A couple of weeks ago I finished reading the book "The Cello Suites" by Eric Siblin, a rock journalist who shares his pursuit of the essence of Bach's cello suites in a quite readable and informative book. He gives the background of Bach's life and the context in which the cello suites were composed, as well as their discovery by cellist Pablo Casals and the latter's life with the background of Europe's history of the 20th Century. A highly recommendable book about music that still hits the iTunes charts regularly, and Yo-Yo Ma's performance is on the number ten spot of all-time iTunes classical album downloads.
What Daniel Levin brings, is anything not Bach, far from it, improvising six pieces without any preconceived plan, like a "monologue intérieur", expanding on the ideas that pop us in his head, the surprises that come from the strings, the bow and his fingers. The biggest challenge for any musician in a situation like this, is to fall back on patterns or on automatisms in the fingers. Luckily Levin is too good an improviser to fall into that trap. His concentration and ongoing effort to go beyond this is remarkable, using all his skills and creativity to bring something new and fresh with every "landscape" as all pieces are called.
What he does have in common with Bach, is a great sense of austerity, quite cerebral at times, with no room for cheapness, loss of concentration or sentimentalism. This is music that requires several listens to really get into, because there are no patterns at all : you can have the traditional and familiar aesthetics of the bowed strings, yet the next moment Levin takes you into novel and uncharted territories, with high intervallic jumps, double stops, pizzi, glissandi of identical notes on two strings, from light touch to brutal noise, but he does it in such a subtle and sensitive way, that you feel welcome to join. This is mature and open-hearted music. A really strong album.
Buy from Instantjazz.
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