A, CH, E: 03.10.05 / D: 19.10.05
Amarcord Wien plays Satie
The music of the eccentric French composer Erik Satie is both accessible and radical in its own way. His distinctive sounds, the lack of drama and functional harmonies made a big impact on his composer colleagues and are seen as the introduction of the idea of ambient music. Satie himself is told to have shouted out „Do not listen to the music“ while he performed it.
Now we see Saties work through the eyes of Amarcord Vienna, a chamber music group made up of violin, cello, bass and accordion. They have adapted Saties music and have arrived at something much more than a mere transcription. The result on this CD is high quality chamber music, a sensuous and delicate sound stemming from all three: the arrangement, the playing and the state of the art recording.
Amarcord tilts the pieces into various directions, a lush Indian rubato section, a Bossa Nova feel, a tight Pop song with strings accompanying the corky accordion melody not unlike the strings on a late Beatles record. However, the core of their expression is coming from a classical tradition and a lifelong development of their sound on the instruments. All of the members of Amarcord - Sebastian Gürtler, Michael Williams, Tommaso Huber and Gerhard Muthspiel - play classical music in various orchestras and chamber music groups, from the Volksoper Vienna to the Hugo Wolf Quartet to the Klangforum Vienna.
The ensemble is tightly knit and spends long rehearsal periods to refine a group sound. The most amazing aspects of this are the crystal clear intonation and the distinct and often surprising timbres they create together.
It is worth mentioning that all sounds on this recording are played live without any overdubs. The snare drum sound in Pour sortir is created on the cello with a piece of paper between the strings, the Pan Flute Sound on Gnossienne 4 is the violin played in the highest possible register of the G String, the bass is sometimes detuned and played with mallets etc.
Amarcord Vienna has had similar working periods with the music of Piazzolla and Mussorgsky before, resulting in excellent recordings. With Satie being the first album on material records, they join a family of recordings that deal in some way with classical music, take it seriously but illuminate new regions. The joyful musicianship on this disc makes it a refined listening pleasure.
Wolfgang Muthspiel, September 2005