INTAKT RECORDS – CD-REVIEWS

ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH - AKI TAKASE. IRON WEDDING
Intakt CD 160

 

 

Fünfzehn Jahre nach Piano Duets - Live in Berlin 93/94 (FMP) war ein musikalisches Tête-à-tête des Pianistenpaares AKI TAKASE - ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH überfällig. Iron Wedding (Intakt CD 160) meint jetzt keine 65 Jahre, sondern spielt wohl auf alle mit Handschellen aneinander gefesselten Pärchen der Filmgeschichte an und vielleicht auch auf die Manschetten, mit denen die beiden manchmal Piano für 4 Hände spielen. Ähnlich eisern halten die beiden einer Vorstellung von Kreativität die Treue, die den Schubladen Jazz, Improvisierte oder Neue Musik spottet. Hier sind 'Twelve Tone Tales‘ und 'Passacaglia 1, 2, 3‘, bei denen Schönberg und B.A. Zimmermann durchschimmern, keine fremden Bettgenossen neben den New Things aus New York, London, Antwerpen oder Berlin. Wer die Musik von Takase und Schlippenbach im Ohr hat, solo oder in kleineren Besetzungen - sie etwa im Duo mit Silke Eberhard, ihn im Trio mit Parker & Lovens oder mit Monk‘s Casino - , besser noch, wer diese Klangwelten live im Sinn hat, den wird hier kaum etwas wirklich überraschen, außer der gemeinsamen Fähigkeit, nicht nachzulassen, was markante Erfindungen und intensive, kluge Interaktionen angeht. Der Beginn, 'Early Light‘ ist fast impressionistisch, Sonnenaufgang à la Monet und Debussy, mit 'Dwarn‘s Late Night‘ als sternfunkelndem Gegenstück. Schon 'Circuit‘ steht dann unter Strom, als gehämmerter Futurismus, während 'Steinblock‘ lautmalerisch im Steinbruch klopft und dabei an den Auftaktriff des Sacre du printemps erinnert, dessen archaischer tänzerischer Duktus in 'Yui‘s Dance‘ modern und sprunghaft wiederkehrt. Die 'Suite in Five Parts‘ stellt sich zu Webern, um gemeinsam eine letzte Zigarette zu rauchen und den Vögeln für Morgen eine Handvoll Körner zu streuen. 'Gold Inside‘ meint keine Nuggets, sondern das Innenklavier als Schatztruhe, während 'Eight‘ barocke Motorik ans Tempolimit treibt. Bei 'Zankapfel‘ bringt einer der beiden eine Celesta ins Spiel, eine vielleicht nicht diskordianische, aber pfiffige Strategie. Die Aleatorik von 'Thown In‘, die auch ‚Off Hand‘ durchtröpfelt, bekommt bei 'Rain‘ ihren wahren Namen. Das Titelstück, nach der 'Suite‘ der zweitlängste Track, macht dann gut hörbar, dass Paare ganz anders als Alleingänge funktionieren. Mögen die Partner noch so sperrig und eigen sein, hier verstärken und verbinden sich ihre Persönlichkeiten in inniger Empathie, die immer auch eine Technik ist, ein Know-how.
Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy, Deutschland, 61/2009

 


Aki Takase / Alexander Von Schlippenbach «Iron Wedding»
Mesterlig tospann
Da Alexander Von Schlippenbach feiret 70-årsdagen sin i Berlin i fjor høst, ble hans stilling som europeisk jazzikon tydeliggjort. Med Globe Unity Orchestra og Schlippenbach Trio på samme scene fikk publikum oppleve den tyske pianistens historiske betydning og hans evne til å vitalisere improens aldrende form.
På Iron Wedding møter Schlippenbach den japanske berliner Aki Takase, og som tittelen antyder, skjer ikke det for første gang. Begge utøvere liker å bevege seg mellom post-bop og fritt vokabular.
De er begge svake for Thelonious Monk og lar gjerne Fats Waller møte Anton Webern mellom tangentene.
Lang erfaring
På dette albumet har Takase og Schlippenbach komponert alt selv, og samspillet byr både på nerve og modenhet. Det er den varierte anvendelsen av form som nærer lytteopplevelsen.
Grove og tunge akkorder kontrasteres av fjærlett gjerrighet, uten at inntrykket oppstykkes. Den organiske kvaliteten virker nærmest selvfølgelig, men den har livslang erfaring som sin forutsetning.
På «Gold Inside» spiller de på innsiden av pianoet, og på «Thown In» fører de en dialog som utvisker stilistiske forskjeller. Iron Wedding er et balansert album der de to utøverne griper tak i sin egen historie og skaper et nytt alvor og en ny energi det er godt å trekkes inn i.
ARILD R. ANDERSEN, Aftenposen, Norway, 07.01.09

