La produzione di ECM è sconfinata ed estrarne una raccolta antologica sarebbe stato davvero improbo. Musica Jazz ha voluto così sottolineare un aspetto non sempre chiaro ai più, ovvero la qualità artistica e strumentale dei musicisti italiani, caratteristiche che hanno meritato l’attenzione di Manfred Eicher e del suo staff. E anche in questo caso la selezione non è stato semplice, costringendo a trascurare – obtorto collo ma per prosaiche ragioni di spazio – alcune eccellenti produzioni del passato.
Between March 2004 and May 2006 András Schiff performed the complete cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas at the Tonhalle, Zürich, recorded and released by ECM New Series. This collection presents the encores from these concerts. What does one play after Beethoven sonatas? András Schiff: “For me it's essential not to seek entertainment but rather to look for pieces that are closely related to the previously heard sonatas.” The pianist explores links to Schubert, Mozart, Haydn and Bach. For all the interconnecting strands of musical history, András Schiff’s selection of encores also adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable ‘recital’ disc in its own right.
For the second ECM album by Aaron Parks – following the solo release Aborescence, which JazzTimes praised as “expansive, impressionistic… like a vision quest” – the prize-winning pianist has convened a trio featuring bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart. The rhythm pair, which also teams in Hart’s hit quartet for ECM, blends fluidity and strength – what Parks calls “an oceanic” quality, producing waves of energy for the pianist to alternately ride and dive into. Find the Way has the aura of a piano-trio recording in the classic mold, from melody-rich opener “Adrift” to the closing title track, a cover of a romantic tune Parks grew to love on an LP by Rosemary Clooney and Nelson Riddle. Parks also drew inspiration for this album from the likes of Alice Coltrane and Shirley Horn (for whom Hart played); space and subtlety are a priority.
This double album, recorded in Vienna and in Riga in June 2015, includes all four of the chamber symphonies written in the last decade of Polish-born Soviet composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s life, plus a beautiful new arrangement – by Gidon Kremer and Kremerata percussionist Andrey Pushkarev – of the early Piano Quintet of 1944, heard here in a premiere recording. It is a recording which underlines the importance and originality of Weinberg’s music. For Gidon Kremer, “Weinberg has become a source of unlimited inspiration. No other composer has entered my own and Kremerata Baltica’s repertoire and program concepts with such intensity.” Weinberg’s chamber symphonies are Kremer says, “the most personal reflections of a great composer on his own life and his generation, like a diary of the most dramatic period of the 20th century.”
For his third ECM release as a leader, Chris Potter presents a new acoustic quartet that naturally blends melodic rhapsody with rhythmic muscle. The group includes superlative musicians well known to followers of ECM’s many recordings from New York over the past decade: keyboardist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, who each shine in addition to the leader on multiple horns. The Dreamer Is the Dream features Potter on tenor saxophone the instrument that has made him one of the most admired players of his generation in the striking opener “Heart in Hand” and such album highlights as “Yasodhara,” as well as on soprano sax (“Memory and Desire”) and bass clarinet (the title track).
A year after his impressionistic, critically-lauded ECM debut Into The Silence, trumpeter Avishai Cohen s Cross My Palm With Silver introduces a program of new pieces which put the focus on the ensemble, on teamwork, with a quartet of the highest caliber. The adroit, almost telepathic interplay among the musicians allows Avishai Cohen to soar, making it clear why he is one of the most talked-about jazz musicians on the contemporary scene. All of these people together are my dream team , says the charismatic trumpeter of fellow players Yonathan Avishai, Barak Mori and Nasheet Waits, who share his sense for daring improvisation and his feeling for structure. I feel we're in a perfect place with the balance. It's open and there s so much room for the improvisation to take the music any place we can.
Born in Argentina to an American father and Irish mother, guitarist Dominic Miller was raised in the U.S. from age 10 and then educated there and in England. Now he lives in France, though he has toured the globe for the past three decades. Aptly, Silent Light Miller’s ECM debut, featuring him solo and with percussion accompaniment has a very international feel, with the Latin influence strong in such pieces as “Baden” (dedicated to Brazilian guitarist-composer Baden Powell). “Le Pont” has an early 20th-century Parisian air, while “Valium” evokes Celtic tunes in the vein of Bert Jansch and “Fields of Gold” is a hushed instrumental take on one of Sting’s best-known ballads.
Armenian-American violist Kim Kashkashian, one of the major musical voices of ECM New Series, introduces a new duo with Russian composer-pianist Lera Auerbach. Their first recording together features Auerbach’s viola and piano version of Dmitri Shostakovich’s often playful 24 Preludes op. 34, and Auerbach’s own, darker, sonata for viola and piano, Arcanum. Lera Auerbach says, “Arcanum means ‘mysterious knowledge’, and I was fascinated by the inner voice within each of us, some may call it perhaps intuition, some maybe guided meditation, but there is some knowledge that we have, which we may not necessarily verbalize or rationalize, but that allows us to see the truth, to be guided, to seek answers.” Auerbach wrote her sonata for Kashkashian: “There is a quality of life-or-death-intensity to her performing, which is rare and wonderful.”
The second ECM New Series album to fully showcase pure-toned Estonian vocal group Vox Clamantis and its artistic director/conductor Jaan-Eik Tulve is devoted to compositions by their great countryman, Arvo Pärt – whose music has been the most performed globally of any living composer over the past five years. This album – titled The Deer’s Cry after its first track, an incantatory work for a cappella mixed choir – is also the latest in an illustrious line of ECM New Series releases to feature Pärt’s compositions, the very music that inspired Manfred Eicher to establish the New Series imprint in 1984.