehetmair always wears an aura of intensity around him as a performer, whether with baton or violin in hand, and Casken’s first movement, though marked ‘Calm’, still draws from him edgily committed bowing, even while his tonal range admits less aggressive contrasts of light and shade than before. Perhaps that’s the nature of his musical partnership with Killius, or the demands of tonal matching in a piece where violin and viola continually complete one another’s thoughts. Either way, the thread of conversational intimacy is carried on by their partnership in Bartók’s Viola Concerto. […] Killius shapes the long first movement with a folksy familiarity and a warm, speaking tone, and this recitative-like quality extends through the brief but rapturously sustained Adagio, as though Bartók were returning to his Transylvanian farmstead roots one last time.

Peter Quantrill, The Strad

German and Belgian reactions to the new album Sphere by the Bobo Stenson Trio

 

Hier, mit seinen deutlich jüngeren Landsleuten, stellt sich eine Balance ein, deren unspektakuläre Schlichtheit fasziniert. Drei Künstler weben gleichberechtigt aus vorhandenen Garnen neuartig schimmernde musikalische Stoffe. Einige Stücke basieren auf Ideen von Anders Jormin, andere auf Werken klassischer skandinavischer Komponisten des 20. Jahrhunderts – des Schweden Sven-Erik Bäck, des Dänen Paul Nørgard, des Norwegers Alfred Janson und des Finnen Jean Sibelius. Das ist aber nur das Material. Das Wesentliche vollzieht sich im Spiel, und die Suche genügt sich weitgehend selbst. Allen, die sich darauf einlassen, bietet die klangschöne Aufnahme feinsten Hörgenuss.

Jens-Uwe Sommerschuh, Sächsische Zeitung

 

Une nouvelle fois,on se régale du fin toucher de Bobo Stenson et de l’interplay qu‘il amis en place depuis des années avec ses fidèles partenaires. Un jalon de plus dans une carrière dédiée à la beauté.

Jean-Pierre Goffin, Jazz Halo

The solo album At First Light by Ralph Towner impresses reviewers in Germany

 

 

Einzelne Stücke dieses Albums einer Richtung zuzuordnen, ist unmöglich. Wohl aber fasziniert bei den elf Titeln, mit welch enormer Fantasie er die einzelnen Themen ausgestaltet, wie er ihnen Strahlkraft und Fülle verleiht, wie er das soeben Gespielte durch neue Variationen oder andere Themen ablöst, wie er vom Fortissimo ins Pianissimo fällt und die Klangmöglichkeiten ausreizt. Herrlich.

Werner Stiefele, Audio (Jazz-Highlight)

 

Alles wirkt wie aus einer unerschöpflichen Quelle ganz natürlich hervorsprudelnd. Gerade das Titelstück zeigt, wie lässig Towner sich alles aneignet, von Renaissance bis klassische Moderne und Jazz […] man kann seinen beiläufigen und doch blühenden Ton auf Nylonsaiten kaum trennen von der legendären und einzigartigen Klangästhetik des Labels. Towners hochkomplexe, aber vollkommen eingängige Leichtigkeit ist jedenfalls unerreicht, seine Musik noch immer ein Rausch aus exquisitester Stille – wie eben das allererste Licht.

Michael Lohr, Akustikgitarre

A Belgian reviewer is impressed by the new album It’s Always Now by the Ralph Alessi Quartet

 

Le trompettiste américain Ralph Alessi sort un magnifique album, tout en finesse, en retenue, en fragilité […] Dès les premières notes du premier morceau, ‘Hypnagogic’, on est pris, hypnotisé est le mot adéquat. La trompette est intime, délicate, fragile. Le piano tisse sa toile ajourée en support. C’est ciselé, c’est de la dentelle. On est dans un rêve, on ferme les yeux, on a le temps. Il n’y a pas d’urgence dans cette musique calme, mélancolique, nostalgique, sauf celle de la communication,  sauf le besoin de nous raconter de belles histoires qui mêlent la vulnérabilité et la force. […] Il y a de la beauté dans cet album, un peu d’inquiétude aussi sans doute, de la tension, de la respiration. Et la trompette de Ralph Alessi est une conteuse fascinante, pleine de grâce et d’élégance […] Ralph Alessi est un poète de la trompette.

Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir

A German daily on the album Stravaganze Consonanti by Gianluigi Trovesi and Stefano Montanari

 

Gemeinsam mit dem Barock-und Renaissance-Experten Stefano Montanari als Konzertmeister und erstem Geiger hat er 15 Stücke aus Eigenkompositionen und Anverwandlungen eingespielt. Das kleine Orchester aus Streichern, zwei Oboen, Fagott, Laute, Perkussion, Blockflöte und Cembalo wird gelegentlich durch logisch klingende Electronics-Exkursionen unterbrochen und klingt so frisch und spielfreudig, als könne es gar nicht anders sein. […] Das ergibt ein als ‘Extravaganz der Konsonanten’ übersetzbares,schwereloses Programm als Brückenschlag über die Zeiten – und neben der ‘Reinheitsnorm’. […] In vielen Facetten schillert das, eins geht aus dem anderen hervor in universeller Kommunikation. Alte Klangfarben und neue Spieltechniken kommunizieren wie selbstverständlich miteinander in dieser Musik.

Ulrich Steinmetzger, Freie Presse

A Short Diary by Sebastian Rochford with Kit Downes is reviewed in Belgium

 

Les huit pièces du album sont introspectives, poétiques et d’une lisibilité totale. […] Les chansons sont douces et merveilleusement écrites, privilégiant le toucher du pianist à un jeu de batterie discret où les balais prennent le dessus. […] un disque sensible et plein de tendresse pour celui auquel il est dédié.

Jean-Pierre Goffin, Jazz Mania

A UK reaction to the album Drifting by Mette Henriette

 

There are numerous short tracks – 15 alone – on this set, all composed by Henriette, with some lasting barely a minute. Yet their brevity connects them, with hesitant pulses and similar melodic themes appearing on several tracks, while others share sweeping piano arpeggios and urgent dynamic waves. Conversely, the title track and others deliver a rich palette of timbres within unrepetitive structures. Yet while individual tracks capture the imagination, it is the overall effect that counts the most, the feel of a subtle, intense interaction within the trio that makes for note-perfect musical conversations. […] It’s often dangerous to over-praise a set, but in its quiet, understated way, I would call this album faultless. Modern chamber music at its finest.

Simon Adams, Jazz Journal

UK reactions to the album Pasado en claro by  Anders Jormin with Lena Willemark, Karin Nakagawa and Jon Fält

 

Here he heads a quartet that deploys his bass variously alongside violin, viola, voice, koto, drums and percussion to arrive at a species of folk-jazz that sounds like traditional music from an alternate timeline; imagine a most unlikely set of countries including Japan, Italy and Mexico all sharing borders somewhere in central Europe and producing the kind of music that might result. Uncluttered, mythopoeic and fascinating.

Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine (Five stars)

 

In the best of improvised playing what is left on record is the whisp of the ideas that float from each player before wrapping around the next idea. For this to work, there needs to be a democracy in which no voice dominates but where each voice follows the same logic of the unfolding conversation. Sometimes this logic appears to come from the words Willemark sings or from the emotions that she conveys in her melody or phrasing, sometimes it is from an emotional response in one or other of the players to the singing. The players find common musical language that shifts effortlessly across continents into a mysterious, almost telepathic communion on which the listener is invited to eavesdrop.

Chris Baber, Jazz Views

UK reviewers are enchanted by the album Thunder by Stephan Micus

 

A work of epiphany inducing insight and swirling epic power. Fascinating stuff.

Jane Cornwell, Jazzwise

 

On this album, pride of place is taken by the dung chen – a 4-metre long trumpet used in Tibet which produces a resonant bass tone in traditional ceremonial music. Indeed, a problem he had was to find someone willing to share the secret of playing this instrument as he is likely the first non-Tibetan to record himself playing it. On this set, it provides rich and thunderous foundation to several of the tunes. Each tune is dedicated to a god of thunder from Tibet, India, Burma, Borneo, Siberia, Japan, South America, Gambia, Namibia, Sweden or Bavaria. […] As with every Micus recording, the stories through which he acquired and learned to play each instrument, together with musical contexts and the instruments are the starting point for his fertile imagination and experimentation in mixing and matching sounds and textures.

Chris Baber, Jazz Views

Current Concerts
& Events

Dominic Miller is playing almost 50 concerts across the globe in the cominig months

John Scofield and his trio are performing in the US and Asia in April and June. Throughout the year, more solo and quartet concerts are scheduled.

Fred Hersch is touring in support of his piano solo album 'Silent, Listening'