 

 

 

Sammen for musikken
De to grensesprengende pianistene Aki Takase og Alexander von Schlippenbach er nær hverandre på de fleste plan.

Iron Wedding, eller jernbryllup på norsk, betyr at et par har vært gift i 70 år. Siden von Schlippenbach er den eldste av de to med sine 70 år, så har nok ikke de to vært gift så lenge. Japansk-fødte Takase har runda 60 år og de to har tilbragt mange år sammen i Berlin og i et svært så kreativt miljø der mye av den europeiske frijazzen har blitt unnfanga. Begge de to har vært viktige i unnfangelsen.
Det er 40 år siden von Schlippenbach danna det stilskapende bandet Globe Unity Orchestra – et band som lever i beste velgående den dag i dag. Både med det bandet og i en rekke andre konstellasjoner har tyskeren vært en grensesprenger.
Aki Takase blei vi først oppmerksom på her hjemme under en Molde-festival for noen tiår siden da hun dukka opp sammen med den portugisiske vokalsensasjonen Maria João og den danske mesterbassisten Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. Hvilken åpenbaring det var!
Her har de to funnet sammen for første gang – som pianoduo, må vite – på nesten 15 år. «Piano Duets – Live in Berlin 93/94» var parets første utgivelse og at den musikalske kjemien fortsatt er noe voldsomt tilstede er «Iron Wedding» et glitrende eksempel på.
17 felles «komposisjoner» står på menyen og det er dynamisk frijazz der lytting er en helt avgjørende faktor. Her er det elementer av klassisk musikk og av samtidsmusikk og til sammen skaper de to samtaler som bare de to kan gjøre det. Vi snakker om unike samtaler som aldri vil bli gjentatt og som det derfor er spesielt viktig å låne øre til.
Aki Takase og Alexander von Schlippenbach har vært med helt der fremme siden slutten av 60-tallet. De er fortsatt med blant de aller viktigste også når vi skriver 2009.
Tor Hammerø, Side 2, Norway, 13. Januar 2009

 

 

If there was ever anything predictable about these two pianists coming together on record, the results are anything but. Alexander von Schlippenbach is the senior figure by some decades, but this is still such a meeting of minds that the difference of time pales into insignificance. This is their first meeting on record in fifteen years. Time passing has honed their dialectic, rendering it the product of evolving sensibilities.
That's clear enough on the ten minutes of "Suite In Five Parts." The duo seems to dance around each other before settling by mutual and slowly agreed consent on a mood of contemplative unease. Every note is played serving to ensure a state of enticement, to keep the listening closely for things to evolve, even though the prospect of resolution is something perpetually and constructively deferred.
The mood, something antithetical to music that is anything but a music of mood, is on "Twelve Tone Tales" again one of unease, although this time the processes of deep thinking are closer to the music's surface, serving as indicators of dialogue in a perpetual state of flux.
The brief "Eight" gets as close as anything here to Cecil Taylor's hyperactivity, although the contours of the music are inevitably and entirely of the duo's own making. Lennie Tristano comes into the reckoning too with the deployment of long lines strung out for the soundest and most trenchantly resounding of musical reasons.
Neither player is credited with the celeste, but it's that instrument that turns up beneath one pair of hands on "Zankapfel." It adds a whole different color to proceedings which have even less truck with resolution. The music seems to take on an unassuming force of its own, turning the two players into mere servants even while they consciously avoid both bombast and every empty gesture that goes with it.
The title track is almost a repeat performance in terms of the dynamics of the music, but of course the very notion of repetition to musicians like these, is another take on anathema. Even in such circumstances the music is again given the time to breathe and the exchanges between the two are seamless.
"Passacaglia 1, 2, 3" is perhaps as close to conventional in its development as anything here. Underplaying is the mutually agreed order of the day and the slightly faltering progress of the music sounds as much like a homage to Claude Debussy as it does to Thelonious Monk.
Nic Jones, All About Jazz, January 15, 2009

