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JIŘÍ STIVÍN: Alchymia musicae


F1 0044     [8595017404429]
TT - 59:52     released 5/1995

Musical commentary to the Renaissance vocal compositions
1. ECHOES - motifs from the madrigal "Echo"
by Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594)
bass flute, saxophones, piano, drums, vocal quartet
2. MOURNING - motifs from the madrigal "Weep, o mine eyes"
by John Bennet (c.1570-1614)
alto flute, piano, vibraphone, cello, vocal quartet
3. INVITATION TO THE DANCE - motifs from the villanella "Chi la Gagliarda"
by Baldassare Donato (c.1520-1603)
flute, piano, drums, vocal quartet

II. COOKING SOMETHING UP I - The jazz kitchen
by Jiří Stivín, Gabriel Jonáš and Jiří Stivín jr.
baritone sax, piano, drums

III. THE METAMORPHOSIS OF TIME - A fantasy for flute and strings, with piano
by Jiří Stivín
flute, piano, string quartet

IV. COOKING SOMETHING UP II - The beat kitchen
by Jiří Stivín, Gabriel Jonáš and Jiří Stivín jr.
soprano sax, piano, drums

by Jiří Stivín
clarinet, flutes, ending, pipe, soprano sax, piano, drums, vocal quartet, string quartet

Jiří Stivín - flute, alto flute, bass flute, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet, pipe, ending
Gabriel Jonáš - piano
Jiří Stivín jr. - drums, vibraphone
Prague vocal quartet:
Milada Čejková - soprano
Agáta Čakrtová - alto
Richard Sporka - tenor
Michael Pospíšil - bass
Talich quartet:
Petr Messieur - violin
Jan Kvapil - violin
Jan Talich - viola
Evžen Rattay - cello

Jiří Stivín, masterly improviser and composer, alchemist on the borderline between composition and immersion in sound, between collage and fixed form, presents a new collection entitled THE ALCHEMY OF MUSIC. Stivín is indeed a remarkable alchemist, a true citizen of the Prague of Emperor Rudolph, that Prague obsessed by magic and the search for the universal panacea. Music offers one of the most powerful means to this end, as well as one of its unshakable illusions. For music, as Asafiev told us when he was still know as Gliebov, and as Vladimír Karbusický reminds us, is listened to by many but heard only by a few ... or by hardly anyone ...
I am sure there will be many listeners to this new Stivín recording, but I would like to offer a few remarks to those who seek more from it than flawless improvisation, imaginative invention, and the art of creating ample space for gradation with the minimum of sound and timbre. My paralipomena and suggestions:
... Note the transition between the fixed form of Mannerist madrigals and their background, with the unexpected beauty of tone effects, gradually or suddenly arriving in the world of the villanelle and the madrigal.
... Admire the background Stivín provides for these Mannerist hits. The word is appropriate, for the melodies are the essence of what Europe still considers a well-balanced, symmetrical and perfect melody linked with a rhythmic impulse originating ultimately in the dance.
... Do not miss the way Stivín often counts on his listeners' previous knowledge, while elsewhere he seems under the spell of first acquaintance with a melody from that marvellous age when stars like Orlando Lasso in Munich or Handl Gallus in Prague were bright, and the young Monteverdi was coming to maturity. Enchanted by the melodic line, Stivín creates around it exciting music that seems to take firm shape as we listen.
... Note the art of cutting into and out of the villanella or the madrigal without intrusive effect.
Summa summarum: Stivín's alchemy works in two seemingly opposite directions; while the varied material chosen looks toward our own day, its narrow stratum seems reminiscent of the nostalgia of the avant-garde in the sixties and seventies. The result is a remarkably coherent whole. How and by what means, we do not know, but the incredible has happened. In other words, Credo quia absurdum est, which can be interpreted to mean: I cannot but believe, since I cannot understand ... To be brief, despite the heterogenic material and the serious, and all of a piece.
Motto: Vivat Georgius Stivinus, optimus alchemistus Regni Bohemiae, verus novus Arcimbaldus musicae nostrae ...

Miloš Štědroň

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