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An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartók

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Those browsing for a conventional program of Béla Bartók's music will receive little clue of what they're getting into from the external packaging of this album, which is both highly diverting and entirely original. Essentially it consists of short pieces by Bartók, as well as some excerpts from larger works, arranged for an American progressive bluegrass ensemble: banjo, violin, mandolin, guitar, cello, and bass. Project leader banjoist Jake Schepps concedes that the idea is "unlikely," but give it a listen. At the very least, you'll hear something quite unlike any other recording. On top of that, Schepps is joined by some top-notch players, including veteran San Francisco Bay Area mandolinist Matt Flinner and cellist Ben Sollee, a participant in some of banjoist Abigail Washburn's Chinese-bluegrass fusions. A key unheard presence is producer Jayme Stone, a Canadian-American banjoist who has recorded with West African musicians; this project in its way is even more ambitious, and that's all to the good. The deeper idea Schepps is exploring is that progressive bluegrass has the same kind of relationship to American roots material as Bartók's music did to its Hungarian, Bulgarian, Romanian, and Balkan forbears: in each case, the musicians abstract certain features of the roots form (a rhythm, a scale, a motive, an instrumental timbre) and explore it formally. Schepps underlines this by including a traditional American tune, Cousin Sally Brown, and just slightly "Bartók-ifying" it. Some pieces work better than others. For progressive bluegrass listeners, the initial impression is likely to be that the players have taken the genre and stripped out one of its most important components, namely the jazz influence. But keep listening, and intriguing commonalities emerge. Bartók's slow pieces work perfectly well when played with violin techniques developed to convey an American country waltz. Many of the pieces from Bartók's Mikrokosmos or from the 44 Violin Duos explore specific scales, and the scalar music of bluegrass is not so far away. Schepps freely mixes in bluegrass rhythms; the pieces are not simple transcriptions but reimaginings. The music is not consistently successful, but it has the excitement of true originality. ~James Manheim, Rovi

An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartók, Jake Schepps
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  • 99,00 kr
  • Genrer: Klassiskt, Musik
  • Utgiven: 4 okt 2011


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