 

The Wire, London, January 2009

 

John Fordham, The Guardian, London, January, 30, 2009

 

Martin Schuster, Concerto, Österreich, Februar-März 2009

 

Piano Duets ist der nüchterne Untertitel dieses dialektischen Doppelwhoppers, der auf grandiose Weise einmal mehr auf den Punkt bringt, wie nicht nur zwei individuelle Spielweisen lebendig miteinander umgehen können, sondern auch zwei idiomatische Genres, nämlich 12-Ton-Musik und Jazz, um es einmal ganz kernig und salopp zu sagen, um damit wie meist der Wahrheit am direktesten Rechnung zu tragen. Man kommt schnell zur Sache: vom Impressionismus zum Expressionsimus, vom Zarten zum Harten und wieder zurück und nebeneinander und gleichzeitig und immer am selben Ort und stets nomadisierend. Das musikalische Debut gab sich diese private Partnerschaft bereits vor 15 Jahren, damals auch mit Fremdkompositionen, heute ist man sein eigener bescheidener aber wissender Klassiker: bodenständig, hochtrabend, spitz, cool, heißspornig, intelligent, immer noch weit draußen und tief drinnen.
"made my day" by HONKER, TERZ 03.09

 

Jason Bivins, Signal to Noise, USA/Canada, Spring 2009

 

Jörg Kondrad, Pianist, Deutschland, März 2009

Peter De Backer, Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium, March 2009

 

Die private Liaison diesmal als Pianopaar. Takase & Schlippenbach setzen die Tradition der großen Klavierduos im Jazz grandios fort (Beirach & Laverne, Burmester & Laginha, Gulda & Corea, Hancock & Corea, Hines & Byard, Williams & Viklicky, Crispell & Schweizer, Schlippenbach & Theurer, Evans & McPartland, um nur ein paar dieser Einspielungen aufzuzählen). Das Material stammt ausschließlich von den beiden Protagonisten. Die Improvisationen (Kompositionen) sind stringent und zeigen die beiden Pianisten im vertrauten Umgang miteinander. Das Fordern und Gefordertwerden, die Interaktion werden virtuos ohne billige Effekthascherei in einer 65-minütigen Seance dargeboten. Der frühe Vogel in Early Light’ fängt da nicht den Wurm, sondern eine ganz zarte und sympathisch melancholische Morgenstimmung ein; die Ereignisse der Nacht klingen noch ein wenig nach, aber der beginnende Tag ist in seinen festen Umrissen und Strukturen schon spürbar. Reduziert und wach klingt die Suite In Five Parts’, beim Titel Zankapfel’ meint man als Hörer fast eingeladen zu sein, der intimen Entstehungsgeschichte dieser Zusammenarbeit beiwohnen zu dürfen. Die doch sehr unterschiedlichen Musiksprachen’ von Takase und Schlippenbach machen einen weiteren nicht unwesentlichen Reiz dieser CD aus. Ein intimes Zwiegespräch entstand, bei dem die beiden Musiker sich und dem Zuhörer nichts beweisen mussten, man machte keine Jagd auf Spektakuläres und schaffte es so Iron Wedding’ wirklich gelingen zu lassen. Im Far On’, der letzten Komposition der CD, schließt sich der Kreis, und man fühlt förmlich den Puls einer meditativen, stoischen Ruhe, der über den Tönen schwebt. In unseren Zeiten der Krisen und der Skandale keine schlechte Sache, so ruhig und doch bestimmt an unsere biedere Endlichkeit erinnert zu werden.
Ernst Mitter, freiStil, Magazin für Musik und Umgebung. Nr 24, 2009

