STEPHAN OLIVA / FRANCOIS RAULIN - "Tristano"
SOPHIE AGNEL / CHRISTINE WODRASCKA - "Cuerdas Cinq Cent Trente-cinq"
Emouvance,

www.emouvance.com

Supposing that the two piano formation is one of the more difficult to put together for various reasons [costs, logistics, ego, etc.], these two CDs enlighten the listener with the way a proper piano duo record should sound like. Over the years, there has certainly been a shortage of this type of an ensemble. In fact only a handful of piano duo records were ever brilliant enough to garner listener's attention. Certainly among these, we can consider the radiance of Marilyn Crispell and Irene Schweizer's 'Overlapping Hands - Eight Segments' [FMP] and Mary Lou Williams and Cecil Taylor 'Embraced' [Fantasy]. On all planes, these stood as the measures of a great duo piano record.

Stephan Oliva and Francois Raulin have a thing for Lennie Tristano's piano work. Enough so, that 'Tristano' is their first CD out of a batch of two they'd recorded to the memory of this great pianist [the other one 'Sept Variations sur Lennie T ristano' was released on Sketch]. Calling this a tribute record in a truest sense would be an utter lie.

Only five out of the fourteen tracks are Tristano originals, with the other ones being the duo's originals [with the exception of course of 'You Don't Know What Love Is']. The thing is the duo is not interested in paying tribute to the memory of Tristano, but rather wants to use Tristano as a diving board from which to dive deep into their pool of intellect and style. Speaking of style, it's amazing to hear how well each of these pianists completes the other one's thoughts and lines. Once one is done, the other one picks up the pacing just before the last one has finished. Whether this is mind reading or whether both players simply understand each other on a higher level is not important. What matters is the freshness of their delivery, the light and unobstructed approach and the graceful and exuberant work.

The lack of swing is nothing unusual considering Tristano broke off with tradition and featured a good amount of dissonant and off-colour chord progressions that put the swing factor on the back-burner. This is not a project that just anyone could have tackled, so it's great to see that true Tristano scholars brought their own, unique sensibilities to the table and cooked a meal from scratch. 'Tristano' is a hardy, home-cooked meal that you long for after having too much junk in the system. The beauty of Sophie Agnel's and Christine Wodrascka's duo CD 'Cuerdas Cinq Cent Trente-cinq' is its intensely humbling nature. It's almost as if both players wished to underplay their skills and understate their true capabilities. Sophie Agnel has shown her talent for prepared piano work in the past, while Christine Wodrascka has demonstrated her abilities as the pensive and articulate [though under-recorded] player [for proof, I'll refer you to 'Vertical' ' her solo FMP recording]. The meeting of these two is in fact an awe-inspiring and eye-opening event. While Wodrascka retains the same sort of pensive improvisational genius that has made her a favourite to my ears, her playing gets new colouring when Agnel steps in. With preparation inside her piano [wooden blocks, metal pipes, sheets of copper, who knows?], her clicking strokes are coarse and remind me in moments of Keith Tippett's solo Mujician records from the 80's. While these clicks emerge, Wodrascka improvises with guttural shyness around the chaos around her. It's almost as if both players were in a world of their own. I'm not saying there is no communication happening here [for there's plenty of that], it's just that each player sounds so intent on driving her own unique vision forward, the unity that may have been created feels somehow sadly lost. Otherwise, this is another rare duo piano disc that will surely stand the test of time.

Tom Sekowski


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+ Keith Fullerton Whitman - Multiples
+ Otomo Yoshihide - Guitar Solo
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+ erikm/tetreault/otomo - trace cuts
+ Beta Erko - I'm OK. You're OK.
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+ Brendan Murray - Resting Places
+ Shannon - Tchort Vee Scoont Folk!
+ Balkan Sevdah - Ramizem
+ Drudkh - Liebiedynyj Szliak
+ Eta Carinae - 3
+ Heiko Voss - Two Sides
+ Vitalic - OK Cowboy
+ Vessel - Resist
+ Alex Under - Dispositivos De Mi Granja
+ Total 6
+ Asmus Tietchens - Formen Letzter Hausmusik
+ Sovacusa - Centerpoint
+ Shawn Rudiman - Synthesexual
+ Recloose - Hiatus On The Horizon
+ Porn Sword Tobacco - Explains Freedom
+ Nice Nice - Yesss!
+ Mum - Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK
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+ Misc. - Like Morning In Your Eyes
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+ Hazardous Materials
+ Joe Lewis - The Return Of Joe Lewis
+ Kschzt - The Earth's Hum
+ DJ Koze - Kosi Comes Around
+ Mark Hellner - Marriages
+ Gonzales - Z
+ Jose Gonzalez - Stay In The Shade
+ Jose Gonzalez - Veneer
+ Gimmik - News From The Past
+ Gimmik - Load Error
+ Frog Pocket - Gonglot
+ Folie - Eyepennies
+ Renato Figoli - Let Fernando In
+ Richard Davis - Details
+ Cyne - Evolution Fight
+ Cobra Killer & Kapajkos - Das Mandolinenorchester
+ Bovaflux - Where There Was Nothing
+ Autechre/The Hafler Trio - aeo3/3hae
+ Alter Ego - Transphormed

- - - - - - - - -

+ NODERN - Nodern
+ PHIL MINTON / VERYAN WESTON - WAYS OUT EAST, WAYS OUT WEST
+ AUTECHRE - Untitled; AUTECHRE / THE HAFLER TRIO - aeo3/3hae
+ IRENE SCHWEIZER - Live at Taktlos
+ FIELDWORK - Simulated Progress
+ SATANICPORNOCULTSHOP - Zap Meemees
+ HARRY BACKLUND - Remembering Harry; ROLF BILLBERG - Altosupremo; LARS GULLIN - Alma Mater ' Alma Almah; ENAR JONSSON QUINTET & SEXTET - Gothenberg 1965 - 1969; LARS-GORAN ULANDER TRIO - Live at Glenn Miller Café
>> STEPHAN OLIVA / FRANCOIS RAULIN - Tristano; SOPHIE AGNEL / CHRISTINE WODRASCKA - Cuerdas Cinq Cent Trente-cinq
+ ALEJANDRA AND AERON - Porto (Folklore fragments volume 2)
+ THE REMPIS PERCUSSION QUARTET - Circular Logic; LESLIE KEFFER - Represents
+ STEFFEN BASHO-JUNGHANS - Unknown Music II
+ UTON - Whispers from the Woods
+ FLOROS FLORIDIS - F.L.O.R.O. I; F.L.O.R.O. II

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+ Poezja bez muzyki - wiersze Antye Grye-Fuchs (AGF)