Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ab Baars & Ig Henneman Duo - Autumn Songs [Wig]

Ab Baars - tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi
Ig Henneman - viola

Stichting Wig 2013

I've featured on the blog previously two releases by Ig Henneman's sextet ("Cut a Caper"  and "Live @ The Ironworks Vancouver") both great albums with crossing the boundaries between free improvisation and modern chamber music, delivered by a stellar sextet, exploring valiantly the sonoristic and arrangement possibilites of such a group. "Autumn Songs" is played in much more intimate duo setting and it's content is somehow given away by the apt title and the very pretty cover.
"Autumn Songs" is a collection of improvised or, as the liner notes say "minimally composed" pieces inspired by autumn poetry (including poems by Rilke, Blake, Yeats, Appollinaire and others). A sort of a modern chamber music, nimalistic
Autumn may be a metaphore of passing away, but such can occur in a plenty of ways, be it peaceful or tormented.  The music may be filled with sorrow (soft, suspended tones of "The Clouds Go", inspired b Stevens' The Death of the Soldier) but hope and passion for life as well ("Autumn in Maine" with the sparkling harmonies comes to mind). Peacefull and mourning at times ("Winter comes to hush her Song" with the soft shakuchachi breeze) or frenetically dramatic (shredding viola and screaming saxophone in turmoil in "It bends it sways").

The duo's plaiying has a focus on colour, relation, emotion, dialogue. Subtle and understated, this a music for those who appreciate silence. For those who belive less can be more. Last but not least, for those who love the sound viola, crystal, so human voice-like. Ig Henneman once again pours her soul into the instrument and Ab Baars is a worthy companion for the trip, of which my favourite example is "The Heavy Cargo" in which the viola sears through air, the space being organized by the softly repeated phrase on the clarinet.
"Autumn Songs" is music made suited the long evenings, possibly with a fireplace on and a glass of * in hand. Sound to be sipped patiently.

*whatever's you preference. I'd go with a strong ale, possibly a barley wine.

To Autumn (William Blake; from Poetical Sketches,1783)

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

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