murmúrios |cs170








































TonArt is a nine-piece ensemble (strings, winds, electronics) that's worked with Braxton, Rowe, Parker, etc. though I think I've only heard them rarely. They're rather busy, in a skittering, sliding kind of way (not so very loud), far more so than some other freely improvising nonet, say, Phosphor. But the phrasing is gestural in the manner classically influenced efi, which cloys things a bit for me. The second of the two cuts develops a decent head of steam as the group begins chugging a bit, creating some friction. Overall, not bad but not as good as I imagine they're capable of being. Brian Olewnic (Just Outside)

Hamburg’s TonArt Ensemble is a contemporary music ensemble that often works with free improvisors (I remember one particular CD with Evan Parker, a dozen years ago or so). Murmúrios came out of a composer’s residence with Portuguese violist Ernesto Eodrigues. Yes, his music usually consists in very quiet gestures, sonic murmurs. Yet, this album is rather on the active side. I.e. there is a lot to hear, even though the music is rather static and made of microevents. The relationships between the events are often blurry, which leave a feeling of randomness. Interesting, but I will have to listen again in order to grasp the compositional structure underpinning this long two-part piece. François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

Ernesto Rodrigues ne se refuse rien, en tout cas aucune rencontre, pas même celle forcément imposante du TonArt Ensemble que l’on entendit jadis auprès d’Anthony Braxton, Vinko Globokar, Peter Kowald, Evan Parker ou Keith Rowe.
A son tour, alors : le violoniste évoluant faiblement à l’archet en opposition aux interventions brèves et éclatées de l’ensemble : d’abord des souffles dispendieux et puis une note de clarinette met un terme aux ébats et, de l’empêchement, naît une autre saveur. L’improvisation se fait répétitive et compose à force d’entasser des feuilles de murmures – tuba et saxophones sont maintenant de la partie. Alors, de frêles percussions commandent un autre développement : les musiciens s’accordant sur un plus grand volume en congrégation affolée.
La seconde partie de Murmúrios, de s’en trouver changée : le vindicatif Rodrigues faisant maintenant face à un drone installé par un accordéon puis à une poignée de larsens. Les conséquences de telles confrontations sont diverses : bruyantes, sévères, accablantes ou apaisantes, mais toutes malignes – luttant souvent contre le seul usage microtonal. Ainsi, le violoniste aura eu raison de faire le voyage jusqu’à Hambourg. Guillaume Belhomme (Le Son du Grisli)

TonArt Ensemble is a collective of free improvising musicians founded in Hamburg in 1989 and they have collaborated with Evan Parker, Braxton, Fred Frith just to name a few. Ernesto Rodriguez, I think you know him for his many works on Creative Sources, after having being invited in Hamburg for a workshop, the collaboration with this ensemble took to this interesting result. We're speaking about a release featuring two long suites. The first moves slow but really dynamic, for example it amazed me how after some object falls on the ground the intensity suddenly flows away to slowly return on the "crime scene". Considering the ensemble features many bowed instruments as well as many horns you can imagine now and then the compositions really sounds. Approaching to the nineteenth minute horns start growing but as for the "fallen object" episode what follows is a new silent-phase. In this continual and gentle up and down alternation they never go for a real explosion. Differently from the previous chapter, the second episode starts with high pitched notes and other loud sounds, always really balanced but even if they silence after a while, the second composition is so full of this high pitched notes and even if sometimes it really go beyond the listenable limit I think this one is the most interesting of the two compositions. Low notes alternated with high notes, solo voices and coral working together in the same track and loud cyclical parts conquering the scene. Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)

As much a part of the necessary future of notated contemporary as well as improvised music, Hamburg’s TonArt Ensemble brings the discipline of New music, graphic notations and spatial structures to experimental performances. This impressive two-movement suite links the disciplined nine-member ensemble with input from Lisbon-based violist Ernesto Rodrigues, who regularly collaborates with many of Europe’s most accomplished Free musicians.
Collaboration is the key here, since rather than being a soloist standing apart from this democratically constituted group, Rodrigues merely adds his sounds to those created by the rest of the string section of violin, cello and double bass. Other musicians who have worked with the group, which was founded in 1989, include British saxophonist Evan Parker and Austrian turntablist dieb13. Able to evolve a novel strategy for every situation, besides clarinet, saxophone and trumpet, TonArt Ensemble members also use such non-conservatory-approved sound-sources here as zither, prepared mandolin, ventil-horn, trompsax, sheng, tube, synthesizer, soundtable and electronics.
Aiming for the release that characterizes “Part 2”, the much lengthier “Part 1” works through variants as the exposition and development of the suite take shape. As atonal as it is legato in spots, the nearly 38-minute first section includes episodes that swell to full fortissimo and others which deflate to mere whispers as the punctured polytones are spread using staccato licks. With no designated soloist, each of the 10 players adds pointillist dabs to complete the sonic picture. Pressured undercurrents from the strings become sharpened spiccato pops and mandolin plinks, while horn polyphony divides among crackles and rolled tongue slaps, chirps and altissimo screams. These timbres not only cozy up to reverberating electrical wave-forms, but simultaneously also reflect other percussive textures. There are ricocheting door-stopper-like rebounds, bovine-like bellows from pedal point cello motions and col legno bass string slaps.
Still, when string section polyharmonies threaten to turn overly melodic, an off-centre harmonica-like whimper, blurry synthesizer growls, hollow tube blows and bass clarinet yowls keep the contrapuntal interface on course. Oddly enough, even when a sudden burst of turntable friction abuts bird-like reed yaps, the impulses are continuously connective rather than disruptive.
Slightly past the half-way mark mercurial connections solidify among the different sections. Zither and mandolin plucks move to slackened harmonies until superseded by col legno and wood pounding asides from the string players, whose bow pressure exposes additional partials and vibrations. While this string-advanced ostinato undulates beneath the section work, so to do brass brays and reed tongue slaps, shortly afterwards rubato brass triplets and reed yelps join swaying, intermingled string tones to provide the introduction to Murmúrios’ second movement.
As one fiddler – perhaps Rodrigues – stridently squeals, the others move in circular concordance, until the tonal centre gradually shifts, thickening percussive sequences that include animal-like lows, lawnmower-like buzzing and UFO-like oscillations from the electronics. Eventually after it seems as if every TonArter has pushed his or her instrument to its timbral limit, a pause foreshadows a reductionist harmonization as the soundtable adds further layers of vocal gurgles and dissected instrumental sounds. Despite this atonality, the piece moves chromatically to the end.
Filled with enough dissonance to give nightmares to conventional chamber ensembles, compositions such as Murmúrios, and its interpretation by the TonArt Ensemble must be part of this sort of music’s future so that it doesn’t ossify. Ken Waxman (JazzWord)