 

Japanese pianist Aki Takase and German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach are no strangers to each other or to European jazz fans. The senior von Schlippenbach has been on the jazz scene a good bit longer, having led two orchestras, with Takase replacing Misha Mengelberg as second pianist in his Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. Their earlier duo piano CD, Live in Berlin, displayed a sense of humor and an incredible range of musical interests, while they have also worked together in other settings.
Iron Wedding consists of just over an hour of duo improvisations, recorded over two days in the studio. While the pianist spouses are not identified by individual channel, these performances sound as if they have come from one mind, as both Takase and von Schlippenbach quickly react to each other's sudden changes in direction, tempo or mood. At one point, in the haunting "Twelve Tone Blues," a celeste is briefly heard (though not mentioned in the credits nor in the liner notes), then just as rapidly disappears for good. This is music without boundaries that demands total attention, but the rewards of listening to it are immense.
Ken Dryden, "Five Piano Duos", www.allaboutjazz.com, April 4 2009

 

Yvan Amar, Jazzman, France, April 2009

 

Ken Dryden, All About Jazz New York, USA, April 2009

 

Alexander von Schlippenbach, Aki Takase and Rudi Mahall: Betting on Tradition.
European improvisation began to set itself apart when it built its own tradition, drawing from folk forms and concert music rather than providing provincial answers to questions posed by Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk or Duke Ellington. Of course, all these figures factored into the music of players like trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, drummer Gil Cuppini and reed player John Surman, but it was their geography and local traditions that made their approaches different. German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach has been at the forefront of the jazz vanguard in his home country and in Western Europe since the 1960s. Beginning as a hard bop player, Schlippenbach's free playing was early on compared to Cecil Taylor and his orchestral works with the Globe Unity Orchestra, a proposal out of the left field of Darmstadt.
But Monk's music has long been a major part of Schlippenbach's work, whether resulting in pure renditions or obtuse reference. His piano playing is relentlessly rhythmic and beholden to an earlier tradition than his peers and immediate forebears—in Schlippenbach's solo work, it's possible to hear vestiges of Fats Waller, for instance. Three new discs examine Schlippenbach's piano from the point of solo, duet and lasting influence: a late 1970s solo date originally issued on FMP; duets with Aki Takase; and Takase's duo project with Globe Unity Orchestra bass clarinetist and Schlippenbach collaborator Rudi Mahall.
...
Schlippenbach and his partner, Japanese-born pianist and composer Aki Takase, have collaborated since the 1990s, and Iron Wedding is their third recording of duets. Though the scope of their independent work is rather different, they are extraordinarily intertwined—no attribution of phrases is necessary as their approaches are complementary. "Circuit" places delicate glissandi and jumpy blocks in close proximity, a stuttering dance that teases out pirouettes and motivic swing until clusters and runs become ever closer together, masses superimposed until the tune flames out. "Suite in Five Parts" begins with sharp floaters and bubbles creeping in from the periphery and re-approached with a sustained touch. It's a play between coagulated but defined patches of notes and gauzy singularities, combining into a very pure and layered improvisational carpet. Schlippenbach's composition "Twelve Tone Tales" is given the duet treatment. Here its deliberate spirals are wrapped in rhapsodic flesh and augmented by a brief flourish from Takase's celesta. Iron Wedding is most interesting when Schlippenbach and Takase are given space, whether that's the dual agitation of wooden knocks and string rustling in "Gold Inside" or the intertwining boppish songbirds of "Eight." Sheer muscle does impress, but the beauty of this record lies in the oft-atmospheric contours between.
Clifford Allen, www.allaboutjazz.com, USA, May 5, 2009

 

