Recommended: Christian Wallumrod Ensemble – “Kurzsam and Fulger”


On ECM, the music of Christian Wallumrød was a modern classical built to scoop jazz up into its embrace.  It was rich with textures, alternating expressions of wry subtlety and diffuse imagery, and it always carried with it the promise of unconventional presentation.  So it’s been extremely gratifying to hear a stripped down version of his creativity since joining the Hubro Music label.

Wallumrød’s debut on Hubro was the lovely Pianokammer, a solo set of tunes that kept to the quiet side of things, and where every note was sublime.  There was an intimacy to the recording, a simple route to connecting with it, whereas on ECM, the beauty seemed to prefer being observed from a distance.

His newest, Kurzsam and Fulger, has Wallumrød expanding to a quintet formation, and yet, the music is still stripped down and full of intrigue.  With small doses of wind instruments, cello and percussion added to the mix, the result allows Wallumrød to reveal more of the connections between the complexities of his music and the simple melodies that lie at their heart.

The best example of this is “Langsam,” a composition where Wallumrød utilizes his technique of interspersing bursts of harmony with sparse passages where he throws out hints of melodic inspirations and the curious chatter of percussion.  But here and now, the music has an immediacy that wasn’t necessarily present before, and always feels within reach.  Just as intriguing is the supremely tuneful “Haksong,” a jaunty piece with a carefree demeanor that’s almost jarring in the context of the nuance and modulated intensity that marks so much of Wallumrød’s recorded history.  Of equal interest is that the composition also made an appearance on his solo album Pianokammer, and hearing how he originally expressed it with a heart full of melancholy and introspection makes the compare and contrast to his newest rendition that much more astonishing.

Some of the album tracks could almost be relegated to the status of “interlude” were it not for the fact that these kinds of passages are not uncommon in a Wallumrød work.  But to hear them stripped down and offering an economy of expressionism is more than a little fascinating in the grand scheme of things.  Wallumrød has previously displayed a talent for using silence to bolster his pieces with contemplation and intensity, and quite a bit of his past was creating music that was the perfect fit for quiet moments spent in quiet rooms.  But his new direction is one where he is having simpler conversations with a rich vocabulary, and the immediacy of the dialog is like that of shooting the breeze with an old friend.

Just a wonderful recording.

Your album personnel:  Christian Wallumrød (piano, harmonium), Eivind Lønning (trumpet), Espen Reinertsen (saxophone), Tove Törngren (cello) and Per Oddvar Johansen (drums, vibraphone).

Released on Hubro Music.

Listen to another album at the label’s Soundcloud page.

Available at:  Amazon | eMusic

And be sure to check out Wallumrød’s Pianokammer, too, as it’s an album that I continue to enjoy and continue to enthusiastically recommend.

Read more (LINK).