Friday 19 May 2017

Martynas Levickis at Club Inégales

Martynas Levickis at Club Inégales (Photo Frederique Bellec Photography / Club Inégales)
Martynas Levickis, Notes Inégales, Peter Wiegold; Club Inégales
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on May 18 2017
Star rating: 4.5

The young Lithuanian accordionist joins with composer Peter Wiegold's club to create some electric music making

Cheng Yu and Christina Forshaw of Notes Inégales at Club Inégales (Photo Frederique Bellec Photography / Club Inégales)
Cheng Yu and Christina Forshaw of Notes Inégales
(Photo Frederique Bellec Photography / Club Inégales)
Our return visit to Peter Wiegold's Club Inégales could not have been more different from our first visit (see my review). The format was the same, even some of the pieces were the same, but everything was entirely different because the line up of musicians had changed and the club (directed by Peter Wiegold and Martin Butler) is very much about music in the moment. So on Thursday 18 May 2017 we heard the club's regular band, Notes Inégales with Martin Butler (piano), Joel Bell (electric guitar), Christian Forshaw (bass clarinet/saxophone), Hyelim Kim (taegum), Cheng Yu (pipa), Simon Limbrick (percussion) and Peter Wiegold (director and synthesizer), alongside the Lithuanian accordionist Martynas Levickis. The club was full to bursting point, with many Lithuanians in the audience, but there was still a chance to sample the excellent Indian food on offer and get a drink before the main events of the evening.

Things opened with a piece from Notes Inégales, directed by Peter Wiegold. The line-up of the band was an eclectic mix of musicians, Wiegold commented that there were Korean, Chinese, classical and jazz musicians along with 'one or two of unknown provenance'. We started off with Peter Wiegold's Changgo changgo one, where the rhythmic drum provided a framework for the circling of the other instruments, the performers making space for each other so that the taegum (a bamboo flute) and pipa (similar to the lute) really came through the textures, and there was even a striking duo between pipa and saxophone. This combination of traditions and the forward motion of the music made me think of a caravanserai with its intersection of West and East. The conclusion of the piece included a remarkable group cadenza.

Martynas Levickis with Joel Bell of Notes Inégales at Club Inégales (Photo Frederique Bellec Photography / Club Inégales)
Martynas Levickis with Joel Bell
(Photo Frederique Bellec Photography /
Club Inégales)
Martynas Levickis began his solo set with an arrangement of a Lithuanian folk-song, in which the rather melancholy song was given a series of remarkable transformations which not only showed of Levickis' tremendous technique but made for some wonderfully affecting music. Next came a piece by the Spanish accordionist Gorka Hermosa, Fragilissimo, one which seemed to take accordion technique to its limits. After starting with a high note sustained until the wind died, the first section used a great deal of non-pitched sounds, using remarkable (to a non-accordionist) technical effects to create vividly atmospheric music. Later on, when pitch came in there was some very fast finger-work, and jazz influences, creating something exciting, difficult yet really fun, and it finished with Levickis speaking in dialogue with his instrument. Finally a piece of Astor Piazzolla, though as Levickis pointed out Piazzolla's instrument was the bandoneon and he disliked the accordion. Levickis gave us an exciting and sexy version of Libertango.

For the final set, Martynas Levickis joined Peter Wiegold and Notes Inégales for a set which included a further pair of Wiegold's pieces alongside more Piazzolla. First off Wiegold's Changgo changgo two, again the drum formed a fundamental over which the other instrumentalists repeated musical cells to create something exciting and involving. There was a lovely moment with the two oriental instruments in dialogue with a deep bass clarinet and according, and then time seemed to stop as individual solos appeared in suspended animation, until the music gradually disappeared from view. Next was Piazzolla's Escualo, an exciting sax-led tune over a strong rhythmic bass with more relaxed episodes with a rhapsodic feel, then we got a free recapitulation of the material when the players demonstrated their wonderful freedom of interaction.

Peter Wiegold and Notes Inégales at Club Inégales (Photo Frederique Bellec Photography / Club Inégales)
Peter Wiegold and Notes Inégales at Club Inégales (Photo Frederique Bellec Photography / Club Inégales)
Wiegold described his Changgo changgo four as 'a bit folksy' which it was indeed, but there was also a very big sound from the band, and even a big solo for taegun, the whole creating some lovely textures. Piazzolla's Melody in A minor was a highly atmospheric piece, especially in the way this version included the oriental instruments, giving us some stunning playing. Wiegold's Rabindranath Tagore-based piece Immortality started with a lovely taegun solo, before the others joined in to create haunting yet complex textures, leading to a stunning climax from which the accordion emerged alone at the end. The evening ended on a strong note with a fabulous group improvisation, funky and mystic, which rose to a fine climax to send us on our way happy.

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