JOËL BONS (b.1952): Nomaden for Cello and Large Intercultural Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 03U061
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: This piece is essentially a showcase for Bons' Atlas Ensemble, which he founded in 2009 to bring together musicians from multiple different cultures in a kind of ultimate World Music fusion exercise. Perforce, they play repertoire especially written for them, as some material is notated, some improvised, and there is little pre-existing material for combinations of instruments from Iran, China and India, together with Western concert instruments, for instance. The premiss of the work is that the cello is the 'Nomad', travelling and meeting musicians from other traditions and harmoniously interacting with them. There are three types of movements; 'Nomad' in which the cello plays the same material in different presentations and combinations with 'ethnic' instruments; 'Passages' - brief linking expositions of the timbres of the traditional instruments, and what one might be forgiven for regarding as the actual musical content of the piece, longer, livelier, often dance-like and appealing episodes for various instrumental combinations. Such is the diversity of the ensemble that even at an hour the piece is more of a sampler platter than a full meal, but it is a tasty one with many intriguing and unexpected flavors, and never less than appetising, depending on one's tastes. The 18 crossover-fusion movements are lively and appealing, revealing commonalities between unexpected participants (like the witty movement in Salsa rhythm played by instruments that have probably never been associated with Salsa before). The work plays continuously, and is somewhat more than a sequence of unconnected episodes, as there is a kind of narrative; after the expository sections of ethnic fusion there is a movement that hesitantly begins in Western tonality, with the western concert instruments; the others join in and the remainder of the piece forms a sort of finale, with a greater sense of international co-operation than before. This leads to a vigorous, dancing climax, and an epilogue with reflective improvised and notated variations for the various groups of instruments. Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Atlas Ensemble; Ed Spanjaard.