Monday, October 28, 2013

Biliana Voutchkova/Michael Thieke - already there (Flexion)

A very subdued, enchanting duo with Voutchkova (violin) and Thieke (clarinet). Listeners aware of Thieke's work with Kai Fagaschinski in The International Nothing will have an inkling as to the nature of the music here. Soft but with insistent grain, long lines frayed into harmonics, layering, refracting and searching forward. I'd only previously heard Voutchkova once, in a fine rendition of Wolff's "Duo for Violins" with Daniella Strasvogel; I'm certainly looking forward to hearing more. There are moments when here when the music almost acquires airs of Northern European string musics, something like Norwegian fiddling, but just an echo. Elsewhere, you hear a plaintive keening that summons forth bagpipe traditions, but more wonderfully sour. There's a healthy amount of nervous anxiety here as well, some skittering and fluttering along those sinuous lines, as in the second track,, wherein Voutchkova, as she does on several occasions, speaks as she's playing, in a low tone that's indecipherable to me and all the more mysterious and beautiful for that. It's a very simple idea, I suppose, but one that I find very strong and oddly moving. Thieke manages to almost bury himself throughout, often sounding quite string-like, on point throughout, providing spine and color. Even when the sounds become fragmented, as on the third piece, there's a bubble-like flow, a kind of percolation that always has things cascading, tumbling, advancing. Great combination of the warm and the itchy--really strong, don't miss it.


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