A few of my favourite stringsJune 24, 2007
Down the years Mark Wastell, proprietor of the world’s greatest record shop Sound323 has made a lot of CD recommendations to me. I go to bed with the words “Oh that one is essential, trust me” (You’ll have to imagine your own Essex boy accent haunting my sleep, but if I am honest he very rarely gets it wrong, having learnt my taste down the years almost better than I have. Last year he pointed me towrds A catalogue of sounds the Jakob Ullmann disc on Editions RZ, a release by a composer I had never heard of when I made the purchase but one that turned out to be amongst my very favourites of 2006.
On Wednesday I stuck my head around the door of the shop briefly as I was in town, and whilst I was scouring shelves to find something of interest I was pointed to a disc by Mark that has again proved to be a great little find. Six Duos by Stefano Scodanibbio. Scodanibbio is a well respected contrabass player (contrabassist?) that worked with Luigi Nono a lot, with Nono thinking enough of him to dedicate a composition in his name.
On Six Duos Scodanibbio is the composer as well as playing on three of the tracks. The pieces are performed by Irvine Arditti (violin), Dov Scheindlin (Viola), and Rohan de Saram (Cello) in all six of the possible duo formations. Scodanibbio’s composition on these pieces investigates extreme harmonics, testing the muscians and their instruments to the limit in search of finite sounds. The technical stuff is of little interest to me howver. as I like this disc simply because of the way it sounds, the sparklingly bright playing and the playful intertwining of the two instruments. The harmonic elements make for an intruiging listen however. Every so often sounds appear that don’t resemble the instruments themselves, the second piece, Escondido for violin and cello in particular begins with a series of high pitched whistles and wails that twist around each other to produce further sounds again. The fifth, Jardins d’Hamilcar for volin and contrabass heaves from sullen bass dwindling into thrashy violin parts and back again with exuberant ease. The best description I can think of for Six Duos is exciting music as it is brim full of colour and energy. This is one CD I think I would struggle to put on and be miserable to, uplifting stuff, thanks Mark.
As my classical investigations continue, another purchase I made this week was a further disc by Dmitri Shostakovich, a split disc of his Sonata for Violin and Sonata for Viola, both rearranged in versions for soloist with string orchestra. I bough this disc because the violin sonata is performed by Gidon Kremer, a musician I have really enjoyed on the previous discs I have purchased of his playing. the Kremer recital is very nice, but I actually found myself taken more by the Viola Sonata, played by Yuri Bashmet, which is a deeply moving, mournful piece, the last movement of which seemed to turn the air cold here as it drifted to its beautiful conclusion… OK, so thats me being melodramatic on a rainy Sunday afternoon, but it sounded good anyway!