AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Hughes Mimmo Schlechta Volquartz – Cadenza del Crepuscolo [Amirani AMRN072]; Nicola Guazzaloca and Gianni Mimmo – Herbstreise [Amirani AMRN071]

The two newest releases from Amirani Records offer a dramatic contrast in moods and sonorities.

Cadenza del Crepuscolo is, as its title suggests, a recording that has a twilight feeling—it is the audio analogue of an abstract painting of predominantly dark colors. The ensemble that recorded it is a quartet of John Hughes on double bass; Gianni Mimmo on soprano saxophone; Peer Schelechta on pipe organ; and Ove Volquartz on bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet. Already, the instrumentation betrays a bias toward the lower end of the sound spectrum, with the single high-register instrument paradoxically emphasizing the tonal heaviness of the other three. And the pipe organ, double bass, and bass clarinets do often play in a bloc of low-pitched, densely dissonant harmonies laid out in long sustained notes. These thick washes of sound are punctuated by single lines alternating between the languid and the knotty; at those moments when individual voices break out into an animated polyphony, the music takes a dramatic and rather unexpected turn.

Herbstreise, a duet recording featuring Mimmo once again on soprano saxophone as well as Nicola Guazzaloca on piano, is tonally and in terms of pacing a much brighter affair. The seventeen short tracks present an improvised abstract impressionism that tends toward the nimble and astringent, with extended technique from both players adding a well-honed edge to a number of the performances.

Daniel Barbiero