Misha Alperin/Arkady Shilkloper: Wave Of Sorrow (ECM 1396)

 

Misha Alperin
Arkady Shilkloper
Wave Of Sorrow

Misha Alperin piano, melodica, voice
Arkady Shilkloper French horn, jagdhorn, fluegelhorn, voice
Recorded July 1989 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

With Wave Of Sorrow, Misha (then Mikhail) Alperin began what has proven to be a fruitful relationship with ECM. Though the Ukraine-born pianist has but a modest discography on the label, each recording brims with the folklore of his sensitivity. Since this date he has spun a telepathic relationship with trumpeter Arkady Shilkloper, and the results on this duo album are as unique as their players. Alperin offers a set of ten original compositions, each, in spite of the intimate arrangement, a grand and sweeping thing. Not unlike label mate Richie Beirach, his architecture is ambitious in its scope and clarity yet rarely deviates from the warm embrace that births it. One hears this in the opening “Song,” to which Shilkloper adds the bay of a hunting horn. Like many of the pieces that follow, it smacks of tradition even as it shines with modern interpretation. Yet this is also a world of shadows, for in the title piece (one of the most affecting melodica solos you will ever hear) we can intuit a web of tortured histories and only hints of the happiness that may unravel it. Shilkloper arrives toward the end bathed in ECM’s plush reverb, seeming to hang from the tail of Alperin’s breathy comet like a child of the night. Still, this date is not without its fun. “Unisons,” for example, casts the two musicians in a decidedly vocal mold as they rap and tap their way through a cathartic romp. “Poem” similarly allows Shilkloper to come out of his lyrical shell into a full-blown dance. Alperin also offers up a few piano solos, of which “Prelude in Bb minor” is the most evocative—a shaft of moonlight through which the dust of a wanderer’s journey casts its sparkle. Other highlights include the simple yet ingenious motivic arcs of “Short Story” and Shilkloper’s distant mutes in “Miniature.”

The contradiction of the album’s title is that so much of the music springs to its feet, all the while harboring a matrix of oppression and exile. We hear this especially in the solo “Epilogue.” The atmosphere is dim yet also sparkling, as if it were a harsh present slumbering behind the illusory veil of a memory, fond and forever lost.

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