Prezentare generala CD ECM Records Jan Garbarek / Hilliard Ensemble: Officium
Jan Garbarek - saxofon tenor si sopran
The Hilliard Ensemble:
David James - contratenor
Rogers Covey-Crump - tenor
John Potter - tenor
Gordon Jones - bariton
"Fearlessly searching for new conceptions of sound and not caring where he found them, Garbarek joined hands with the classical early-music movement, improvising around the four male voices of the Hilliard Ensemble. Now here was a radical idea guaranteed to infuriate both hardcore jazz buffs and the even more pristine more-authentic-than-thou folk in early music circles.
Yet this unlikely fusion works stunningly well -- and even more hearteningly, went over the heads of the purists and became a hit album at a time (1994) when Gregorian chants were a hot item. Chants, early polyphonic music, and Renaissance motets by composers like Morales and Dufay form the basic material, bringing forth a cool yet moving spirituality in Garbarek's work.
Recorded in a heavily reverberant Austrian monastery, the voices sometimes develop in overwhelming waves, and Garbarek rides their crest, his soprano sax soaring in the monastery acoustic, or he underscores the voices almost unobtrusively, echoing the voices, finding ample room to move around the modal harmonies yet applying his sound sparingly.
Those with nervous metabolisms may become impatient with this undefinable music, but if you give it a chance, it will seduce you, too."
"1994 was an intriguing year in music. Jeff Buckley had begun his tragically halted rise to fame with the debut studio album Grace; Portishead brought trip-hop to the mainstream with Dummy; Kurt Cobain shocked many of my generation with his suicide; Pierre Boulez won the Grammy for Best Classical Album with his Deutsche Grammophon recording of Bartók’s The Wooden Prince; and the wildly popular Chant by the Benedictine monks of Silos had taken the North American market by storm. And then there was Officium, a humble recording with the distinction of being the only ECM album I have ever seen advertised on television.
I don’t think anyone knew what to expect of its unique combination of soprano and tenor saxophones and choral skimmings from the 12th, 15th, and 16th centuries, but I can still remember the splash it created, selling the better part of a million copies. I made sure to buy mine on the day of its release, simply because of its label and its musicians, and continue to be mesmerized by its sounds to this day.
With so many ECM recordings floating through my CD player, it had actually been years since I’d heard this album before revisiting it for this review. I’m pleased to say that, despite the unwarranted flak it has drawn (which, as much as I can tell, is far less than the praise), Officium has aged beautifully and remains a pinnacle of nostalgia in my life as a listener, for it provided some of the most delectable nourishment imaginable at a time when my budding mind was ravenously hungry for new sounds."
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