AMN Reviews: Udo Schindler & Elisabeth Harnik: Empty Pigeonhole

Udo Schindler & Elisabeth Harnik: Empty Pigeonhole [cs247]

Since 2009, the German multi-wind player Udo Schindler has held monthly concerts at his home. The concert of 26 October 2012, pairing Schindler with Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik, is presented in this intriguing, multi-faceted release.

The title of the CD is well-chosen. The music that takes shape across these two long tracks doesn’t fit into the constraints of any stylistic pigeonhole. And this comes as no surprise: Both musicians are notably versatile in their choices of sounds and in the ways that they bind together and respond to the different moments in which they find themselves. Harnik makes use of every part of the piano, whether by tapping and rattling directly on the strings or wood, phrasing in ecstatic leaps of interval and dynamic, or putting out cascades of notes in measured motion upward and downward. Schindler, for his part, moves adeptly from soprano saxophone to bass clarinet to contrabass clarinet to cornet, at times functioning as the soloist in a sonata and at other times as a weaver of esoteric sound textures. Empty Pigeonhole Part 1 moves with a paradoxically emotional logic from section to section, each of which is defined by a mood as well as by instrumental color and the blend of conventional and unconventional technique that both players offer. Empty Pigeonhole Part 2 is more about texture and color as manifested by the exploration of primal sound elements, though it is expansive enough to include an explosive soprano sax solo over a piano pedal point.