German pianist and Euro Free Jazz stalwart Georg Graewe in his first solo release in more than a decade, a remarkable set of succinct compositions balancing astonishing technical skills with beautifully expressive playing, presented in several series of "stills" and "stories".
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Label: Random Acoustics
Catalog ID: RA CD 028
Squidco Product Code: 21046
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded on December 21st and 22nd, 2010 in Bochum, Germany by Ansgar Ballhorn.
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1. Breathing Spells 2:25
2. Fountain Rhythms VII 1:55
3. Pavane 5:27
4. Cloudy 4:17
5. Under Glass 4:10
6. Tarnished 2:47
7. I 3:52
8. II 3:15
9. III 5:55
10. IV 5:06
11. V 2:07
12. Stains 1:33
13. Streaks 1:44
14. Bandeaux 1:23
15. In Secret 3:43
16. A Tale 4:06
17. An Incident 2:56
18. A Tale Continued 4:42
19. A Ballad 4:00
20. I 3:31
21. II 4:00
22. III 4:38
23. Afterthought 1:18
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"Right from the start, Stills and Stories, pianist Georg Graewe's first solo disc in more than a decade, proves one thing: this man's brain works quicker than yours. So do his fingers. His feet, hands, and inner life just might as well. Not that speed counts, mind you. But when you dive into this dense, elusive, and, ultimately, riveting 2010 recording from Bochum, Germany, you sense that Graewe, back in his hometown, is pushing things to the limit: his own resources, his listener's ability to absorb art, and, at 79 minutes, the limitations of the compact disc itself.
Stills and Stories is like a walking book - a seemingly discursive, digressive, travelogue. In this case, the grounds are Graewe's keyboard - a Bösendorfer set up by Thomas Henke - the lens, his technical know-how, coupled with a sometimes stark, sometimes oblique relationship to emotive music-making.
Graewe leads you in at light speed - hence, the title of the opener, "breathing spells." It is intense, and it can be (in the best sense) punishing: the internal allusions, the outward suggestions, the infinitely alert, microscopic explorations of line and rhythm. On a gut level, Graewe's control inspires awe. Your expectations are constantly being rearranged; it's hard to take everything in. It isn't especially dissonant music. It just flies away from you very quickly.
Yet, despite this early physical display, Stills and Stories is often deeply intimate, and incredibly focused; this isn't some wayward recital. After the opening, a three-piece segment titled "Afternoon in Coloured Frames," there comes a second sweep of pieces ("Thumbnails"). Graewe is now pensive, patient, and, in the first of three parts, "under glass," delicately exploring motif - Motive A is declared, then immediately put "under glass."
The recording is divided into seven of these larger bundles, with shorter sections inside. There are 23 pieces in all; nothing exceeds five minutes. Each overarching section has its own direction - "Moods, Modes and Manners," for example, or "Rhyme and Discourse." The cumulative effect is reflected in the disc's title: these are "stills" and "stories."
In the end, everything we've come to know about Graewe's approach is here: the infinite variations in feel and tone and color; the clipped quality to his delivery; rumbling, racing two-hand drama; a near obsession with minutiae (slight shades in sound, tiny shifts in patterns); the blurry line between predetermined and improvised forms; and, among other things, an abiding fascination with every little sound his keyboard might make.-Greg Buium, Point of Departure
"Georg Graewe pianist, composer born 1956 in Bochum/Germany ... began composing and performing professionally at the age of 15. He has since been leading a variety of ensembles - ranging from trio to chamber orchestra formats - which have involved some of the leading instrumentalists in contemporary musics. His compositions, which include chamber music and works for symphony orchestra as well as scores for theater productions, radio drama and video, have been performed and broadcast around the world.Graewe has been performing and recording with Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Dave Douglas, Phil Minton, Roscoe Mitchell, Barry Guy, Mats Gustafsson, Robert Dick, Barre Phillips, John Butcher, Paul Lovens, Michael Moore, Hamid Drake, Ken Vandermark, Mark Dresser a.m.o.His chamber opera "Kopenhagen" (based on the play by Michael Frayn) was produced by OPER KÖLN (Cologne Opera House) in 2003. His videocantata on Albert Einstein's travel diaries ("alle kennen meine visage") was premiered at the Jewish Museum Berlin in September 2005. And his second opera "Quicksilver" ( a commisison by Semperoper Dresden) came out in November 2006. He is currently working on his third opera "Barbara's World", which will be staged as a coproduction of Theater Luzern/Switzerland and Theater Bonn/Germany in 2010."
Get additional information at Point of Departure
• Show Bio for Georg Graewe
"Georg Graewe began composing and performing professionally at the age of 15. He has since been leading a variety of ensembles - ranging from trio to chamber orchestra formats - which have involved some of the leading instrumentalists in contemporary music. His compositions, which include chamber music and works for full orchestra as well as scores for films, theater productions, radio drama, and video, have been performed and broadcast around the world.
Graewe has had a long-standing trio with Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger and US-based percussionist Gerry Hemingway since 1989. He has also performed and/or recorded with Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Dave Douglas, Phil Minton, Roscoe Mitchell, Barry Guy, Barre Phillips, Hamid Drake, John Butcher, Robert Dick, John Butcher, Mark Dresser among others.
Over the last 10 years, he has also written three operas. Kopenhagen (based on the same-titled play by Michael Frayn) was produced by OPER KÖLN (Cologne Opera House) in 2003. His second opera, Quicksilver, (a commission by Semperoper Dresden) came out in November 2006. And his most recent opera, Barbara Strozzi oder die Avantgarde der Liebe, was staged by Theater Luzern in Switzerland in 2010 and Oper Bonn in Germany in 2011.
Since 1999, Graewe has been closely associated with CNMAT (Center for New Music and Audio Technology) at UC Berkeley. From 2002 - 2007, he taught at Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin.
In 2010, Graewe curated a series of 27 events that presented different aspects of resonance between music, poetry, visual arts, and science as part of the European Cultural Capital RUHR 2010. A catalogue plus DVD edition documenting this project has been published on his own Random Acoustics label."-Nuscope Records (http://nuscope.org/musicians/georg-graewe/)
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