Boomkat Product Review:
Swedish composer Magnus Granberg's 10th set for Another Timbre is a delicate collaboration with Apartment House that prioritises sensitive improvisation, nodding to Schubert and Cole Porter in the process.
Growing up, Granberg studied the saxophone, immediately sensing an affinity for jazz and most formatively, discovering a passion for improvisation that remains with him to this day. At this stage in his career he concentrates on classical minimalism and mostly plays piano (he uses a prepared instrument on 'Evening Star...'), but the composer's jazz roots still lie at the heart of his process. The piece was inspired by Franz Schubert's 'Abendbilder' and 'So in Love' by Cole Porter, with the rhythmic elements coming from the former and the tonality ripped from the latter, but the way Granberg instructs his players to interpret the material is pure jazz. He's been trying to work out a way to control the improvisation of an ensemble without losing harmonic coherence for years, and has developed a method that allows the musicians to choose pre-written material in real time by listening and reacting to the other members of the ensemble.
On 'Evening Star...' he works with Apartment House for the first time, despite teaming up with Anton Lukoszevieze in the past. Granberg admits that working with such a capable ensemble was freeing - in only 10 minutes of rehearsal he was convinced they'd be able to handle his direction. And the results speak for themselves, the finished piece is dramatic and dynamic, but constantly evolving. Granberg's prepared piano drifts cautiously through the ensemble's restrained accompaniments, with Lukoszevieze on cello, Bridget Carey on viola, Simon Limbrick on vibraphone and percussion, Chihiro Ono on violin and Heather Roche on clarinet. It's patient music that rewards careful listeners; the more you're able to concentrate on the diaphanous notation, the more you come to appreciate the pregnant pauses and crucial negative space. Slow listening.