Label: ECM Records, 2019
Personnel – Marco Ambrosini: nyckelharpa; Anna-Liisa Eller: kannel; Anna-Maria Hefele: overtone singing, harp; Wolf Janscha: jew’s harp; Eva-Maria Rusche: harpsichord, square piano.
Italian-born nyckelharpa player Marco Ambrosini, a co-founder of the Ensemble Oni Wytars, is not a stranger to the ECM catalog, having made his first appearance on Rolf Lislevand’s 2005 recording Nuove Musiche. After a duo collaboration with French accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier in 2014, he resurfaces on the label, leading his own project: the one-of-a-kind Supersonus. The quintet explores archaic-ethnic sounds and forms but gives it a contemporary spin, layering and combining the quirky sounds of instruments like the nyckelharpa (a Swedish fiddle), harpsichord, kannel (an Estonian chordophone instrument), and jew’s harp (a mouth-played lamellophone with a low-pitched indigenous-like sound). Resonances is the ensemble’s first record.
The disc's first offering is “Fuga Xylocopae”, a solo nyckelharpa piece and the only one penned by Ambrosini. The sort of droning ostinato at the base of this song is transferred to Heinrich Biber’s 17th-century “Rosary Sonata Nr. 1” and followed with a murkier reverberance by Wolf Janscha’s jew’s harp on. The distinguishable classical facet, delicate and familiar, assumes a Baroque configuration through the harpsichord playing from Eva-Maria Rusche. The keyboardist contributes “Erimal Nopu”, in which sympathetic sounds hold one another with both groove and sophistication to imply a polyrhythmic feel.
The liturgical medieval song, “O Antiqui Sancti” by Hildegard Von Bingen, provides the most transcendent experience, shimmering with abashed affection with a near-telepathic musical involvement that draws us into a flood of emotions. The overtone singing technique of Anna-Maria Hefele, beautifully accompanied by Anna-Liisa Eller’s kannel, is remarkable here, and she delivers again on the self-penned “2 Four 8”.
Jansche composed “Ananda Rasa” and “Ritus” as two lively classical dances adorned with present-day harmonic progressions and percolating rhythmic maneuvers. The latter piece closes out the record like a Celtic-tinged foray.
Whereas “Toccata in E Minor” and “Praeludium, Tocatta Per L’elevazione”, penned by 17th-century keyboard music composers Froberger and Frescobaldi, respectively, embark on a lightly-fingered, wondrously arpeggiated sort of romanticism, Veli Dede’s “Hicaz Humayun Saz Semaisi” brings Ottoman court music to the table, going from elegiac to spirited.
Multiculturalism is taken further with the inclusion of the Swedish traditional song “Polska”, where Ambrosini brings some pathos into the music. The quintet finds a space uniquely their own with incantatory melodicism and erudite collective involvement.
Often blurring the line between written material and improvisation and retreating from the major traits of jazz, Ambrosini and his associates create breathtaking sculptures of sound while bridging cultural styles. Resonances is a satisfying world-fusion opus.
03 - O Antiqui Sancti ► 04 - Erimal Nopu ► 05 - Polska