Uri Caine & Arditti String Quartet
Digital Recording at WDR, Kleiner Sendesaal, Funkhaus, Ko"ln, Germany, June 2009
Mixing and Editing at WDR, Ko"ln, Germany, January 2010
Mastering at WDR, Ko"ln, Germany, June 2010
This CD teams the avant-garde jazz pianist-composer, known for his controversial reimaginings of classical and romantic music, with the Ardittis, known for playing anything, so long as it's modern enough. Compared to a good proportion of the Arditti's repertoire, with an emphasis on fearful complexity and every conceivable extended playing technique, quite a bit of what they play here is relatively conventional, harking back to tame old conservatives like Bartуk and Stravinsky. Some of the pieces have an improvisatory feel of an exchange of ideas between strings and piano (though what appears to be a session photograph on the CD sleeve suggests that they are in fact notated); some have a strong rhythmic element, others are more fragmented and pointillistic, and little scraps of almost identifiable classical music surface from time to time as part of the texture; No.6 and parts of No.11 are the nearest to jazz reinventions of classical pieces; No.8 is the closest to a jazz piece per se. Caine's piano part runs the gamut between cascading figuration, jazz chords, improvisatory counterpoint to the string material, and brittle, modernist gestures. The booklet contains no information whatsoever on the music apart from reproductions of 12 abstract, somewhat cartographical oil paintings labelled with evocative titles and each one associated with one of the Caprices.
- Records International
The composer and pianist Uri Caine, the only musician to have ever received two ECHO Classical Awards and an ECHO Jazz Award (ECHO can be considered the German equivalent of the GRAMMY) and whose album Othello Syndrome received a GRAMMY nomination, is known for his unconventional adaptations of classical pieces and for his outstanding jazz music. Over the past fifteen years, Winter&Winter has produced twenty recordings with Uri Caine. In 2010 a pioneering new work by Uri Caine comes into existence in collaboration with the WDR, composed for a string quartet and improvising piano. Uri Caine's "Twelve Caprices" combine improvisation and new music. Caine crosses a road junction where improvisation and contemporary music meet and point in a new direction.
The "Twelve Caprices" were tailor-made for Irvine Arditti and his quartet, one of the most distinguished contemporary music ensembles. About three years ago Irvine Arditti and Uri Caine met for a dinner in London. Both musicians were very much interested in each other's work and were from the beginning open to collaboration. In 2009 Uri Caine wrote twelve musical pieces for the Arditti Quartet and piano. In summer 2009 Caine and the Arditti Quartet made the premiere recording at WDR in Cologne.
During the rehearsals for the recording, the great personal and artistic understanding between Caine and the Arditti Quartet emerged instantly. The decision to play together in one room without the usual possibilities of later corrections was made. Arditti preferred the option of playing live together, with Caine improvising. As a result, all of the recorded versions are different and it is almost impossible to make editing revisions afterwards. The moment of the recording counts and this special moment is of utmost significance for the musicians. This interaction, the game of action and reaction between the pianist and the quartet, is what Caine and Arditti were explicitly looking for. It is very rare to waive the possibilities of hidden controls, as we live under the rule of the so-called perfect recording made possible by digital editing. Caine and Arditti trust their artistic and virtuosic skills and risk the game without a net or double bottom. Composition and performance become one. Caine and Arditti complement each other perfectly.
Uri Caine wrote for Irvine Arditti a composition without adaptations or quotes from already existing compositions. Caine included motivic-thematic elements in his piece as well as parts of the twelve-tone technique. References to musical art before and after Schonberg are made, but not to a specific work. A basis is created not only through themes and variations, but also through rhythmical elements. The natural handling of different composition techniques and the incorporation of improvisation belong to the possibilities which developped again and were gradually reinvented after 1945.
"Twelve Caprices" by Uri Caine form a small part of a new chapter in music history. The interaction of serious music, entertainment music and functional, incidental music follows its course. Contemporary composers and executing musicians from different genres communicate and boundaries dissolve.
The young Japanese artist Mamiko Takayanagi provided twelve artworks for the visual presentation of this album. These oil paintings on canvas were created in the same time period as Uri Caine composed the "Twelve Caprices".
- Winter & Winter