Reinhold Friedl

February 1, 2021

Zeitkratzer productions zkr0027/Bocian Records zv

Roscoe Mitchell


Angelica IDA039/IDA040

Whether composers are the best interpreters of their own music becomes a moot question when it comes to sounds informed by improvised music. At least the idea is elaborated, if not resolved, on these discs where the composers take part in the performances of their music.

More straightforward as well as innovative, KRAFFT features a reading of a forceful composition of the same name, commissioned by the French state and played by its composer German pianist Reinhold Friedl with the eight piece Zeitkratzer band he directs plus the nine-piece French ensemble 2e2m conducted by Pierre Roullier. Splatter on the other hand features two orchestrations of small group compositions by American saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell played by the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, conducted by Tonino Battista, with Mitchell and US baritone Thomas Buckner as soloists. The CD also features a massive Mega Luna dual instant composition performed by Mitchell and Italian Francesco Filidei on pipe organ.

In truth Friedli’s individual contributions as a player or that of any of the other 16 musicians are secondary to the concentrated microtonal emphasis of KRAFFT’s four sections. Throughout the squirming narrative becomes higher pitched, louder and more diffuse as the pointillist dabs become concentrated into shifting vibrations. Among the timbres briefly and distantly heard are sharp string strops, shrieking reed whistles, hints of percussion pulses and guitar licks. Only on the fourth section are more assertive musical textures sounded as the piece builds to a climax. As alphorn-like inferences mix with cymbal clashes, the seven string players swab and splatter sul tasto stops and taut stinging pulls that accelerate rhythmically to define then halt the seemingly infinite narrative.

Interesting enough, ensemble 2e2m is one of the contemporary music outfits which have performed Filidei’s own composition. But on the nearly 49-minute “Breath and Pipes”, he and the pipe organ’s pipes, ranks and stops serve as foil to Mitchell’s musings on his three saxophones. Recorded at a Bologna basilica, the piece languidly ascends from gentle reed spits and squeaks backed by the organ’s tremolo echoes to the repetitive motifs that characterize the theme. As spiky reed tones are chased by high and low pitches from the dual keyboards, the power surges are vibrated to connect with nasal reed smears. While the organ throbs continue delineating the initial theme, Mitchell produces a contrapuntal melody whose elasticized wind breaths and unexpected Blues notes confirm the saxophonist’s distance from formal European sounds. Gilding the acoustic lily however, the piece doesn’t end there. It continues for twice the length with Mitchell contributing altissimo split tones, tough doits and thin, atmospheric snarls, while Filidei builds up complementary pulsations which widen the narrative and smear textures into all corners of the program. Nasal soprano saxophone diffusions alternate with melody extension from Mitchell as the organist’s percussive tremolos consistently expose tonal variations. These are met with technical aplomb that encompass sheets of sound and circular breathing from the saxophonist and finally reach a dual climax of canine reed yelps and squeaking keyboard flutters. Completing the circle, Mitchell’s hard reed variations reference the introduction while ending the piece.

More conventional when interacting with the Bologna orchestra, the other selections use the intense cresting possible from a large, multi-sectional ensemble to move between background and foreground when accompanying Buckner and Mitchell. “Distant Radio Transmission” is more memorable since the concentrated glissandi of symphonic creaminess serves as a fitting contrast to the saxophonist’s unconventional stretching and shaking reed tones and the vocalist’s cries, crackles and nonsense syllable mumbles.

Composer presence or not these sets should be appreciated for their unique interpretations.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Splatter: 1. Splatter ^ 2. Distant Radio Transmission* 3. Breath and Pipes+

Personnel: Splatter: Roscoe Mitchell (alto, soprano and sopranino saxophones); Francesco Filidei (organ)+; Thomas Buckner (baritone voice); Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna,Tonino Battista (conductor); Christopher Mega Luna (transcription and orchestration)^; John Ivers (transcription and string orchestration)*; Stephen Harvey (transcription)

Track Listing: KRAFFT: 1. KRAFFT Part 1 2. KRAFFT Part 2 3. KRAFFT Part 3 4. KRAFFT Part 4

Personnel: KRAFFT: Zeitkratzer: Hilary Jeffery (trombone); Elena Kakaliagou (French horn); Frank Gratkowski (clarinets); Reinhold Friedl (piano); Lisa Marie Landgraf, Burkhard Schlothauer (violin); Elisabeth Coudoux (cello); Ulrich Phillipp (bass); Maurice de Martin (percussion) + ensembe 2e2m: Laurent Bômont (trumpet); Tancrède Cymerman (tuba); Pierre-Stéphane Meugé (alto saxophone); Véronique Briel (piano): Laure Boissinot (violin); Didier Aschour (guitar): Benjamin Garnier (cello); Tanguy Menez (bass); Vincent Limouzin (percussion); Pierre Roullier (conductor)