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Alle menschen werden brüder
Folkwang Kammerorchester/Johannes Klumpp
rec. 2018, Kulturzentrum Immanuel, Germany

‘Originals and forgeries by and on Ludwig van Beethoven’ reads a subheading in the booklet, and that’s a valid explanation of what to expect from this unique CD. The four musicians constituting Uwaga! have wide preferences: Christoph König plays ‘more or less everything that can be played with his violin’ – jazz, orchestra literature, chamber music or punk rock. First of all he is an improviser. Maurice is a classically trained violinist but in his family trio they explored Eastern European repertoire. Miroslav Nisic is a classical accordionist but also a master in Serbian folk music, while Matthias Hacker ‘had his first gig on stage after the acquisition of his first double bass, following the principle of learning by doing’. He is at home in jazz, soul, funk and pop. There are many ingredients in their collective pallet. The Folkwang Kammerorchester Essen is specializing in Early Music and Mozart but explores most other areas as well, and in combination with Uwaga! they turn out to be kindred spirits.

So what does their joint music making sound like? Well, they are not easy to pigeonhole. The Moonlight sonata is hefty. Think Piazzolla at his most extrovert. You don’t immediately recognise Für Elise, it is fragmentised but it grows, just as the Moonlight sonata towards ecstasy. And so does Symphony No. 7, more specifically the second movement, allegretto with little of the funeral march character of the original. This is intense, aggressive music, hammering in the rhythm and it leads to a fugato finale. The Cavatina from string quartet No. 13 stands out from the previous titles by being soft and beautiful, played by the string orchestra. At ca 3:50 some percussion is introduced but the mood is still introvert. Alle Menschen werden Brüder (All men shall be brothers) is of course based on Schiller’s Ode that Beethoven set for the finale of his Symphony No. 9, but the composition here is by Christoph König. It begins softly, then a ticking percussion rhythm, pizzicato strings and it grows in intensity. Plucked strings also open the Ode in Beethoven’s version, but the main theme is only in fragments. When rhythm instruments and accordion are added the effect is rather oriental. The Allegro from the Pathétique sonata is elegantly swinging and rather close to the original. And the Adagio, presented by the accordion, is also rather straight. Then follows an improvisation but it is a laidback reading, inoffensive, and the second theme is presented by the string orchestra.

Partly this is rather impertinent treatment of music that for many music lovers is sacrosanct, but it is also thrilling and unpredictable and – very important – executed with total professionalism. If you don’t mind some challenges you will be in for a good hour of first class entertainment. I enjoyed much of it and will give it a second chance when off reviewing duty.

Göran Forsling

1. Mondscheinsonate [9:18]
L. v. Beethoven / Arr.: C. König
2. Für Elise [7:16]
L. v. Beethoven / Arr.: C. König
3. 7. Sinfonie [6:40]
L. v. Beethoven / Arr.: C. König
4. Cavatina [6:49]
L. v. Beethoven / M. Maurer
Original: Streichquartett Nr. 13, B-Dur, Op. 130, 5. Satz
5. Alle Menschen werden Brüder [6:50]
C. König
6. Ode an die Freude [9:17]
L. v. Beethoven / Arr.: C. König
Original: 9. Sinfonie – Text Friedrich Schiller
7. Pathétique Allegro [9:03]
L. v. Beethoven, The Prodigy / Arr.: M. Maurer
Original: Smack My Bitch Up
8. Pathétique Adagio [7:06]
L. v. Beethoven / Arr.: M. Maurer

Performers (Uwaga!)
Christoph König (violin, viola), Maurice Maurer (violin), Miroslav Nisic (accordion), Matthias Hacker (double bass)

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