The Scene of the Crime
No ‘difficult second album’ for Colin Currie’s new record label but instead a worthy successor to the label’s imposing inauguration (with Reich’s Drumming – 5/18) – a delectable combination of works for trumpeter and percussionist for which Currie is joined by Håkan Hardenberger. Most of the works were written for the two but the disc opens with a classic of the combination: André Jolivet’s exacting Heptade of 1971.
Rehearsing with Hardenberger, writes Currie in the booklet, is ‘intense’ (few words are spoken, apparently), while performances are ‘zones of feverish intensity’. This delicate and daring performance gives a clear impression of two musicians for whom verbal communication might well be less fertile than musical. The approach, in which instruments often associated with brash directness sound elusively poetic and mysterious, links arms with the elegance and erudition in Jolivet’s writing.
Those qualities are to the fore again in Tobias Broström’s somnambulant Dream Variations, in which distillation allows for new forms of integration between the instrumental groups. Another Swede, Daniel Börtz, proves in Dialogo 4 – Ricordo that the human vocal characteristics he so often unlocks in inanimate instruments are possible there in Currie’s skins as much as in Hardenberger’s trumpet. There is more tension in this journey and we feel the frequent stand-offs between the musicians. Brett Dean’s … the scene of the crime … refers to Shakespeare’s Hamlet (and is associated with Dean’s opera but doesn’t share any material), specifically the ‘trumpet and drums’ that are referenced in the text. It moves from desolation to a grooving dance, like the emergence of cooperative reasoning that is so elusive in the play. In between all these, Joe Duddell’s more obvious but no less interesting Catch is a tonic, and contains some of the most slyly brilliant playing of all. The album is captivating whether in joy or pain.