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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Elisabeth Harnik & Udo Schindler - Empty Pigeonhole (Creative Sources, 2013) ****

By Stef

Elisabeth Harnik plays piano and Udo Schindler plays bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, soprano saxophone and cornet, in a strange but always fascinating dialogue, starting with hesitating explorations of empty space, changing into confident and fully voiced piano which fades away for quiet moaning clarinet.

Sounds are fragile and shifting, played cautiously in different ways by the same instruments, in long stretched phrases, or in percussive plucking, and then contrasted by the original and full-blown sound of either piano or clarinet, offering a moment of recognition and home-coming, yet even then the deep emotions expressed keep their sense of agony and distress, and the first long piece ends at full volume, with the cornet and the piano interacting nervously and agitatedly.

The second track is more homogeneous, with the clarinet taking the first part as the lead instrument, with the piano being plucked sparingly and lightly to accentuate, yet the mood shifts in the second part, when the piano takes the lead, coercing the clarinet into a more intense dialogue, with higher density of the sounds, becoming more frenetic as it develops, with maddening phrases played by Harnik, with a slightly shifting and halting repetitive pattern that completely drowns the clarinet at first until it gets a second breath.

This album will not be for everybody's ears, but the quality and the variety of the improvisation is sufficient to make this fascinating music that you will want to listen to again.

A great listening experience.