Aug 26 2014
The current release in the ACT Music Duo Art Series pairs up violinist Adam Baldych and pianist Yaron Herman. Both are fresh off previous recordings on the same label (Baldych with Imaginary Room and Herman with Alter Ego) in which they each displayed an impressive virtuosity and a talent for evoking dramatic intensity. Both of those recordings had the musicians in larger ensembles. The New Tradition puts them in the intimate setting of a duo collaboration.
There is a strong folk music presence at work here, but it’s vaguely expressed… a sort of homogenized mix of influences that allows the artists to move in directions without boundaries, while simultaneously keeping the spotlight on the quality of their musicianship. It’s not a far stretch to compare this style of music to that of the quartet Oregon… musicians who as much as anybody were influential in coining the term World Jazz. Furthermore, The New Tradition hits upon a similarly exquisite serenity typical of an Oregon release… tranquil, yet active in just the right ways and often to great effect.
“Riverendings” comes right out of the gate with that strong folk presence. It’s a song that announces that tranquility and dramatic surges will be the order of the day. It’s a proclamation that holds true through the entirety of the recording.
“Legenda” and “Letter for E.” display the Baldych device of the grand theater, of unabashed dramatics. Herman shows on these tracks that he is able to take the baton from a huge Baldych solo and apply some elegance to the song without breaking the continuity. And it’s a pleasant development that Herman takes on that role, as he has proven himself just as capable at firing off the big notes for the dramatic builds.
But it’s not all about Big Sound. On “June,” Baldych shows he’s more than just melodic bombast when he sticks to pizzicato for the duration of the song, the sound of his violin’s pinched strings weaving seamlessly into the melodic lines of Herman’s piano. Their rendition of Krzysztof Komeda‘s “Sleep Safe and Warm” possesses all the distant warmth and latent spookiness that made it so successful in the soundtrack to Rosemary’s Baby.
Both heartbreaking and lovely, “Lamentation of Jeremiah” challenges from both ends of the emotional spectrum. “Relativities” lays it on even thicker, upping the dose on both qualities. “Canticles of Ecstasy” goes for elegance and doesn’t let go once the duo has it in its embrace.
Swinging in the opposite direction, Baldych and Herman unleash on “Quo Vadis,” exploding with intensity and balancing things out after a series of tunes situated at the peaceful end of the spectrum.
An enjoyable recording, good for both quiet moments and active ones, and a great opportunity to hear a conversation between two talented musicians emerging as forces on their respective instruments.
Your album personnel: Adam Baldych (violin) and Yaron Herman (piano).
Released on ACT Music.
Here’s a review of Baldych’s previous release, Imaginary Room , which I still get back to from time to time. Jacob Karlzon is the pianist for that session, which is a nice treat. –> LINK
I’m very surprised to discover that I never reviewed Herman’s Alter Ego. I was sure that I had. It makes me suspicious that I have a first draft out there somewhere that I never wrapped up and published. While I look into that, here’s where I made his album one of my eMusic Jazz Picks –> LINK