Sunshine Never Repeats

La Lavintse (INSUB.RECORDS insub.rec.cd12) is a new work composed by Cyril Bondi and D’Incise, the mainstays behind the Insub.Records label in Switzerland, and further evidence of their drift away from “pure” improvisation and towards composed music, a trend we’ve been aware of since 2018 or earlier. Choices / Melodies was one particular triumph, although it might not be composition in the conventional sense – what this duo favour is providing instructional texts to the players, and allowing a good deal of personal interpretation.

This may or may not be the template for today’s release, although the five-piece playing this – Clara de Asis, Christoph Schiller, Marina Tantanozi, Tassos Tataroglou and Mara Winter – are all evidently very gifted players and able to bring the right degree of restraint to this very taut but subtle work, while still allowing their personalities to shine through the chinks. At least two of them are also composers in their own right and have also been associated with former incarnations of the Insub Meta Orchestra, and it’s also good to see a strong gender balance in the group. The plan for the music – illustrated by a calming alpine nature scene printed in shades of blue on the front cover – is very simple, and described as building “an architecture of tones and subtle rhythmical elements”. The placement of tones is done very gently, each note landing as softly as a snowflake, and while repetition is evidently permitted within the framework of rules, it doesn’t dominate to the extent that it might with a Morton Feldman piece (although the music here is very reminiscent of same).

The other desired effect is equally simple, a combination of tones arising from the specific instruments, which are two flutes, an acoustic guitar, a trumpet, and a spinet. The spinet is a device which often braces me to prepare for complex and ornate music (I for one can’t seem to shake off its baroque influence), but here Schiller drops in his unobtrusive notes as if he were performing micro-surgery. I guess you could say the woodwinds are the most noticeable voices in the conversation, but I like it when the flutes achieve delicious blends with the trumpet tones, as surely as a watercolour artist blends two hues with a sable brush. Quiet, slow, pastoral – but not as severe as a Wandelweiser piece. From 9th March 2021.

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