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About ECM
February 1 , 2007

ECM at MIDEM: Awards, a conference and a spectacular Jazz Night

The 41st edition of MIDEM, the world’s largest music trade fair, which closed January 25 in Cannes, France, was a notable event for ECM. The Munich-based imprint for jazz and classical music was awarded “Label of the Year” by an international jury composed of leading editors of classical music magazines and radio stations. ECM producer and founder Manfred Eicher, who received the prize during the Classical awards ceremony, expressed his gratitude in a short speech quoting a Japanese Haiku. The prize in the category “Best recording in Contemporary Music” went to soprano Juliane Banse and violinist András Keller for their interpretation of György Kurtág’s song cycle “Kafka-Fragmente” (ECM New Series 1965). András Keller picked up the award and came to Cannes in the company of his long-standing musical partner János Pilz to perform a selection of Bartók’s famous 44 violin duos (ECM New Series 1729) interspersed with two short pieces by György Ligeti and a new composition by György Kurtág which was written especially for the occasion. The Hungarians’ refined and sensitive music-making proved a highlight in a three-hour programme filled with exquisite music.

Earlier that day the conversation between Manfred Eicher and journalist Wolfgang Sandner, editor with the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, was the opening keynote conference of the International Independent Label Summit. The large and enthusiastic audience ardently followed Eicher’s comments on artistic independence in a market of increasing competitiveness.

A special ECM jazz night was held on January 24 with two contrasting but equally ravishing concerts in an overflowing hall in Cannes’ famous Majestic hotel. Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia, the Italian clarinet-accordion-duo, could be heard in a both witty and elegiac programme composed of melodies by Kurt Weill and north-Italian folklore material. Subsequently, Manu Katché’s new line-up of the “Neighbourhood” quintet gave its public debut with new compositions which had been recorded for ECM in New York earlier in January. While Manu’s music has kept its melodic friendliness, the drummer and his two Polish colleagues Marcin Wasilewski and Slawomir Kurkiewicz now offer an even denser rhythmic interaction – throbbing with funky energy, but almost telepathic in its suppleness and precision. The new wind players, saxophonist Trygve Seim and fellow-Norwegian trumpet player Mathias Eick, delivered a series of spectacular solos that completely gave lie to the fact that this material was actually given its very first live performance here...