Friday, February 11, 2011

Szilard Mezei - Mint Amikor Tavasz [Not Two]

Mint Amikor Tavasz

Szilard Mezei - viola, double bass

Not Two 2009

While both his recent releases (orchestral double cd "Bot" also on Not Two, quartet lp "February Fadontes" on No Business") are really good, I decided to get back to his solo outing which I feel is something really special.

Szilard Mezei, both as composer and performer, manages to create link between folk melodies and sophisticated avant-jazz or chamber methods and strategies of composition and execution. Here, in a solo setting, his musical vision is displayed as clearly as ever.

In so many cases a solo recording are incredibly difficult to listen to, quite often presenting none any actual music but demonstration of skills. And while there's no lack of virtuosity here, this is not a record just  for other viola/violin players nor an exercise in technique. Between the legato, gentle playing of the "Not / So" that begins the record and sharp and staccato shattered sound of the second track (some of the pieces instead of a title have a simple picture) this promise you a lot of diversity from the beginning and it delivers.
My definite favourite is "Bolondut / Road of Fool", also the longest track of the cd, with its folkish short motif serving as a recurring theme, platform extended through sensitive and imaginative improvisation. The sound of viola is crystal clear, bare, right in front of ears.
"Bolondut kek / Road of Fool Blue" is one of the few pieces played on double bass, deep and magnificient sound of arco and once again with a simple recurring motiv, ending with a great use of extended techniques, surprisingly fitting for the folk atmosphere. In the cycle of picture tracks that follows Szilard plays viola in deconstuctive way of Joe Morris guitar (track 5), pierces the air with light-speed arpeggios and dramatic harmonies of gypsy descendance (track 6) and provides the balance going way low on double bass again , this time without the bow (track 7).
Tracks 8 through 13 (except 8 minutes, double bass track 10) are minitures, all around 2 mins long. Short outbursts of creative flame, from the long frullo (track 8), through passionate wild shrills (track 9 and 11), otherwordly misty, full of air and microtonal distortions sound (track 12) up to somehow combining last two in the track 13. The cd ends with one track apiece on viola, exploring more romantic territory, and the bass, with nice walking technique, somehow a jumpy twist to the melody.

I guess at 70 something minutes overall, this is not exactly an easy listening, still a solo viola album (excluding the four bass tracks) is extremely uncommon (I don't know any other) and as ambitious as it is, it succeds greatly.

On the final note. Happy Birthday to Szilard who was born on the 12th of february.

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