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Takase, Aki / Paul Ayumi : Hotel Zauberberg (Intakt)

Pianist Aki Takase and violinist Ayumi Paul's 1st collaboration is an 18 movement suite for violin and piano blending composition and improvisation, with 11 movements from Takase and 5 written with Paul, plus Mozart's "K. 1 minuet in G major" and the Preludio movement from Bach's solo violin partita in E major; an absorbing set of recordings inspired by the writings of Thomas Mann.

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product information:

UPC: 7640120192440

Label: Intakt
Catalog ID: INT244
Squidco Product Code: 24144

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded January and May 2014


Aki Takase-piano

Ayumi Paul-violin

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Artist Biographies:

"Aki Takase ( ) (born January 26, 1948) is a Japanese jazz pianist and composer.

Takase was born in Osaka and started to play piano at age 3. Raised in Tokyo, Takase studied classical piano at Toho Gakuen School of Music. Starting in 1978, she performed and recorded in the US. Her collaborators included with Lester Bowie, Sheila Jordan, David Liebman, and John Zorn. Her first Euopean appearance was in 1981 at the Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany. She instantly became one of the most sought after musicians, who was touring constantly the main international jazzfestivals.

For many years, she has been working with her husband Alexander von Schlippenbach, as well as with Eugene Chadbourne, Han Bennink, Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Fred Frith and others, and in duets with Maria Jo‹o, David Murray and Rudi Mahall.

In various projects, Takase has dealt with famous jazz musicians: Duke Ellington (1990), Thelonious Monk (1994), Eric Dolphy (1998), W.C. Handy (2002), Fats Waller (2004), and Ornette Coleman (2006).

In 2002, Takase recorded with writer Yoko Tawada. Takase had read some of Tawada's poems, and, as the writer reported, she "started composing melodies and settings for my texts. When we got together, I read my poems in the same way that I always read them out loud. Aki played, listened carefully to the poems, and started improvising." In later performances, Takase used more unconventional instruments when accompanying Tawada.

Since 1987, Takase has lived in Berlin."

-Wikipedia (

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"Ayumi Paul is a Berlin-based violinist, composer, and artist who presents her work in concert halls as well as in spatial installations and performances for museums and galleries. Experimenting with multiple forms, she embodies a genre transcending practice while developing site-specific work and concert programs that engage philosophical, environmental and socio-political phenomena within a holistic context. In recent years she has focused on developing her practice by investigating the possibilities of installation and the aural environment.

Projects of the 2016/2017 season include the presentation of I HEAR LIGHT (sound installation/ performance) at Kunsthalle Osnabrück; "To the birds- Concerto di Natura" at Villa Lena (concert/installation) developed in collaboration with visual artist Sarah Illenberger; several solo recitals with works by Johann Sebastian Bach and new works written for her by Leonie Roessler, Elliott Sharp and Richard Reed Parry; and performances of "Solo for Ayumi" by Ari Benjamin Meyers at Esther Schipper Gallery. Works in progress include FORGIVENESS (co-direction/composition/performance) together with dancer Iyar Elezra and a commissioned work by composer Hanna Hartman.

In 2015, the critically acclaimed Hotel Zauberberg, a duo recording with world renowned jazz pianist Aki Takase, was released on INTAKT Records. She also founded Amaebi, a duo for violin and turntables with media artist Achim Mohné.

Ayumi Paul studied violin at Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin and violin and voice at Indiana University. Her teachers have included Brigitte Schoen, Ursula and Werner Scholz, and Mauricio Fuks. In 2003 she made her solo debut at the Berlin Philharmonic and since played at halls including Barbican Hall London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Salle Pleyel Paris, Tonhalle Zürich; and festivals including Aldeburgh Festival, Bahrain Music Festival, Holland Festival, Nuits De Fourviere, Grec Festival De Barcelona, and Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Museums she performed at include the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, MAXXI Museum Rom, Blockhouse Gallery Tokyo and Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ayumi Paul performs on a violin by Giovanni Baptiste Gabrielli from 1750."

