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July 15 , 2011

Reviews of the Week

Meredith Monk’s “Songs Of Ascension” receives high praise in Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Christoph Wagner writes, “In its purity, the music has an almost sacral character. Like St Francis, Monk, with her ensemble, intones ‘sun songs’ and seems able to communicate with birds and animals in a mysterious language. Although her music has its own clear character it has changed gradually over the last four decades, as fresh ideas are explored, and new components incorporated. So it is on this newest recording, where the strings of the Todd Reynolds Quartet add variety, as does the many-voiced choir which supports the dramatic intensification of the final cresecendo.”

In the August issue of DownBeat, a roster of critics have their say about “Live At Birdland”, with Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. John Corbett: “Mehldau is quixotically brilliant across the board. He’s an instigator, pushing Konitz to find new lines; he’s a supporter, colouring the saxophonist’s surprising offerings on ‘Lover Man’; he’s a font of endless variation, taking ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ through a prismatic set of transformations.” Paul de Barros: “These guys hook up softly and magically. Mehldau’s inner voicings and bell-ringing of the changes are a delight. Konitz pays with more verve than usual; Haden and Motian sculpt lovely colours.” John McDonough: “Konitz radiates a warm, off-centre temperament. Mehldau is a man of many means, none more welcome than the wispy single-note lines that coil quietly around Konitz. Haden solos with a rich syripy undertow.”

The Tarkovsky Quartet (François Couturier, Anja Lechner, Jean-Louis Matinier, Jean-Marc Larché) has received positive notice in far-flung places in the last week - from Austria to New Zealand. In the New Zealand Herald, William Dart writes, “ECM’s Tarkovsky Quartet has French pianist Francois Couturier returning with the third instalment of his musical love affair with the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky’s favoured composer .Eduard Artemyev, often went for startling cultural crossovers, melding the sounds of East and West. The director was also fond of turning to the classical masters, with Bach being a central force in his 1972 ‘Solaris’. All this is reflected in Couturier’s soundscapes, played by a quartet that puts his piano alongside cello, accordion and soprano saxophone. All four are superlative musicians, with the fifth star being producer Manfred Eicher, who provides the luxuriously ambient setting. The album is permeated with echoes of older music. There is nostalgia here, but of the bracing kind.”