Sylvie Courvoisier / Mark Feldman - Time Gone Out

Label: Intakt Records, 2019

Personnel - Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Mark Feldman: violin.


Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman, two of the finest and consummate stylists of the New York avant scene, release a new set of bold music on Time Gone Out, twenty years after their first duo recording, Music for Violin and Piano. By turns literate and kinetic, the duo’s direction is never obvious and every little step feels like a secret unraveled.

Homesick For Another World” highlights the enigmatic tones of Feldman’s violin. The bright melodies become sumptuously contoured but the mood never completely leaves the abstraction, which is reinforced when Courvoisier combs the piano strings and issues smothered staccato sounds. This atmosphere differs from “Eclats For Ornette”, a texturally exuberant piece written by the pianist and whose memorable main statement stays in the head. Clever intersections, whether presented in counterpoint or floating whimsically free, add an extra jolt of energy to an interactive scenario that bridges the classical and the avant-garde genres with erudition.

Limits of the Useful” has an eccentric percussive start with the prepared piano and the erratic violin combining with spectral amplitude and odd timbres to create mystery. The percussive approach continues on “Crytoporticus”, a suitable occasion for Courvoisier to explore the depth and range offered by the piano. More refrained, this number goes from murmurous to dreamy to beautifully lyric in its final part, although with punctual impactful blasts arriving from the lower registers of the keyboard. The way these two musicians speak and breathe the music without ever curbing each other’s actions is phenomenal. Thus, freedom and space are always associated with their bilateral conversations, true sources of emotion.

The dramatic piano comping on the tonally interesting “Blindspot” is brilliant, setting the perfect backdrop for Feldman’s piercing shrills, ascending melodic inflations and glissandos, and ultimately soaring phrasing. Despite the vague reverie, the violin sounds more effulgent than dark, even when distributing waves of austerity here and there.

The central piece on the album is the title track, “Time Gone Out”, a nearly 20-minute chamber creation that you may think of as an offbeat chorale with a streamlined approach and celestial bursts. You’ll find an immersive solo piano passage as well as blossoming violin messages appearing as cerebral modern classical incursions dramatized with interactive commitment. Moreover, there’s a poised compromise between hushed, ruminative moments and dynamic activity.

Offering different dividends with each listening, this album encloses too many treasures to be discovered. The long-standing creative partnership between Courvoisier and Feldman is stronger than ever, taking us to a lot of unexpected places.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Eclats For Ornette ► 04 - Blindspot ► 06 - Crytoporticus

Sylvie Courvoisier - Miller's Tale

Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Evan Parker: soprano and tenor saxophone; Mark Feldman: violin; Ikue Mori: electronics.

Brooklyn-based Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier is known for her unreserved exploratory tendencies associated with modern composition, making of the unexpectedness her best weapon.
In her latest album, she convened a quartet whose familiar associates have similar tastes and approaches.  
The abstract “Death of a Salesman” takes off with a scratchy violin and odd noises, passing through an unaccompanied saxophone divagation that later on ends up tangled up with the low notes of Courvoisier’s piano. 
A View From a Bridge” takes form in our minds as an unrushed contemplation, but gains an intensive life as it moves forward when it suggests heavy traffic and ungovernable agitation. The beautiful expressiveness of Feldman’s violin combines terrifically with Evans’ relentless phrasing, but is the piano pointillism set by Courvoisier that links everything together. 
The American Dream” was gloriously sketched through fateful strokes of a restless piano intertwined with Mori’s meddling effects, just until Feldman claims a space for his lachrymose violin, flying solo. Evans sneaks in, and gradually gains ground by throwing in cyclic saxophone trills, setting a spiky conversation with the violinist, mediated by the pianist’s thoughtful voicings. 
Evans’ soprano saxophone appears surprisingly pensive in “Up From Paradise”, but doesn’t take much time to develop into uninterrupted cascades. The tune takes a dreamy path when Courvoisier gets involved and introduces stunning piano punctuations.
These first four tunes, played in quartet, have the compositional signature of the four elements of the band, in opposition to the next five, which resulted from duo collaborations, and whose highlights are “Playing For Time”, which joins Courvoisier and Evans in a beautifully strange dance, and the broody closing tune, “A Fountain Pen”, creation of the pianist and Mori.
Riding freely, “Miller’s Tale” easily puts the listener alert through its engrossing complexity.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – A View From a Bridge ► 03 – The American Dream ► 06 – Playing For Time