Live recording February 13, 2009
Muziekgebouw aan't IJ, Amsterdam
with Metropole Orchestra
Despite his long history with ECM Records, Argentinian composer and bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi has never released a live recording until now. These four new compositions are separate but equal parts of a larger work; in essence, the concerto that is El Encuentro. They were recorded with the Metropole Orchestra under the direction of conductor Jules Buckley for NPS Radio in the Netherlands. The soloists are Saluzzi, his brother Felix on saxophone, and cellist Anja Lechner. El Encuentro ("The Meeting") is a series of musical short stories that ultimately become an entire narrative. The opening work, "Vals de los Dias," is a waltz that, in the beginning, lets its colors get shaped by strings bowed and plucked, overlapping in a dark, harmonic swirl before Saluzzi enters to play just the skeletal melody with traces of a folk song before they take over again; only this time, they evoke the composer's notion of tango. Lechner makes a brief appearance before the entire string section begins a melancholy series of recollections of the aforementioned melody, and Saluzzi returns in earnest. The composition eventually moves through progressions and regressions until it reaches a dramatic climax. "Plegaria Andina" borrows a theme from an earlier Saluzzi album, Andina, from 1988. Here it is bandoneon and saxophone that introduce the piece, with Lechner entering just behind them, creating a mournful, restrained interplay that lays the foundation for a much more elegiac backdrop when the orchestra joins them about halfway through. Together they plumb a depth that frames the narrative that the remainder of the work rests upon. It is simple, yet poetic and deeply moving. "El Encuentro," the title composition, is filled with numerous textures, nuances, and timbres. It is abstract and declamatory with a beautiful middle section where Saluzzi solos in counterpoint with himself. The work concludes with "Miserere," where fragmentary melodies of folk songs and Argentinian popular song are touched upon with reverence and a proper sense of nostalgia. But this the notion of absence is ever present in Saluzzi's playing in the piece. The orchestra, by contrast, moves from pastoral meditations to sweeping washes of romantic innocence to sorrowful, near-droning abstraction as Saluzzi and orchestra come toward one another in a dialogue that is filled with loss and memory, tenderness and resignation, that ultimately becomes a broken, fragmented, but finally joined-together whole.
All Music Guide
Dino Saluzzi's first live album for ECM finds the Argentinean bandoneon master at Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw, presenting new orchestral compositions. Dino himself is principal soloist throughout the recording, joined by Anja Lechner and brother Felix Saluzzi at points along the way.
The flowing music, with strings shadowing the movement of the bandoneon, extends the spirit of Dino's "storytelling" solo works such as "Andina" (to which the piece "Plegaria Andina" makes reference). Dino says, "a lot can be told using few elements. The music should not be too rational. It has to brim with innocence." "On 'El Encuentro'" writes Javier Magistris in the liner notes, "the collaboration with cellist Anja Lechner and saxophonist Felix Saluzzi adds a new chapter of beauty in a wider and more complex structure. The soliloquies of the three main characters intertwine prodigiously, like a naturally-flowing current, each voice attaining its greatest expressive splendour by interacting with the harmonic structures."
The project was set in motion by Amsterdam-based writer/producer Gustavo Pazos, who had visited Saluzzi in Buenos Aires in 2004 to prepare a radio portrait of the bandoneonist-composer, and got to hear some of Dino's works-in-progress. Holland's Metropole Orchestra subsequently expressed interest, and with the support of NPS Radio it was possible to present the music in Amsterdam. Pazos points out that the Metropole Orchestra has "fulfilled a major cultural role in the Netherlands" with its long history of encouraging musicians outside the classical mainstream.
"El Encuentro" marked a first-time encounter for composer and orchestra (and both the Metropole Orchestra and conductor Jules Buckley make ECM debuts here) but the cast of soloists draws on some long-standing playing associations, in the case of Dino and Felix more than 60 years of collaborations. They started making music together as children, and today Felix frequently works with his brother in Dino's "family band" projects, as heard on albums including "Mojotoro" and "Juan Condori". Felix also plays in a new group with Dino and cellist Anja Lechner, a trio whose formation was a direct result of the shared experience of playing together on "El Encuentro".
Anja Lechner has worked closely with Dino since the mid-1990s, beginning with the "Kultrum" alliance between Saluzzi and the Rosamunde Quartet, a collaboration which in several respects prefigured "El Encuentro". She has also toured widely in duo with the bandoneonist, and recorded with him on "Ojos Negros" in 2006.
"El Encuentro" (The Encounter) is released in time for Dino's 75th birthday on May 21st, 2010.
Earlier this year the Saluzzi brothers and Anja Lechner appeared as soloists with the Musikkollegium Winterthur, performing Dino's "Sinfonia Concertante".
In July 2010, Dino is the subject of a special ECM focus at the Atina jazz Festival in Italy. There, he will be joined on stage by Felix Saluzzi, Anja Lechner, John Surman, Palle Mikkelborg, Rosario Bonaccorso and UT Gandhi.