Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Under The Shadow – Carlos Mena, Ghalmia Senouci, Disfonik Orchestra, Jacques Beaud (Audio video)

The hauntingly beautiful voice of countertenor Carlos Mena is featured here on the Mirare début of the Disfonik Orchestra. The group's music blends jazz and classical with other influences to produce a sound that is both unique and captivating. "Under the Shadow" includes a selection of some of the most beautiful works in the classical repertoire, delicately arranged for jazz band.

From the first piece, "Shall I Sue", which introduces us to the aesthetic concept of the disc, to the sublime "When I am laid in Earth", Dido's final lament, the unique voice of internationally renowned countertenor Carlos Mena enhances Jacques Beaud's arrangements. As a countertenor himself, Beaud lends his voice to the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne conducted by Michel Corboz and Daniel Reuss; and, as a bass player, he shares the stage with prestigious jazzmen. What Jacques Beaud offers here is a very personal approach to the encounter between free jazz, improvisation and classical music. Carlos Mena captivates by the purity of his timbre and hypersensitive musicality, offering a performance in keeping with the concept of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas", an opera halfway between the English masque and the Italian cantata, already considered a hybrid genre at the time.


Συνδυάζοντας με εντυπωσιακό τρόπο την κλασική μουσική και την τζαζ, η Disfonik Orchestra, με επικεφαλής τον μπασίστα Jacques Beaud, συνοδεύει τον διεθνούς φήμης Ισπανό κόντρα-τενόρο Carlos Mena και την άλτο Ghalmia Senouci σε τραγούδια βασισμένα πάνω σε μουσικά θέματα και άριες – διασκευασμένα όλα από τους Jacques Beaud, Patrick Perrier, Salvatore Reitano και David Tixier – των Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ (1685-1750), Τζιοβάνι Λεγκρέντσι (1626-1690), Γκαμπριέλ Φωρέ (1845-1924), Χένρι Πέρσελ (1659-1695), Κλαούντιο Μοντεβέρντι (1567-1643), Ρόμπερτ Σούμαν (1810-1856) και Νίκολα Πόρπορα (1686-1768). Το άλμπουμ "Under the Shadow" ηχογραφήθηκε στο Studio du Flon στη Λωζάνη της Ελβετίας, από τις 5 έως τις 8 Ιουνίου του 2014 και κυκλοφόρησε από τη γαλλική δισκογραφική εταιρεία Mirare τον Οκτώβριο του 2016.

"Under the Shadow"

1. Shall I Sue (JS Bach, Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008, Prélude, Arr. Patrick Perrier & Jacques Beaud)
2. King Henry (Traditional Corsican melody, Arr. Jacques Beaud)
3. Never Come Back Again (Giovanni Legrenzi [1626-1690], Arr. Jacques Beaud & Salvatore Reitano)
4. A Prayer (Gabriel Fauré, Requiem Op.48, "Libera me", Arr. Jacques Beaud, Salvatore Reitano & David Tixier)
5. When I am Laid in Earth (Henry Purcell, Dido and Aeneas, Arr. Jacques Beaud)
6. 1080 Love (JS Bach, The Art of Fugue BWV 1080, Arr. Jacques Beaud & Salvatore Reitano)
7. Let Me Die Alone (Claudio Monteverdi, Lamento della ninfa, SV 163, Arr. Jacques Beaud & Salvatore Reitano)
8. White as Lilies (Robert Schumann, Dichterliebe Op.48 "Ich will meine Seele tauchen", Arr. Jacques Beaud & David Tixier)
9. Land of Darkness (Nicola Porpora, Polifemo "Alto Giove", Arr. Jacques Beaud & David Tixier)

Carlos Mena, countertenor
Ghalmia Senouci, alto

Disfonik Orchestra:
Jacques Beaud, electric bass, musical direction
David Tixier, piano
Salvatore Reitano & Olivier Magarotto, Hammond B3 organs
Thomas Maeder, saxophones
Juan Mungia, flugelhorn
Cyril Regamey & Francis Stoessel, drums
Andi Pupato, percussion

Recording: Studio du Flon, Lausanne, Switzerland, 5-8 June 2014

Mirare 2016

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

Carlos Mena

Beyond jazz and classical, the quest for a universal harmony

The tone is set right from the first piece, "Shall I Sue", which introduces us to the aesthetical concept of the disc and has us holding our breath until the very last note.

This convergence of artistic worlds and styles recalls Jacques Beaud's career in both jazz and classical music. As a countertenor, he lends his voice to the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne conducted by Michel Corboz and Daniel Reuss; and, as a bass player, he shares the stage with prestigious jazzmen. This disc, where the musical experiences of its creator and arranger intersect, could very well be a true study in stylistic autobiography, inspired by varied musical influences.

