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October 25 , 2013

Reviews of the Week

The Los Angeles Times predicts András Schiff’s recording of the Diabelli Variationen will be ‘the standout Beethoven recording of the year’

The two-disc set is a richly nuanced look at late Beethoven (it also includes Beethoven’s last sonata, Opus 111, played on the piano and his Bagatelles, Opus 126, on the historic fortepiano). This is a Beethoven reaching for spiritual heights, conveying hair-pulling emotional drama, envisioning a music of the future of new sounds and complexities and also fooling around like the goofy genius he also was. Schiff, in what is likely to be the standout Beethoven recording of the year, misses nothing.
Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times


The Washington Times on the music of Dobrinka Tabakova as recorded on String Paths

‘String Paths,’ Dobrinka Tabakova’s stunning recording debut: As young composers continue to migrate en masse from the strictures of academic modernism, Dobrinka Tabakova is the latest breath of fresh air in this ongoing aesthetic revolution. While her music has been a regular staple in concert halls across Europe over the past several years, ‘String Paths’ represents her first major commercial release. As is often his way, Manfred Eicher of ECM Records has gifted us a memorable palette of the composer’s sensual sound, resulting in yet another ECM New Series recording to which listeners will return again and again. [...] Tabakova’s ‘String Paths’ is an original and exciting, deeply moving, and triumphant commercial recording debut. What’s more, there is something immediate and personal about her music that will prove the envy of many of her peers. Tabakova may be using the musical materials of tradition, but through them she has broken new paths, while young composers are sure to take notice and be inspired.
Mark Nowakowski, The Washington Times


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung finds the intensity in the interplay of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette on Somewhere overwhelming

In gewissen Partien von ‘Deep Space’, dem Eingangsstück zu ihrer neuesten Veröffentlichung ‘Somewhere’, das auf eine magische Weise mit ‘Solar’ von Miles Davis ein Amalgam bildet, scheint Keith Jarrett auf dem Flügel Wirbel zu erzeugen, und Jack DeJohnette vollführt mit seinen Drumsticks Trillerkombinationen au der Hi-Hat. Gary Peacock spielt ohnehin seinen akustischen Bass häufig so, als kämen die Töne durch das Anreißen von Klaviersaiten im Korpus des Instruments zustande. Überhaupt ist diese Visitenkarte der Einspielung ein Kunstwerk, das alle Vorstellungen zu den Akten legt, die man von der Königsdisziplin Jazztrio bisher hatte und an der sich alle Pianisten einmal in ihrer Karriere versuchen müssen. […] Jazztrios, vor allem in der Besetzung Klavier, Bass, Schlagzeug, sind, wie Streichquartette in der Klassik, Kammermusikensembles, die kein Versteckspiel zulassen, jeden Klang und jede Reaktion offenlegen und die Scharlatane von den Talenten trennen wie ein Dreschflegel die Spreu vom Weizen. Keines, so scheint es, hat je diese überwältigende Intensität des Zusammenspiels, diese Kongruenz der musikalischen Vorstellungen, die Gleichstellung der Partner und den Grad der kompositorisch-improvisatorischen Konsistenz bei gleichzeitiger Individualität der Spieler erreicht wie dieses Trio, das keinen Namen herausstellen möchte und doch den Stempel eines musikalischen Hexenmeisters trägt: Keith Jarrett.
Wolfgang Sandner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


US-website All About Jazz on Shadow Man, the new album by Tim Berne's Snakeoil

New York-based alto saxophonist Tim Berne has long been regarded one of the Downtown scene's most forward-thinking bandleaders. Among his peers, no other artist has so often fostered the creative talent of subsequent generations; multi-instrumentalist Chris Speed, keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Jim Black all spent their formative years playing alongside the veteran saxophonist. Likewise, Berne recently recruited rising multi-instrumentalist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith as members of his latest project, Snakeoil.
Shadow Man is the sophomore follow-up to the multi-generational quartet's critically acclaimed self-titled 2012 ECM debut, signifying the first time the esteemed leader has been signed to a major label since his late 1980's tenure with Columbia Records. [...] Although Berne's interest in free improvisation has been well documented over the past two decades, Snakeoil establishes a welcome return to composing. Eschewing convention, Berne's singularly oblique narratives convey dramatic tension through labyrinthine arrangements that seamlessly juxtapose freewheeling improvisation with intricate formal constraints. Fortified by four years spent touring together, Noriega, Mitchell and Smith interpret the leader's thorny frameworks with bold invention, instilling his coiled themes with youthful fervor.
Troy Collins, All About Jazz


A German reviewer enjoys listening to Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan on Travel Guide

Alle drei sind Kapazitäten ohne Profilierungsnöte. Ihr zweites Album ‚Travel Guide’ wird daher zu einer kammerjazzigen Mischung auf überwiegend gitarristisch akustischer Basis, melodisch feinsinnig, kommunikativ, schwelgend. Es ist eine Verknüpfung der stilistischen Eigenheiten zum gemeinsamen Saitenfest und vor allem: schön zu hören.
Ralf Dombrowski, Audio


A Swiss critic hears higher powers at work on 39 Steps by the John Abercrombie Quartet

Dieses klangmalerisch-subtile und entspannt swingende Quartett scheint von einer höheren Macht gelenkt zu werden: So schwerelos entwickelt sich die Musik.
Tom Gsteiger, St. Galler Tagblatt


Stefano Bollani and Hamilton de Holanda’s O que serà impresses reviewers in Switzerland and the USA

In ihrem beherzten und beflügelten Spiel spielen die Partner genüsslich den Charme eingängiger Melodien aus, um dabei Schmelz und Sentimentalitäten parodistisch zu überhöhen. Das kongeniale Interplay, das sich manchmal wie ein Trio ausnimmt (weil die Hände des Pianisten je eigenen Funktionen übernehmen) strapaziert die Formen mitunter aber auch: Das Duo bricht dann aus i freie Dialoge, in denen sich die musikalische Zweisamkeit über alle Regeln und Genres großartig hinwegsetzt.
Üeli Bernays, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

There seems to be a growing group of totally amazing soloists on instruments which previously were not considered legitimate solo instruments in either classical or jazz: ukelele, banjo, erhu, harmonica and now—with performers like Chris Thiele—the mandolin. Hamilton de Holanda, of Brazil, is the world’s master of the bandolim, a ten-string mandolin. He and his cohort, the Italian jazz pianist Stefano Bollani, have an absolutely amazing empathy, and their enthusiasm for what they are doing is contagious and most exciting. [...]It was a mark of the performers’ confidence in their trust and improvisational chops that they decided to record this album live. They obviously want to maintain a feeling of spontaneity and risk in the recording that must be present in spades at their live performances. And of course Manfred Eicher has preserved the duo in the best possible fidelity.
John Henry, Audiophile Edition