With a curriculum including names like Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, Keith Rowe and Evan Parker, TonArt Ensemble has been at the vanguard of orchestral improvisation for over twenty years. This set with Ernesto Rodrigues was put on tape in 2008, when the Portuguese violist participated in a workshop fellowship granted by
the City of Hamburg. Subdivided in two segments of 38’14” and 17’30”, the latter distinguished by an accentuated use of electronics in the initial stages, this music requires a global visualization of the instrumental wholeness rather than fixing ourselves to follow the different paths of the single voices. Not that this is unfeasible: for their unique nature, brass and reeds tend to result as more prominent in the mix, and the garrulous eccentricity defining a number of transposable spurts – enhanced by the contribution of instruments such as prepared mandolin and “tube” – is strictly connected with the sort of hiccupping wisdom that bonds apparently disjointed pitches in an advanced kind of acoustically unhinged choir. Speaking of which, it is also interesting to observe the rare instances in which the extreme fragmentariness of the contrapuntal foundation fuses its divergences into brief Oms amidst relatively stationary waters of droning strings. Instantly, the well-regulated mutual give and take between the musicians reprises, restarting a collective gasping that – although spoiled by percussive spikes and impermeable crumbles of cultivated noise – remains the crucial attribute of this fascinating work. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Depuis une vingtaine d'années maintenant, l'ensemble TonArt explore différente formes d'improvisation collective, à travers des partitions graphiques quelque fois, ou de manière spontanée à d'autres moments. Le collectif a déjà collaboré avec quelques uns des grands noms de la musique improvisée, de l'improvisation libre et/ou non-idiomatique, tout en explorant différentes instrumentations et formations possibles. Pour Murmurios, publié en 2010 chez creative sources, l'altiste portugais Ernesto Rodrigues est invité par neuf des musiciens de l'ensemble allemand: Georgia Ch. Hoppe (clarinette, mandoline préparée, objets), Robert Klammer (cithare, électronique, synthétiseur analogique, objets), Nicola Kruse (violon), Heiner Metzger (soundtable), Helmuth Neumann (trompette, ventil-horn), Thomas Niese (contrebasse), Thomas Österheld (clarinette basse), Krischa Weber (violoncelle) et Hannes Wienert (saxophone soprano, trompsax, sheng, tube).

La première improvisation de ce large ensemble, une pièce de près de 40 minutes, explore les timbres et les textures des différents groupes d'instrument et des différents modes de jeux, de manière uniquement acoustique. L'orchestre choisit ici de n'explorer que les propriétés des instruments traditionnels et acoustiques (hormis quelques légères interventions bruitistes, tout de même très sporadiques). Une masse de vents succède aux cordes pincées de manière percussive, le groupe se décompose au profit d'interventions personnelles très courtes, très pointillistes et intègre le silence à l'improvisation, pour petit à petit se diriger vers une improvisation de plus en plus forte, large et massive, avant évidemment de retomber dans des formes d'improvisations plus restreintes et plus calmes. Tout paraît un peu brouillon aux premières écoutes, car on trouve de nombreuses idées et de nombreuses esthétiques (atonales, répétitives, minimalistes, spontanées, mélodiques), mais au fil du temps, c'est un sens de la structure étonnant et équilibré qui se dégage. Autant d'éléments esthétiques utilisés en fait pour s'opposer et s'équilibrer les uns les autres.

Avec la deuxième pièce (qui dure celle-ci 17 minutes), l'ambiance est d'emblée plus intense. Une introduction avec des riffs de cordes pulsés, rapides et tendus, avant de passer à l'introduction du synthétiseur qui augmente grandement l'ambitus et les textures de l'ensemble. Ce dernier paraît en profiter pour tout lâcher durant cette improvisation plus urgente et spontanée, mais plus marquée par l'eai et les techniques instrumentales étendues. Des influences modernes et récentes, mais aussi plus anciennes, car c'est aussi l'esprit des improvisations collectives qui ont donné naissance au free jazz qu'on semble parfois entendre ici. Je pense notamment à l'urgence, à la véhémence, à la réactivité et à la passion des musiciens engagés dans cette improvisation vraiment puissante.

De la pure improvisation collective riche et variée, inventive et intense, qui parvient aussi bien à explorer des atmosphères très massives et puissantes, que calmes et aérées. Conseillé. Julien Héraud (ImprovSphere)

Founded in Hamburg in 1989, TonArt Ensemble is a democratic collective of free improvising musicians, here in collaboration with Portuguese string player and composer Ernesto Rodrigues. (Squidco)