Heenan Rodrigues Frangenheim Bymel: Berlin [cs238]
Recorded in April 2010 in Berlin, this set of six pieces for a mixed ensemble of strings, wind and percussion situates free improvisation firmly in a 21st century chamber setting. The ensemble, consisting of Chris Heenan (alto saxophone and contrabass clarinet), Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Alexander Frangenheim (double bass) and Ofer Bymel (percussion) is a finely calibrated unit improvising in the vocabulary of fragmentary modernism. Variably grouped pitches organized as discrete points of sound abound, along with leaps in register and dynamics, punctuated by silences. The quartet tends to the cerebral, yet at the same time it is deeply physical in its engagement of the beauty of raw sound in a distinctly musical context. Rodrigues’ viola playing stands out by virtue of his creative use of a varied set of techniques and phrasings: Rapid bursts of notes offset by spiccato bowing, drones and stabs. Likewise Frangenheim draws on an interaction with the bass that exploits the rich span of the instrument’s range. Bymel’s percussion work is never less than astute and judiciously placed, while Heenan’s versatility on both high and low register winds complements the group’s sound with an essential array of timbres.