Along Uncharted Routes
“Improvisation over standards from the Renaissance” is this CD’s explanatory subtitle. The standards are certainly there, from Lassus’s Susanne un jour to the Passamezzo antico via Une jeune fillette and Io son ferito. It’s true that the membership of this young Swedish ensemble is more than usually numerous and varied, and that the rich timbral palette creates a sympathetic impression. The star of the show is the trombone, which in several pieces is entrusted with the “diminutions” (ornaments) to these famous tunes. It should be said that what is offered is not always strictly speaking improvisation but sometimes written-out diminutions by named musicians of the day. We may accept these as a reflection of contemporary practice but when the members of Serikon try their hand at the same thing the results are not always so well executed.
The more extended pieces (particularly the first of the tarantella numbers) overstay their welcome and the iconic Susanne, which opens the recital, is taken too slowly: the soprano’s clarion tones sound rather strained, and besides, it’s a missed opportunity not to have given this most famous line to a cornetto able to improvise complex diminutions at will. The less familiar pieces fare better. The album concludes somewhat oddly with a solo piece for trombone by the young Swedish composer Aron Hidman; “oddly”, because the piece’s relation to the recital’s main premise is far from clear and its placement at the end seems rather apologetic.