La relazione umana e artistica tra Alexander Von Schlippenbach e Aki Takase è più lunga di quella che si potrebbe dedurre dal titolo: il termine The Iron Wedding è infatti usato dai coniugi quando celebrano il sesto anno di matrimonio.
La loro primo duo risale all'inizio degli anni novanta (Piano Duets - Live In Berlin 93/94) e più recentemente i pianisti si son trovati a dialogare nel lavoro di Vincent Graf, più noto col nome DJ Illvibe, che è poi il figlio di Alexander.
La relazione artistica si è sviluppata altre volte in concerto, in un confronto quanto mai ricco e creativo che Aki ha poi definito, in un'intervista, "una piccola battaglia in palcoscenico".
Il confronto pianistico di cui parliamo ora, promosso dal Kulturradio Berlin Brandemburg il 19 e 20 marzo 2008, è l'epilogo di una nuova serie di concerti tenuti nel biennio 2007/2008 che hanno ulteriormente affinato quest'empatica relazione artistica.
Il disco è completamente improvvisato e la relazione si sviluppa, al massimo, sulla base di qualche frammento tematico: ciò che conta è la concentrazione, la capacità di dialogare in tempo reale, rispondendo alle sollecitazioni reciproche. Una formula rischiosa, che richiede alta partecipazione (anche all'ascoltatore) ma che - in situazioni come questa - ripaga ampiamente: si ha l'opportunità di assistere in diretta ad un profondo, quasi telepatico, dialogo creativo.
Il disco si snoda attraverso 17 conversazioni musicali generalmente di breve durata (l'unico brano esteso è diviso in cinque parti) che si caratterizzano per l'originale fisionomia personale: all'interno di una comune dimensione astratta si passa da episodi lirici, spesso d'impronta cameristica, ad altri di fattura quasi tradizionale, per toccare momenti di libera improvvisazione free.
È ovviamente difficile stilare preferenze in questo percorso: molto dipende infatti dalla sensibilità dell'ascoltatore e dalla sua capacità di individuare le rispettive individualità. Ma l'empatia è intensa e - molto spesso - ci si dimentica di ascoltare due pianoforti e sembra di aver di fronte un solo grand piano, capace di formulare straordinari percorsi.
Angelo Leonardi, All About Jazz Italia, Italy, 26-05-2009

 

Duncan Heining, Jazzwise, UK, June 2009

 

Rolf Thomas. Transkontinentale Künstler-Ehe. Jazzthetik, Juli/August 2009



Improviseren kan je leren en is ook een verhaal van elkaar aanvoelen. Deze twee pianisten spelen al een hele tijd (Von Schlippenbach sinds de jaren ’60) in de eerste divisie van jazz, avant garde en zelfs klassiek. Bovendien zijn het levenspartners. Vreemd dan toch dat dit slechts de tweede plaat is die ze als duo uitbrengen – de vorige dateert al van 15 jaar geleden. Van bij de eerste tonen lost het koppel de verwachtingen in. Hier wordt op het scherp van de snee en met volle overgave gespeeld. In die eerste track nog rustig, zoekend naar klankassociaties, maar wel zo kort op elkaars vel dat het onmogelijk is te bepalen wie wat start of afmaakt, de rollen wisselen constant en vaak ook midden in een idee, dat door de ander weer wordt afgewerkt. De tweede track ‘Circuit’ bevat al veel meer pit en wordt behoorlijk intens, maar de piano’s blijven innig vervlochten. ‘Suite In Five Parts’ is de langste track en toont hoe de twee in cycli denken. Vijf keer wordt van een stacato opvolgen van korte tonen vertrokken om via verschillende paden in schoonheid te eindigen. Een sterk gevarieerde plaat ook waar je je best in zijn geheel aan overgeeft. Al schudt de titeltrack je toch flink wakker met zijn heftige, zware en doorzinderinde tonen (het metaal uit de titel) die overgaan in stevige power play. Aan genres en hokjesdenken heeft dit koppel lak en dus is jazz soms ver weg en hedendaags klassiek dichtbij (en omgekeerd) – al hoor je vooral liefdevolle onrust en intens maar doordacht samenspel. Ferm!
Soundslike. Jazz!! Belgium, 10/06/2009

