Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Weaving their magic: Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt's From the ground up: the chaconne

From the ground up - O/Modernt, Hugo Ticciati - Signum
From the ground up: the chaconne - Bach, Pellegrini, Piccinini, Purcell, Bogdanovic, Marmen; O Modernt, Hugo Ticciati, Sam West; Signum Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 2 July 2019 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
A journey through the chaconne, with an eclectic mix of old and new woven into a single magical whole

Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt's recordings are never straight-forward and whilst From the ground up: the Chaconne on Signum Classics takes the chaconne as its basis, exploring the music's dance origins alongside Bach's 'Chaconne' for the Partita in D minor for solo violin and more recent work by Dusan Bogdanovic, there is much else besides. This is reflected in the diverse group of performers, Hugo Ticciati (violin, artistic director), Luciana Mancini (mezzo-soprano), Baba Israel (beat poet), Sam West (reader), Johannes Marmen (violin), Gareth Lubbe (viola/harmonic singing), Julian Arp (cello), Jordi Carrasco Hjelm (double bass), Cecilia Knudsen (viola da gamba), Alberto Mesirca (guitar, theorbo), Christoph Sommer (guitar/lute), Karl Nyhlin (guitar), Svante Henryson (electric bass), Henrik Mawe (piano), Leandro Mancini-Olivos, Nora Thiele and Else Bradley (percussion).

As ever there is a deeply philosophical strand to the the programme [see my review of O/Modernt's previous disc White Light, and my interview with Hugo Ticciati]. Taking the word ground at its multiple meanings, Ticciati mixes works on a ground bass with works which explore breath, the ground of our being.

O/Modernt's programmes mix diverse music to encourage us to listen in new ways and moving from dance-based 17th century chaconnes to Bach's violin solo gives us a very different perspective on Bach. But embedded in the 17th century sequence is Dusan Bogdanovic's (born 1955) 'Chaconne' from his Suite Breve. Tiny and somewhat looking backward to its predecessors, but still giving us a slightly different feel.

But what to do after Bach?

O/Modernt programmes always include an element of linking improvisation and here Hugo Ticciati, Johannes Marmen, Gareth Lubbe, Julian Arp, Jordi Carrasco Hjelm and Alberto Mesirca provide an aetherial pathway from Bach to Purcell, with Alberto Mesirca and Gareth Lubbe doing similar from Purcell to Johannes Marmen's Inside one breath, a new piece which continues the improvisatory feel and makes a significant use of silence, to striking effect.

The disc starts with Sam West reading Shakespeare, the passage from Measure for Measure which I forever associate with RVW's Serenade to Music, which moves via an improvisation into the sequence of chaconnes.  And the whole disc ends with chaconne and text, but in rather a different form. Here we have re-mixes of Purcell (including 'Dido's Lament') with Sam West reading and beat poet Baba Israel reacting to the music and to Shakespeare. Quite a seductive mix!

The performers are a diverse group, perhaps the most aurally distinctive contribution comes from Gareth Lubbe with his otherworldly Gareth Lubbe (also known as overtone or throat singing). Lubbe studied overtone singing in Tuva (in South Siberia) and his participation in the improvisations creates some magical timbres.

I could have listened to a whole disc of Luciana Mancini (here partnered by Christoph Sommer, Karl Nyhlin, Northa Thiele, Cecilia Knudtsen) singing these 17th century chaconnes. She brings an engaging freshness and vividness to these dance pieces, marched by her instrumental partners. Alberto Mesirca moves effortlessly from Bogdanov's chaconne from 2017 on guitar to Alessandro Piccinini's spirited Ciacona in partite variate on the theorbo.

Hugo Ticciati's version of Bach's solo violin chaconne is very personal, very free and very communicative, almost a solo meditation at the centre of this programme. The chacoone is a daring piece, it takes a dance movement over a ground bass, gives it complexity and then removes most of the ground bass, leaving it implicit. A complexity which is set in context by the earlier piece, Ticciati's free performance allows the work to breath, moving it away from pure dance and hinting at the breath which underlines this programme.

Johannes Marmen is the second violin on the disc, joining Ticciati for some of the improvisations as well as performing Henry Purcell's Chacony in G minor. He is also the composer of Inside one breath, performed by an ensemble of two violns, viola, cello, double bass, theorbo and percussion.

I enjoyed this disc immensely, it has Hugo Ticciati's trademark eclectic mix of apparently disparate items which come together into a thoughtful whole, linked by some magical improvisations. The best way to hear Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt is live, but this disc is the next best thing.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - 'Sound the trumpet' Do but note a wild and wanton herd (Act 4 Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice)
Sam West (reader)

Improvisation 'Ground'
Hugo Ticciati (violin), Johannes Marmén (violin), Gareth Lubbe (singer), Julian Arp (cello), Jordi Carrasco Hjelm (double bass), Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo), Elsa Bradley (percussion)

Domenico Pellegrini (dafter 1682) - Chiaccona in parte variate alla vera spagnuola
Christoph Sommer (guitar), Karl Nyhlin (guitar), Nora Thiele (percussion), Cecilia Knudtsen (viola da gamba)

Henri de Bailly (d1637) - Yo soy la locura
Luciana Mancini (mezzo-soprano), Christoph Sommer (guitar), Karl Nyhlin (guitar), Nora Thiele (percussion), Cecilia Knudtsen (viola da gamba)

Dušan Bogdanović (b 1955)- Chaconne (Movement 4 of Suite breve)
Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo)

Anonymous - Vuestros ojos tienen d'amor no sé qué
Luciana Mancini (mezzo-soprano), Christoph Sommer (guitar), Karl Nyhlin (guitar), Nora Thiele (percussion), Cecilia Knudtsen (viola da gamba)

Alessandro Piccinini (1566-c1638)- Ciaccona in partite variate
Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) - Ciaccona (Movement 5 of Partita No 2 in D minor, BWV1004)
Hugo Ticciati (violin)

Improvisation 'Being'
Hugo Ticciati (violin), Johannes Marmén (violin), Gareth Lubbe (singer), Julian Arp (cello), Jordi Carrasco Hjelm (double bass), Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo)

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)- Chacony in G minor Z730
Hugo Ticciati (violin), Johannes Marmén (violin), Gareth Lubbe (viola), Julian Arp (cello), Jordi Carrasco Hjelm (double bass), Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo)

Improvisation 'Breath'
Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo), Gareth Lubbe (singer)

Johannes Marmén (b 1980) - Inside one breath
Hugo Ticciati (violin), Johannes Marmén (violin), Gareth Lubbe (viola), Julian Arp (cello), Jordi Carrasco Hjelm (double bass), Alberto Mesirca (guitar/theorbo), Elsa Bradley (percussion)

Chaconne Ground in D minor 'remix'
Sam West (reader), Baba Israel (beat poet), Henrik Måwe (piano), Svante Henryson (electric bass), Leandro Mancini-Olivos (percussion)

Dido's lament 'remix'
Sam West (reader), Baba Israel (beat poet), Henrik Måwe (piano), Svante Henryson (electric bass), Leandro Mancini-Olivos (percussion)

Two Grounds in C minor 'remix'
Sam West (reader), Baba Israel (beat poet), Henrik Måwe (piano), Svante Henryson (electric bass), Leandro Mancini-Olivos (percussion)

O Modernt / Hugo Ticciati
Recorded at Air Studios, London, 8 April 2018; Musikaliska, Stockholm, Sweden, 18 June 2018; Wyastne Leys, Monmouthshire, 15-16 September 2018, Wathan Hall, London, 23 September 2018
SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD574 1CD [55.25]

Available from Amazon.

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