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Trio Lignum - Trialog
Johannes OCKEGHEM (c.1426-1495)
Missa sine nomine [27:35]
Zsolt SEREI (b.1954)
Dream Drawings (2004) [15:02]
József SÁRI (b.1935)
Trialogue [9:47]
Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585) transcribed by Ádám KONDOR (b.1964)
Felix namque (c.1564) [9:43]*
Csaba Klenyán (clarinet); Lajos Rozmán (clarinet); György Lakatos (bassoon); *Ildikó Vékony (cimbalom)
rec. October 2006 (all except Ockeghem), April 2007 (Ockeghem), Hungaroton Studio, Budapest
Experience Classicsonline

Here’s an enjoyable, out of the ordinary CD. An Ockeghem Mass played by a woodwind trio and a Tallis keyboard piece played by the same trio (with the addition of a cimbalom) are not things one encounters every day of the week (or, indeed every month of the year). Here they frame pieces by two contemporary Hungarian composers, the whole making an engaging and stimulating programme.

Of the two modern works, Serei’s Dream Drawings is the most interesting. It has an apt sense of being an indirect descendant of some of Bartok’s night music, though the representation of the sounds of nature is largely absent here, being replaced by a tracing of mental movements, of impulses and retreats, gestures and moments of stability. The whole has an air of dream, of shadows of completeness, of the interplay of emotions and memories, as a solo clarinet occupies the foreground for much of the piece’s length, before receding into the distance. The bassoon grows increasingly important and at the end of the work, after all the flurries of movement, all the passages of dialogue (and trialogue) there is a sense of unity and repose. Sári’s Trialog is an altogether less fluid piece, more solid in its masses, clearer in its construction. It is in three clearly distinguished parts, the innermost of these “acting almost as a slow movement”, in the composer’s own words, contrasting with the more rhythmically complex outer sections, the second of which recapitulates some of the material from the first. Trialog has a pleasing sense of momentum and a fair bit of humour in the way it exploits the textural possibilities of the trio.

Being a mass in three voice’s Ockeghem’s Missa sine nomine lends itself fairly readily to Trio Lignum’s instrumental interpretation. András Wilheim’s booklet notes insist that “the interpretation played here is not a transcription. Every note is the equivalent of a note in the original; there are no changes, interventions, cuts or substitutions”. Listening to it is fascinating, if not completely satisfying. Certainly it makes one concentrate on Ockeghem’s notes, stripped of their text as they are. And the resulting music is full of striking lines and gratifying harmonies. But quite how one should be listening becomes a distraction, I found. Should I listen to the second movement of this performance conscious that it is a Gloria or to the fifth taking account of the fact that it is the Agnus Dei? Should I have the text and significance of the music in mind, even though the text is absent? In any case, I suspect that only a listener who had no knowledge of what a Mass is, or of this music’s connection with the Mass, would find it altogether possible to listen to the interpretation by Trio Legnum  - beautiful as much of it is – without finding something distractingly odd about it, without being as aware of what they were not hearing as of what they were hearing.

No such problems with the gracious version of Tallis’s Felix namque, in which Ildikó Vékony adds her cimbalom to the sound of Trio Lignum in a performance of Tallis’s variations, a performance delicate and full of joy, a performance to which I have returned repeatedly since I first heard the disc. It might give some authenticists a bit of a nightmare, but I suspect that Tallis himself would have loved it! By combining the sustained notes of the wind instruments and the percussive sound of the cimbalom, arranger Ádám Kondor produces a gorgeous sound-world which articulates Tallis’s music quite delightfully. Felix namque makes an upbeat conclusion to a very individual programme.

Glyn Pursglove




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