Related Rocks – 7th December

Fly, fly my sadness
Mountain Fairy-tale
New Skomorohi
Tuva – Early Morning With My Horse
Russian in China
Lonely Bird
Grand Finale

All arranged Alperin, except *Spasov

Bulgarian Voices – Angelite
Moscow Art Trio
[Mikhail Alperin (piano/direction), Arkady Shilkloper (horns) & Sergey Starostin (reeds)]

Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse

Reviewed: 7 December, 2001
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

In a series which aims to place the music of one composer in the widest perspective, it makes sense to broaden the context to include a jazz/world fusion such as the present performance. So as part of the Related Rocks festival, Mikhail Alperin brought together Huun-Huur-Tu, a vocal and instrumental ensemble from Kyzyl in the Siberian region of Tuva, Bulgarian Voices – Angelite, renowned for its involvement in a plethora of traditional and fusion projects, and the Moscow Art Trio, a pioneer in interaction between jazz, folk and classical musics.

The result was a continuous 88 minutes of absorbing crossover, with instances of pure inspiration. Notable in this respect was ’Fly, fly my sadness’, a haunting call-and-response between one of the Angelite singers and HHT, resulting in five-part harmony with accompaniment that skilfully combined the two vocal timbres; also the expressive multi-part harmony of ’Mountain Fairy-tale’. ’New Skomorchi’ allowed the Moscow Art Trio room to display its distinctive, often eccentric brand of improvisation, while ’Mehmetio’ was a fully-composed chorus of spellbinding heterophony and cluster chords – confirming the virtuosity of Angelite’s musical response.

With HHT and MAT striking sparks off each other, ’Tuva – Early Morning With My Horse’ gave rise to what can only be described as Russian skiffle. After a pensive piano introduction, ’Harvest’ featured two of the Bulgarian singers in floating two-part harmony, Alperin decorating the verses with telling understatement. ’Journey’ evocatively contrasted a solo voice from HHT with duet and choral vocals from Angelite, fading out on the duet’s falsetto arabesque with plaintive insistence. ’Grand Finale’ brought the three groups together in varying – and varyingly effective! – collaborations, with MAT winding things down with capricious good-humour. Three encores gave each outfit a chance to shine in its own unmistakable domain.

Although the pitfalls of trying to combine such diverse cultural and aural entities were often apparent, the collaborations were never less than intriguing, sometimes going beyond the bounds of fusion as so often practised today. Moreover, the harmonic and rhythmic syntheses that arose are often not so far removed from the extended compositional techniques employed by the composer at the centre of this festival – giving the performance more than just a token connection to the “Related Rocks” series. The World of Magnus Lindberg indeed!

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