What Jacques Beaud offers here with his arrangements is a very personal approach of the encounter between jazz and classical music. We realize that Bach, Purcell, Legrenzi or even Fauré can be sung "jazzy", but the fusion cultivated by Jacques Beaud is rather the result of a multidimensional exploration that goes way beyond a mere mixture based on the binary relationship between jazz and classical. "Poetry", according to Jean Cocteau, "changes the world; the artist changes everything into gold". This is indeed the case with music. This transformation transcends our hearing by having us discover unprecedented sounds. However, this encounter retains the individual character of each world. The alchemy results from a balance made possible by the skilfully arranged and orchestrated interplay of contrasts.

"King Henry", based on a melodic theme inspired by a Corsican folk song associated with jazz, avoids the classical-jazz divide. One thus takes the full measure of the different soundscapes explored by Jacques Beaud and the Disfonik Orchestra.

"Never Come Back Again", after Giovanni Legrenzi's (1626-1690) "Lumi, potete piangere", unites the voices of Ghalmia Senouci and Carlos Mena in a gracious osmosis accompanied by piano arpeggios that induce meditation. "A Prayer" extends this moment: we readily picture ourselves in the nocturnal atmosphere of New York's Blue-Note, with Thomas Maeder's saxophone highlighting the "free" character of the arrangement. A vocal quartet ends this "prayer" with a "quasi religioso" section respecting Fauré's (1845-1924) harmonies – accomplishing a true stylistic feat with this encounter between different sound worlds.

"When I am Laid in Earth", performed here by Carlos Mena, is Dido's lament. The Hammond organ, with its deep sounds, played by Olivier Magarotto, is then joined by the bass and the piano. Together, they open up the mysterious, chilling ground that accompanies Dido to her death. Carlos Mena captivates by the purity of his timbre and his hypersensitive musicality, offering a performance in keeping with the "postmadrigalesque" concept of Purcell's (1659-1695) "Dido and Aeneas", an opera halfway between the English "masque" and the Italian cantata, already considered a hybrid genre at the time. A majestic saxophone joins this slow agony, improvising in the upper register a Shakespearian threnody that expresses the queen's ineffable pain.

The piece titled "1080 Love", for the occasion, after Bach's (1685-1750) "Art of Fugue" BWV 1080, links fugal counterpoint and variation, up to the section giving free rein to improvisation. David Tixier's piano then takes over, comfortably established in the mood of a jazzy music that imposes itself quite evidently. This improvisation, with its colourful lyricism and percussive approach recalling Chick Corea at times, is continued by Thomas Maeder's saxophone. The bass, playing a very rhythmical part, merges into the improvisation, accompanied by the drums in blazing rhythms. Jazz finally prevails in the gradual transformation process introduced by Bach's fugue.

But this stylisation is also the result of unlikely encounters. In "Let Me Die Alone", Bach invites himself to Monteverdi's (1567-1643) table, giving the bass the opportunity of moving away from its rhythmical territories in order to paraphrase the "Erbarme Dich" from Bach's "Saint-Matthew Passion" BWV244 in the upper register, accompanied by Salvatore Reitano's expressive piano.

Whereas "White as Lilies", performed by Ghalmia Senouci, with the support of Cyril Regamey's liberated drums, displays the singer's vocal and aesthetical pliability, "Land of Darkness" is heard as the true microcosm of a tragedy inspired by "Alto Giove", after Nicola Porpora's (1686-1768) opera "Polifemo". The acts follow on and allow us to creep into the characters' psychology. The feelings are experienced as if this clever stylistic mixture had rendered the different expressions even more sensitive. Juan Munguía's flugelhorn becomes a hybrid instrument, half-man half-brass, through the combinatory effect of the perceptible breath and the brassy roundness of the sound. This last work creates an expressive chiaroscuro for which Jacques Beaud alone knows the secret, he who has become a master in the art of producing light surpassing our first impressions. As a skilful director, he manages to give life to the moods of different expressive scenes between light and darkness. With his gift for wonderful combinations of different musical periods and styles, Jacques Beaud opens up a new path towards the encounter of different aesthetical worlds.

By coming closer to jazz, Bach, Purcell and Schumann become our contemporaries. Their music inspires, and undeniably carries with it a poetry that one could describe as universal. "The chief function of poetry is to transform us", according to Bachelard. Jacques Beaud's arrangements disrupt our perception of each culture, awaken our senses to this encounter between two worlds that everything opposes, stylistically, but that a principle of universality unites, giving each style a singular dimension and endlessly varying the combinations between classical, jazz and even pop at times.

Stéphane Sacchi
Translation: Dennis Collins

Source: CD Booklet

Ghalmia Senouci

Carlos Mena and Jacques Beaud

See also

Antonio Vivaldi: Nisi Dominus, & Stabat Mater – Carlos Mena, Ricercar Consort, Philippe Pierlot

Domenico Scarlatti: Salve Regina in A major – Carlos Mena, Ensemble 415, Chiara Banchini

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 35 – Carlos Mena, Musica Aeterna

Antonio Vivaldi: Stabat Mater – Carlos Mena, Ensemble 415, Chiara Banchini

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