TONY MARSH – Quartet Improvisations


The sense of guilt tormenting this writer when the eyes meet the hundreds of records still waiting on the desk turned into a renewed urgency to belatedly celebrate an unsung talent after reading that Tony Marsh left the planet on April 9, 2012. The analysis of the percussionist’s latest releases on this imprint had been scheduled for months; one of them – Stops, with Veryan Weston – will be dealt with very soon. More recent – though dating from nearly a year ago – is this fine offer, recorded at St. Peter’s Church, Whitstable. Marsh is accompanied by three artists – flutist Neil Metcalfe, cellist Hannah Marshall and violinist Alison Blunt – whose instrumental range naturally tends to the acute registers, the lone exception being Marshall’s rare ventures in lower regions. The players authenticate the expected high standards of skill, synthesizing the management of vulnerability and the keen ear necessary for fusing subtle nuances and transitory counterpoints in an ever-meaningful unbrokenness. The quartet’s inspection of the no man’s land separating slightly perturbed hush and fragile discrimination is carried out with a palpable respect of the dynamics of instantaneousness; flimsy textures and balanced timbral weights revolve around the same axis. While the spaces between the notes are generally ample and the volume never exceeds medium-to-whispered levels, there’s no risk of discontinuity in the music’s flux; Marsh’s total recognition of his partners is reflected in the almost circumspect manner through which he underlines ephemeral junctions and surrounds shivering pitches. The demonstration of an uncommon tendency to leave things untold when complete exposure is not an obligation, thus letting the listeners add their own inner suggestions.

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