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Friday, June 26, 2009

Ernst Reijseger - Tell Me Everything (Winter & Winter, 2008) ****

More than ten years after his first solo recording, Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger is back with an album of the same intensity, albeit with improvisations that are much more mature and balanced. The first piece is relatively free, with birds singing in the background, with the cello sounding equally natural on pizzi. The second piece starts a little avant, but then moves into some arco playing with phrases that refer to Bach's cello suites in spirit, with repetitive hypnotism of Glass, but played in much more raw and piercing way, sensitive and hard at the same time. The third piece consists of strumming of several strings at the same time, guitar-style, with a repetitive rhythm and barely yet continuously changing harmonics, yet breaking the slow progress with increased powerplay in the middle piece, then falling back into more subtle approach. The fourth piece, "Tristan's Tune", starts more joyful, with a nice dancing melody, alternating arco with pizzi touches, yet then evolves into the deeper and darker regions for some wonderful arco playing, then resurfacing near the end, reclaiming the folky tune, yet a little scarred and battered. The last track, "Tell Me Everything", revisits the Bach-like approach, but then extensively, poignantly, even more powerful. You get the gist: lots of skills, borrowing from the classical heritage to jazz and avant-garde, lots of variations - both musically and emotionally, lots of musical creativity and insights. As I'm sure I wrote earlier, there are very few things that are more emotionally gripping and vulnerable than just one artist playing his instrument, in total freedom and control. Very few manage to keep it captivating, but Reijseger certainly does. He is an artist with a stories to tell, in his own voice, full of passion and ideas ... and the birds, they keep singing ....

Listen to an excerpt from "Tell Me Everything"

© stef