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Remember me, my dear…
Jan Garbarek (soprano saxophone)
David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump (tenor),
Steven Harrold (tenor), Gordon Jones (baritone).
The Hilliard Ensemble
rec. live, October 2014, Chiesa della Collegiata dei SS. Pietro e Stafano, Bellinzona, Switzerland
ECM NEW SERIES 2625 (4817971) [77:40]

Recorded during the final tour The Hilliard Ensemble made in October 2014, Remember me my dear… appears 25 years on from the release of Officium, which was the first of a number of CDs recorded by Jan Garbarek together with The Hilliard Ensemble, including Officium Novum (review). The special atmosphere of that first recording and its subsequent releases has been quite influential, with works such as Andrew Smith’s Requiem (review) taking on the idea of an improvising saxophone soloist over voices.

This is a live recording with concluding applause, and there are a few coughs and the occasional bump as people move around, but production is good enough and this will stand as another fine addition to the Garbarek/Hilliard canon. Jan Garbarek is mobile physically as well as musically, so his reed rises and falls in the recorded balance in a track such as Procurans odium, but the programme is nicely ordered, with a satisfactory balance between ancient and modern. The greatest effect in this combination to my ears was always the contrast between the ‘simple’ spiritual atmosphere of medieval voices against which Garbarek’s carefully placed phrases created new chills. His own Allting finns has closer harmonies against which jazz inflected lines work well, but offer little by way of surprise. We probably shouldn’t have been expecting shock and innovation from this source by now, but the feeling of ‘more of the same’ has long taken over from that feeling of genuine discovery and exploration that came from that initial recording.

The best tracks here are those in which there is space to allow freedom for expressive development, such as the Sanctus, in which the saxophone answers antiphonally over the voices’ chords, extended at the end of each phrase to create a bed of sound for the soloist. There are magical moments as well. Arvo Pärt’s Most Holy Mother of God is performed without saxophone, with just the final chord serving Garbarek’s entry as a wonderful transition into Procedentum sponsum. The Hilliard voices are gorgeous in the constantly evolving counterpoint of Guillaume le Rouge’s Se je fayz deuil, with Garbarek’s sparing contribution a touching addition. The title track, a gentle Scottish ballad, forms a fitting finale, and a poignant farewell indeed.

Dominy Clements

KOMITAS (1869-1935)
Ov zarmanali [6:00]
Procurans odium [3:23]
Jan GARBAREK (b. 1947)
Allting finns [4:00]
Nikolai N. KEDROV (1871-1940)
Litany [9:00]
Dostoino est [3:16]
Sanctus [7:50]
Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935)
Most Holy Mother of God [4:11]
Procedentum sponsum [4:17]
Guillaume le ROUGE (fl. 1450-65)
Se je fayz deuil [6:17]
PEROTIN (fl. 1200)
Alleluia nativitas [5:09]
Hildegard von BINGEN (1098-1179)
O ignis spiritus [7:29]
We are the stars [5:19]
Antoine BRUMEL (c.1460-1512/13)
Agnus dei [6:10]
Remember me, my dear (16th century Scotland)

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