-Ayumi Paul Website (

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track listing:

1. Ankunft 1:12

2. Der Schnee 3:47

3. Analyse 3:00

4. Was Ist Die Zeit? (1) 2:34

5. Hans 4:42

6. Ewigkeitssuppe 2:40

7. Eulenspiegel 2:47

8. Menuett, KV 1, G-Dur 2:54

9. Peerperkorn 2:07

10. Partita Nr. 3, BWV 1006, Preludio 3:50

11. Veranderung 2:12

12. Donnerschlag 6:20

13. Was Ist Die Zeit? (2) 1:49

14. Frau Chauchat 4:14

15. Vetter J. 2:16

16. Zauberlied 2:18

17. Was Ist Die Zeit? (3) 2:21

18. Finis Operis 1:26
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The project 'Hotel Zauberberg' arose out of pianist Aki Takase's and violinist Ayumi Paul's shared admiration for the writer Thomas Mann. It mostly consists of notated compositions, with some improvised parts as well. Aki Takase penned eleven of the eighteen pieces; another five are collaborations with Ms. Paul. Additionally, there are adaptations of a Mozart Minuet and a Bach Partita. An avant-gardist drawing on tradition, Ms. Takase has never been shy of musical contacts that draw out her tendencies toward stylistic variety. As a pianist, she's got claws, finesse, and, most of all, a sense of humor. Aki Takase and Ayumi Paul's first collaboration combines a light-footed intelligence with a sense of the abysses of the 'Magic Mountain', which turns into a world-theatre of love, illness and death."-Intakt

"In the past when I have written about the pianist Aki Takase, it has been about her imaginative approaches to the efforts of major jazz greats of the past, such as Duke Ellington and Eric Dolphy, through her recordings for Intakt Records. Her latest effort, which was released today, has taken her far beyond the domain of past jazz, not to mention present and future. The title of her new recording is Hotel Zauberberg, and those who know their German literature will probably immediately recognize the connection to Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain.

If this music had to be classified, the best label for it would probably be "suite for violin and piano." Takase's partner in this project was the violinist Ayumi Paul. While there are some improvised passages, most of the music has been notated. The suite has eighteen movements, eleven of which were written by Takase and five written collaboratively with Paul. The remaining two movements are the K. 1 minuet in G major, usually attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Preludio movement that begins Johann Sebastian Bach's solo violin partita in E major (BWV 1006).

From a literary point of view, Mann's novel poses a particularly interesting challenge to musical interpretation. In his monumental treatise Time and Narrative, the philosopher Paul RicÅ"ur drew a distinction between a story that takes place in time and one that is about time. He examined The Magic Mountain as a representative example of that latter type. (Another of his examples was Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.)

Music, of course, can only take place in time; so Takase had her work cut out for her in trying to take on a narrative whose subject matter includes the nature of time itself. It thus seems appropriate that three of the movements of her suite are entitled "Was ist die Zeit?" (what is time). Each of these involves spinning out a relatively sustained melodic line, and in the third movement that line emerges as a hocket exchange between piano and violin. This seems to be indicative of the overall approach, viewing disciplines of the past to shape music-making in the present, as a means of paralleling Mann's use of time a subject matter.

In that respect the performance of K. 1 is particularly representative. It is one of those instances in which improvisation is part of the mix. Takase plays all sections of the minuet with repeats, using the repetitions as an opportunity to add embellishments. However, those embellishments are a heady blend of the sorts that Mozart himself might have added and those reflecting Takase's own more contemporary approach to playing the piano. A similar spirit can be found in the cadenzas that Aziza Sadikova composed for the cello concertos of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, about which I wrote at the end of last year.

Taken as a whole, this is definitely a fascinating piece of music. Takase has managed to be as compellingly imaginative in her practice has she has been in her theoretical motives behind this project. This is not just an impressive duo performance for piano and violin. It may yet deserve to be added to the chamber music repertoire for performance by other musicians."-Stephen Smoliar, Examiner, USA

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation and Experimental Forms
Duo Recordings
Stringed Instruments
Piano & Keyboards
New in Improvised Music

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