Travelogue 2017.06.17: A Spring Quartet

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

A brief survey of an exquisite quartet of modern classical albums for the Spring season by Christoph Berg & Henning Schmiedt on Flau, Tambour on Moderna Records, Julian Marchal on the newly launched Whales Records, and Moinho on 1631 Recordings. 

Christoph Berg & Henning Schmiedt – Bei [Flau]

Improvisational prowess and musical telepathy between two friends who have each mastered their respective instruments are the hallmarks of Bei, a collection of duets by violinist Christoph Berg (aka Field Rotation) and pianist/composer/producer Henning Schmiedt. The album is warm and lively, even playful at times, as the pair make fusing post-classical elegance, folkish melodies, and sprightly jazz elements into a fluid, organic whole seem effortless. The joy and creative spark of their interplay is transparent throughout. Fans of Berg’s more introspective solo & collaborative work may be surprised at the sheer brio of his performance here while Schmiedt’s fingers veritably dance over the keyboard with unrelenting inventiveness. To set it all off, Tokyo-based Flau label has packaged the album with some lovely artwork and a striking clear vinyl edition. CD & digital options are also available.


Tambour – Chapitres [Moderna Records]


In conjunction with Record Store Day 2017, Moderna Records released this selection of tracks from the Chapitre I & II EPs by Tambour (aka Simon P. Castonguay) in a single vinyl edition with beautiful new artwork by Marie-Pier Meilleur. After listening to it all the way through, it seems this music was always meant to go together and these gorgeous compositions certainly deserve to be enjoyed in a format that can be held in the hands. Dampened piano and an expressive string quartet intertwine with a gossamer electronic fabric to create a waltzing kaleidoscope of whimsical, melancholic narratives with added flourish from clarinet and French horn on the closing tracks. A perfect entry point for those not yet familiar with Tambour’s music and a very nicely repackaged collectible item for those that already are.


Julien Marchal – Insight III [Whales Records]

French pianist/composer Julien Marchal recently released the third album in his beloved ‘Insight’ series and this one inaugurates the launch of a brand new label of his own called Whales Records. Once again, Marchal treats us to another impeccable performed collection of solo piano compositions delicately poised between the introspective and the gently cinematic. Always lyrical and often melancholic, this is romanticism in the purest sense – music for dreamers and slow travelers that is sweetly melodic with just the right touch of sentimentality. One can’t help but imagine driving through the French countryside or roaming the streets of Paris to this lovely set of tunes while keen-eared classical music fans will no doubt pick up on a wealth of stylistic references to some of the great piano composers. Insight III can be ordered on CD, black vinyl, and all digital formats.


Moinho – Elastikanimal [1631 Recordings]

Elastikanimal is the second full-length album by Moniho, a project from composer & pianist Franck Marquehosse, and his first since Baltika was released by Arbouse Recordings nearly five years ago. His devotion to the eloquent minimalism of Satie remains, but Marquehosse also adds expansiveness to some of these compositions with moving and dramatic string passages on songs like “Josef”, “Les Lointains”, and “Cairn” as well as ambling playfulness on pieces like “Le Chien Jaune” and the inventive title track with its clockwork-like percussion and interlocking marimba patterns. The quality of the recording is exceptional and the arrangements are superb making it a wonderful listen from start to finish making and a truly worthy addition to the burgeoning 1631 Recordings catalog. Elastikanimal is currently available as a digital release only.



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