Clarinettist Theo Jörgensmann (here on the G-low variant of the instrument) and violinist/violist Albrecht Maurer know themselves since 1992 and have been working conjointly in diverse settings, but only after two decades a disc comprising the fruits of their improvisations is finally released. Helped by the excellent quality of the recording, allowing us to perceive the finest details of the human component during the interplay, Melencolia is a very good album of off-the-cuff constructions enriched by musicianship of the highest calibre, tasselled snippets of instrumental visions perfectly framed in a “first take” context that almost looks implausible given the vivid exactitude of the music’s bulk.

Normally, the process of generating agile polyphony on the spot is encumbered by mental pictures that push trained instrumentalists towards the use of “what they know”, as well-camouflaged as this may be. It’s there that the ensuing interchange immediately loses the heterogeneous aura of novelty and braveness that defines genuine masterpieces. Jörgensmann and Maurer are still fresh enough to display enthusiasm and sentiment as opposed to academic weight; this sense of ingenious venturesomeness bathed in conspicuous technique prevails upon any conjectural doubt. The dialogues are constantly gripping, often exquisitely exuberant, at times blending what’s ethereal and what comes from the depth of the soil.

Timbrally speaking, the reed and the strings attractively consolidate in a textural palette containing shades of contemporary classicism with a few slightly jazz gradations, plus a pinch of evolved ritualism (Maurer’s vocal utterances are a significant colour in some of the tracks). Every moment sounds auspicious even in presence of cheerless moods, such is the level of sentience transmitted by the pair, in total control of the sound/space/listener triangular relationship. All of the above without a single episode of oily mannerism. A “laudamus” is deserved.

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