Early & Late
01 March 2014
Davld FanningNew/Old or Folk/Art mixtures
have been a staple diet for contemporary ensembles ever since the 1960s. The three musicians who constitute Gaman offer a new twist, arranging traditional tunes and commissioning new pieces for recorder, violin and classical accordion (with occasional doublings on carving boards and tin whistle). The folk arrangements, based on tunes from Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, would be perfect as an accompaniment to an evening of poetry reading and dancing, or as backing tracks for Sting. No insult intended with either comparison; but unless you are already attached to the respective folk cultures, it's hard to think of this as more than pleasant pastime listening.
The contemporary pieces naturally offer more to chew on. Rune Glerup's objets/decalages ('objects/time-shifts') is a six-minute collage of dance-like and static ideas, intercut in the manner of Maxwell Davies's Antechrist or Birwistle's Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum. A talented miniature, whose images perhaps invite a larger canvas. Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen is a past master at such post-Stravinskian assemblages and his Together or Not is the standout piece on the disc. In the course of eight minutes it puts together its fragments in a way that manages, like the best abstract paintings, to be at once fascinating at first encounter, haunting on reacquaintance and thought-provoking in between.
Sunleif Rasmussen 's Accuire (ACCordiOl VIolin and REcorder) is a polystylistic medley in which Ligeti meets Vivaldi meets atonal ballads. At 10 minutes it gives itself space to unfold interesting juxtapositions, but I'm not sure it succeeds in doing so, for all the musicians' claims that it evokes Faroese landscapes and weather-patterns.
Fifty minutes is arguably rather short measure. On the other hand the disc offers a highly distinctive concept and timbral palette, and it is beautifully recorded.