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Monday, January 2, 2023

Holland Baroque and Bastarda Trio - Minne (Pentatone, 2022)

By Ron Coulter

Wow, this is a unique and fascinating album! Minne, presents a totally original take on baroque and medieval era music through new compositions and arrangements that include improvisation and unique instrumentations.

This nine-track album is a collaboration between the Dutch group, Holland Baroque, a 16-member ensemble (utilizing 11 of those members here), and the Polish group, Bastarda Trio, comprised of Paweł Szamburski (clarinet), Michał Górczyński (contrabass clarinet), and Tomasz Pokrzywiński (cello).

There is a reserved elegance and richness to the music on this album that is at once familiar and completely new; combining elements of modern and traditional, unconventional and conventional. Track 5, Spiritus sanctus (after Hildegard von Bingen, 1098-1179), Heinrich Isaac (ca. 1450-1517) embodies this seamless melding of contrasting musical elements. It begins with a noisey, mechanistic introduction of 1’21” (sounding nothing like the instruments involved) that gradually develops into a romping statement of Isaac’s Spiritus sanctus (sounding like something from Game of Thrones, or any medieval soundtrack of your choice), and finally ending with a soaring clarinet solo over an energetic 15/16 vamp.

Other highlights from the album include the seething dissonance and ominous melodicism of track 4, Nigra sum (after Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, 1525-1594); the electronic sounding introduction of track 6, Te laudant; and any and all contributions from contrabass clarinetist, Michał Górczyński. All of the playing on this album is superb, but the grounding weight (low pitch range and timbre) and at times rhythmic vitality from the contrabass clarinet really propel the music to a higher level; one would be challenged to imagine this music without Górczyński’s presence.

Minne , was released on May 13, 2022 as a Hybrid SACD (which plays on Super Audio Compact Disc players and standard CD players) and digital download. It is an intriguing album filled with rich textures, carefully conceived compositions and arrangements, expert improvisations, and many enticing musical qualities that are better listened to than described here. Whether or not a listener has any familiarity with, or interest in, baroque or medieval musics, this album is a must listen for those interested in creative music and especially the creative re-imagining and interpretation of existing musics.

and the label


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review ! You made me want to listen the album while I saw it few months ago !
As you talk about the quality of the recording, I think it should be interesting to add that when you purchase this album from bandcamp you obtain 16/44 files. High-Res (24/192) or (24/96) are available via Qobuz as example, but they are more expensive...

RC said...

Hi, thanks very much for your comment and the additional information on the higher quality audio files! Best, Ron