Dino Saluzzi: El Encuentro (ECM 2155)

El Encuentro

Dino Saluzzi
El Encuentro

Dino Saluzzi bandoneon
Anja Lechner violoncello
Felix ‘Cuchara’ Saluzzi tenor saxophone
The Metropole Orchestra
Jules Buckley conductor
Live recording February 13, 2009 Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam
Music supervisor: Gert Jan van den Dolder
Recording engineer: Gert de Bruijn (Dutchview)
Assistant: Per van der Zande (Dutchview)
Mixing engineers: Gert de Bruijn and Ronald Trijber (Dutchview)
Concert production and executive producer for the NPS: Gustavo Pazos
A production of NPS Radio in collaboration with ECM Records

El Encuentro depicts Dino Saluzzi as a composer willing to go wherever the stream of consciousness takes him. In this, his first live album, the bandoneón maestro joins Anja Lechner (cello) and brother Felix (tenor saxophone) before the Metropole Orchestra, under the direction of Jules Buckley, for a varicolored quatralogy. Because the bandoneón is practically an orchestra unto itself, pairing it with strings feels like an implosive rather than explosive stroke of sonic fortuity. This introspective dynamic is heightened by the asymptotic relationship between the soloists, who are fully present in Plegaria Andina. This piece revisits thematic material from 1988’s Andina in a braid of wind, branches, and leaves: each strand a traveler from a different corner of the world. Even when silent, the soloists float like an oar-less vessel bobbing to the pulse of tide. The ruminations of this piece are thus deeply aquatic and equally representative of the clouds they reflect.

The relationship between bandoneón and cello is the album’s main anchor, and takes root in deepest reef in Vals de los días. Like the program as a whole, its moods and melodies are in constant flux, its themes as fleeting as the air in Saluzzi’s bellows, the touch of horsehair on Lechner’s strings. Assailed by dances and memories, their vessels keel and spread their melodic passengers far and wide. There is abundance to be felt here, plucked like ripe fruit from a branch, squished between the toes like wet sand, and dunked like the baptized body into holy river’s flow.

Despite its massive proportions, the title piece comports itself with the delicacy of a spider. It is the most brooding piece of the four—one which, despite its peaks and gorgeous finish, wallows in a pool of shadows. Its final jubilations pick at a lone thread of light, unravel the tapestry of the night, and weave a new one into the Miserere that follows. The strings, robust yet tentative in their dynamic recession, are servants to the bandoneón, the latter a messenger sent from above. Its lungs exhale only peace, leaving no doubt that Saluzzi’s is a spiritual art.

Despite the number of musicians gathered here, El Encuentro is one of Saluzzi’s most intimate realizations, compressing the sweep of an epic film into the eye of a spyglass. Because the title means “The Meeting,” it is tempting to read the album as one large cycle. Closer listening, however, reveals the self-awareness of the compositions therein. They are not cardinal points on a compass, but rather corners of a world that share a plane only in maps. Their yearning is more than physical; it is environmental. They meet only in dreams, drifting farther out to the sea with every heave. Were it not for the applause, we might blissfully remain so, never to feel the touch of shore beneath our soles.

(To hear samples of El Encuentro, click here.)

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