July 12, 2007
Robert Dick and Ursel Schlicht
Nemu Records nemu 002
By Ken Waxman
Virtuosi on their respective instruments, American flautist Robert Dick and German pianist Ursel Schlicht meld experiences with improvised and notated sounds on this session, idiosyncratically amending two of musics most venerable timbres.
Although the CD impresses overall, the weakest track is Dicks solo, Piece in a Gamelan Style. Perhaps the excessively formalist outing is a reminder that the flautists background is so-called classical, while the pianists is in improvisation. Schlichts collaborators include the likes of trombonist Steve Swell, while Dick has recorded with the Soldier String Quartet.
As a duo each contributes complementary skills, making the other selections unpretentious, though no less serious. Leading to a scherzo finale, Fragments builds up to it with tough arpeggios from the pianist and bitten-off, pitch-sliding timbres from the flautist after a solo piano exposition of short, spiky grace notes and surging crescendos. Adagio and tremolo, Lapis Blues, with Schlicht on prepared piano and Dick on flute with a timbre-altering attachment, allows the two to transform bird-like twitters and tongue slaps plus strummed chords and reflective taps on the pianos internal strings so that the instruments take on the properties of dizi and guzheng respectively.
Emergence, an instant composition, conclusively validates the teamwork. After Schlichts contrapuntal note pressure and bass clef pounding meet Dicks cistern-deep vibrations, taut, circular flute timbres adumbrate crab-walking keyboard dynamics that elicit sympathetic vibrations from within the instrument.
Defined as a luminous surface layer of the sun, the title reflects both the properties of the CD itself and the playing preserved on it.
In MusicWorks Issue #98