CATALOG nemu 004
Albrecht Maurer -
gothic fiddle voice
Norbert Rodenkirchen -
transverse flute, harp
contact / booking:
Recorded & mixed at Christuskirche Mülheim / Ruhr, May 2005 by Albrecht Maurer. Mastered by Reinhard Kobialka, Topaz Studio Cologne. Grafic Design by Christiane Resch. Produced by Albrecht Maurer.
Beauty is unearthed and unabashedly displayed throughout Hidden Fresco, the latest release from the German duo of Albrecht Maurer and Norbert Rodenkirchen. Their use of medieval instruments to explore contemporary sounds cultivates a fresh perspective on modern improvisation. The warm timbre of the instrumentation softens the edge of harsh dissonance while enhancing tonal resolve. There’s a sense of urgency that permeates the entire disc. Maurer and Rodenkirchen are not intent on wasting sonic space. From the frenzied opening notes of the title track to the passionate evocation of “Behind,” the duo is unwavering in their search for musical unification. ... Maurer and Rodenkirchen are both technical masters; their incorporation of percussive effects, chords, and rapid lines portray sympathetic artists who are able to push the boundaries of archaic instrumentation to express a full range of emotion.
John Barron - Jazzreview.com / 2007
"There aren´t many jazz recordings that include gothic fiddle or medieval flute in its repertoire, but the duo of Albrecht Maurer and Norbert Rodenkirchen don´t seem to be intimidated by that fact. This tapestry is a collection of improvised compositions that alternate between Eastern and Western music. ... Experimental, lurking and inquisitive, the music by Maurer and Rodenkirchen on HIDDEN FRESCO has many appealing layers to peal away."
George Harris - All about Jazz / Januar 07, USA
When most contemporary improvisers refer to early music, depending on their orientation, they probably mean the bop breakthroughs of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s or perhaps the historical foundation created by Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong in the 1920s.
But Albrecht Maurer and Norbert Rodenkirchen are atypical. Their take on early music dates from more than half a millennium before that. This unique concept involves melding modern sounds and styles with medieval instruments.
Although one is an acclaimed medievalist and the other an accomplished modern improviser, this isn’t as much a stretch as it may seem. While Köln-born Rodenkirchen is known for his membership in the Sequentia ensemble, he also spent time in pioneering German Free Jazz vibraharpist Gunter Hampel’s Coming Age Orchestra. Moreover, while the bulk of Aachen-born Maurer’s time is spent improvising with modernists such as American bassist Kent Carter, German drummer Klaus Kugel and Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos, the virtuoso fiddler also plays early music with prominent medieval ensembles such as Dialogos.
This is why Hidden Fresco is unique. While its 12 tracks utilize the most modern instrumental techniques, both men have chosen to perform these original compositions and improvisations while sticking with medieval instruments – transverse flute and harp for Rodenkirchen and gothic fiddle in Maurer’s case.
A further clue to their strategy lies in carefully examining three items: the CD’s title, Hidden Fresco; the artistic transformative qualities implicit in titles such as “Craquelé”, “Sfumato”, “Erosion” and “Tempera”; and the quote from Leonardo da Vinci’s Treatise on Painting that adorns the cover. Essentially, Leonardo posited that an artist viewing stained walls or common rock formations can “see” how to transform this material into diverse forms. Sonically rather than visually the German improvisers do the musical equivalent of that here. Utilizing particular instrumentation and timbres, they expose unexpected aural tinctures and colors.
Take the fiddler’s “Aura”, for instance, which features pealing col legno tones from the strings that coalesce into fiery stops from Maurer and resonating guttural breaths from Rodenkirchen. Eventually the sensation radiates key thumping percussion and descending sul tasto string lines. Alternately, the fully improvised “Erosion” – an appropriately da Vinci-styled title – suggests rock’s transformation with a harmonic convergence that results from ground bass-like pitches from Maurer encircling wraithlike, pinched flute tones. Transformation is complete when spiccato fiddle lines harden and Rodenkirchen’s tone darkens.
Elsewhere string technique variously suggests spiky old-time mandolin picking or rasgueado guitar fills. Not only do flute sounds include formalist legato and wheezy staccato breaths, but harp strokes can sometimes be compared to guzheng textures.
Leonardo cited the transformative power of music when in the Treatise, he compared his visual discovery with the sound of bells “in whose tolling your imagination hears and conjure up names and words”. With Hidden Fresco, Maurer and Rodenkirchen express similar phenomena in their own characteristic fashion.
by Ken Waxman Toronto 01/06