Mahler/Uri Caine Urlicht/Primal Light

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Mahler/Uri Caine Urlicht/Primal Light

  • Urlicht

Uri Caine’s post-modern provocation is unlikely to appeal to those for whom Mahler’s greatness resides in his ability to build symphonic structures from below-stairs material. The 11 extracts here, originally reworked to accompany a silent movie of the composer’s life but now standing alone, make up a suite of pungent caricatures, pointedly (sometimes reductively) ‘Jewish’ and mostly closer to jazz than anything else. What Caine has done is much more radical and controversial than anything in, say, Jacques Loussier’s Bach. Each shard is given a bizarre new slant, which means relocating it to a Broadway show, a dinner-dance in the Catskills, a jazz concert or a rock venue. The Adagietto from the Fifth survives comparatively unscathed, though cross-cut with unacknowledged samples from someone’s conventional recording of the Rondo-Burleske of the Ninth: this treatment is dedicated to the memory of the pianist Alan Marks. (Several names are dropped: the pocket Der Abschied is a tribute to the late Jacob Druckman and the whole thing is dedicated to George Rochberg.) Some of the jokes come off brilliantly, others less so.
The Munich-based Winter & Winter is a new, consciously avant-gardiste label and the disc is artfully packaged in a way that mainstream issues never seem to manage. Caine himself operates out of New York where the original performances, technically superb in every respect, were taped prior to mixing in Germany. While the project should appeal to admirers of Frank Zappa, ‘cutting-edge’ jazz and BBC Radio 3’s Mixing It, it won’t be every Mahlerian’s cup of bortsch.'

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