 

When Aki Takase and Alexander von Schlippenbach get together, it is an occasion of note. Both have done this to good effect in the past and, of course, both have an enormous track record in the music. This is a meeting of titans. Does it live up to musical expectations?
Yes. Artists of this caliber have reached a level where there is structure in every two notes played. What Serialist composers painstakingly notated and pianist spent hours to master in the ‘50s and ‘60s has been assimilated as part of the spontaneous vocabularies of these two, along with what has gone before in the Improv and Jazz syntaxes. Their playing reflects all of it, one way or another, and they give out with their seat-of-the-pants structuring as two-way dialogues with a seeming ease born of much work and keen sets of ears.
A Modern Classical sounding moment of rarified, exotic harmonies and abstract melodies is what “Early Light” conveys. With “Circuit” the chords have a jagged feel and alternate with glisses in an abstract kind of bounce. It transforms to a dense barrage. “Suite in Five Parts” is in some ways the centerpiece of the disk. Pointillistic beginnings of serial sounding note groupings transform to quiet chords and tone blocks containing an abstract melody. On to more slowly unfolding musical events—pointillism, chord blocks, then on to sprawling melody. It ends with choppy, busy 12-tonish expressivity. All the movements hang together as a single piece. It sustains one’s attention by its movemental episodes all filled with plenty of musical interest.
The title cut, “Iron Wedding,” presents jagged, forceful lines and clusters. The playing gets pretty dense and tumultuous with powerful thrusts of piano notedness, then quiets down a touch. Can all the tortuous complexities of notation for the Serialist form of avant now be replaced by Free sorts of improvisations like this? There’s room for both, of course. And if you listen closely to both sorts of musics they begin to distinguish themselves. Those looking for some rigorous structure behind their cacophony may be more satisfied with the written musics. The objective with Serialism is a kind of clarity; for Free music the emphasis is on expression. But even a superficial listen reveals affinities. Sometimes, like the very rapid linings toward the end of “Iron Wedding,” the music extends beyond the possibilities of notation, and so it enters the “oral-aural” realm. Ultimately no system of notation captures all that happens in a performance, though, so there you are either way.
And that in many ways sums up the value and interest of this session. It is often far more than what could be notated. Two masters of the art of listening and responding do what they do best. The music captivates. It is exceptional. Need I say more?
Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence, USA, July/August/September 2009

 

Alain Drouot, Downbeat, USA, November 2009

 

Iron Wedding no es únicamente el encuentro de dos pianistas excepcionales como son la japonesa Aki Takase y el alemán Alexander Von Schlippenbach. También es la celebración musical de dos compañeros que en lo puramente personal caminan juntos desde hace ya muchos años. Éste es un encuentro fascinante y sorpendente, en el que la música muestra bastante más que lo que se pudiese sospechar a priori. Iron Wedding es un terreno de juego neutral en el que ambos pianistas dejan trabajar con comodidad a su compañero. Como no podría ser de otro modo allí aparecen ecos de muchos músicas y músicos. De Monk y de Fats Waller. De Cecil Taylor, de Ornette Coleman y de Mingus. Pero también de Webern y de Schönberg. Todos ellos cohabitan, coexisten en las manos de estos artistas. La breve duración de las piezas, así como unos diálogos buscados y magníficamente conseguidos, que buscan la belleza, y que no rehuyen sino que por el contrario se empeñan en adentrarse en terrenos aparentemente ajenos al jazz (tal y como ocurre, por ejemplo, en el magnífico final del disco los dos minutos y seis segundos de "Rain", seguidos por los cuatro minutos y once segundos de "Far On"), hacen de Iron Wedding una obra magnífica, así como un magnífico ejemplo de lo que debiera ser el acercamiento y el entendimiento entre dos músicos en un terreno tan aparentemente complicado como es el de los dúos de piano.
Pachi Tapiz, www.tomajazz.com, 22 de octubre de 2009

 

Johan Hauknes. Alexander von Schlippenbach Portrait. Jazznytt, Oslo, 50 / Nr. 1:2010


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