Kultrum: Music for bandoneón and string quartet
Dino Saluzzi bandoneón
Andreas Reiner violin
Simon Fordham violin
Helmut Nicolai viola
Anja Lechner cello
Recorded March 1998, Propstei St. Gerold
Engineer: Markus Heiland
Produced by Manfred Eicher
The relationship between Argentinian bandoneónista Dino Saluzzi and ECM’s mainstay Rosamunde Quartett has produced some of the most intriguing cross-culturalisms the label has yet to offer. Not so much a coming together of genres as it is an unraveling of possibilities within them, Kultrum manifests much of the latent orchestrations lurking within Saluzzi’s compelling solo outings of years past. The inaugural “Cruz del Sur” is utterly emblematic of the project’s fecundity, cutting strings from the cloth of Saluzzi’s distinctive sound and winding them into a singular amalgamation of rustling and stillness. At once dolorous and laudatory, the sound strays ever so gently into the ecstatic harmonies of “Salón de tango,” in which sparks of confluence abound at every turn. Here, as in much of the album’s hour-long recollection, Saluzzi asserts his rhythmic and melodic authority with a humble joie de vivre. Generally, the music dons solemn clothing, as in its most potent moments between Saluzzi and Rosamunde cellist Anja Lechner, giving us a foretaste of their untouchable Ojos Negros session some eight years later. Every color they mix is rendered lighter by the surrounding musicians. Brief dissonances either slide with ease or are slowed to the point of non-existence. “Miserere” provides brittle catharsis in a brewing fugal storm. Pizzicato statements flash like lightning without thunder. “El apriete” wrings the heart of its sympathy and rehydrates it with renewed life, as if to shield us from the mournful edge of the album’s remainder, which erases thin lines from a darkening periphery before folding in on itself to end.
Much like Ástor Piazzolla, of whom he is heralded as the only legitimate successor, Saluzzi cuts an unmistakable form in any auditory context. His reach is already so orchestral that the present expansion seems only nature. And while the musical talents thereof are as high as one would expect in an ECM recording of this caliber, the compositions themselves are the real stars here, leading said talents into new directions. This is an album that inhales in black and white, but exhales only color. Assuming we are able to approach it with a blank canvas in mind, who knows what images might come of it?