Vera Kappeler & Peter Conradin Zumthor – Babylon-Suite (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 47:48 minutes | 808 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HighResAudio.com | Digital Booklet | © ECM
The ECM debut of the duo of Vera Kappeler and Peter Conradin Zumthor presents music commissioned for the Origen Cultural Festival. It is music dominated by low registers, dark hues. The Babylon referenced in the title is the Babylon of the Book of Daniel, the lion’s den, the young men singing in the fiery furnace, a place of perdition, a labyrinth… The inspirational starting point launches creative composing and improvising and the shaping of strange and poetic material which is much more than ‘programme music’ The “Babylon-Suite” is self-contained, autonomous. The piano and drums duo leaves spaces and ellipses for the imagination to fill. Kappeler’s pianistic touch and phrasing, most subtly detailed and underpinned by Zumthor’s melody-and-texture conscious drumming, draw the listener in, deeper into the dream.
Biblical texts provided the inspirational sources and creative catalysts for the musical suite featured on this debut recording of Swiss duo Vera Kappeler and Peter Conradin Zumthor. Commissioned by the ‘Origen Festival Cultural’, the Babylon-Suite was premiered in July 2012 in the reverberant cavern of the Swiss hydroelectric power plant at Tinizong and eventually recorded at Radiotelevisione Svizzera in Lugano in June 2013, with Manfred Eicher producing.
The artistic challenge presented by the Origen festival was to create a suite inspired by the “Book of Daniel”. When tackling the task and approaching the book’s tales of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel’s survival in the lion’s den, and the young men singing in the fiery furnace, Kappeler and Zumthor did not do so from a religious point of view, but rather with a vivid interest in the dramatic qualities of the texts. “The dreams of Nebuchadnezzar in particular seemed almost psychedelic to me”, says Zumthor. “We drew inspirational starting points from the ‘Book of Daniel’, which gave us a frame of thought and an atmosphere, but it was not our intention to literally illustrate those tales with our music,” Kappeler adds.
“The room at Origen had unbelievable acoustics”, says Peter Conradin Zumthor referring to the power plant at Tinizong, “but we knew that certain details would remain inaudible there.” However, at the recording session in Lugano the suite was given its definite form. In the course of the recording, a new sequence of the pieces was defined to mould an organic and dynamic dramaturgy.
Surpassing – and at times literally reversing – the traditional roles of piano and percussion, the two musicians engaged in concentrated dialogues, leaving spaces and ellipses for the imagination to fill. Kappeler’s pianistic touch and phrasing, most subtly detailed and underpinned by Zumthor’s melody-and-texture conscious drumming, draw the listener in and produce, as Peter Rüedi writes in his liner notes, “an exceptionally coherent overall composition of dynamic contrasts, sophisticated dissonances, aggressive give and take, towering phalanxes of chords, trills evaporating into irreality and overtones wafting gently away. The conflict between highly differentiated layers of sound and the maximum simplicity of folk-like or even childlike melodies is stupendous. This music is always focused on contrast; mighty crescendos expand and collapse into silence in dramatic symmetry. In such a sequency of opposites we find, notwithstanding all the earnestness and even the aplomb of the undertaking, a unique and distinctive wit”.
01 – Das erste Tier
02 – Tor II
03 – Tor I
04 – Ne Pidu Ja Do Lesa
05 – Annalisa
06 – Traumgesicht
07 – November
08 – Tor III
09 – Bontempi Var. I
10 – Bontempi Var. II
11 – Tor IV
Produced by Manfred Eicher. Engineered by Stefano Amerio.
Recorded in June 2013 at Auditorio Radiotelevisione, Lugano.
Vera Kappeler – piano, harmonium, toypiano, voice
Peter Conradin Zumthor – drums, toypiano, voice