Moderato Cantabile: Music by Komitas, Gurdieff, Mompou—Anja Lechner, cello; François Couturier, piano (ECM 2367)
After a decade of shared work in the Tarkovsky Quartet and an ongoing alliance in the Pergolesi Project, German cellist Anja Lechner and French pianist François Couturier unveil their new duo. The players approach the music from different vantage points: Lechner is a classical soloist with an uncommon interest in improvisation, Couturier a jazz musician travelling ever further from jazz. On Moderato Cantabile they present their own arrangements of works by three fascinating outsiders from the margins of music history – G.I. Gurdjieff, Komitas, and Federico Mompou. To differing degree their music reveals influences from the east, both in terms of relationship to folk traditions and religious music, and philosophically. A contemplative air pervades the session. The program has connections to Anja Lechner’s acclaimed account of Gurdjieff’s music on the earlier Chants, Hymns and Dances, but the new duo has its own identity, and time spent in Armenia has deepened Ms. Lechner’s understanding of the contexts from which the music emerged: her cello assumes almost a singer’s role in these pieces, exploring the strong melodies. François Couturier’s compositions function as both contrasting and complementary elements. As a player, François has a long history of working with Mompou’s music. He has been influenced, too, by his association with Anouar Brahem, and the sonorities of the Middle East are part of his palette.
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