• 1. PLEIONE (17:50)
  • 2. MEROPE (12:56)
  • 3. ALCYONE (10:21)
  • 4. STEROPE (03:14)
  • 5. MINTAKA (08:48)
  • 6. ALNITAK (10:44)
  • 7. ALNILAM (05:26)

Gocce Stellari

Cello – Marcio Mattos
Double Bass – John Edwards
Viola – Charlotte Hug
Violin, Mixed By, Mastered By – Philipp Wachsmann

If there were stars in the world of free improvisation, then the members of this quartet would surely be among them - four very distinctive and fluent musicians, who also have the talent to work together to produce a fifth distinctive and fluent entity, namely an improvising string quartet. The whole of their performance at the 2007 UNCOOL Festival in Switzerland is included, as well as some studio recordings made near London the previous year. These unamplified performances prove that here is still plenty of life in the violin family. 69 minutes.

Excerpts from sleeve notes:
When I first put this CD on and started to listen from the beginning, I didn't recognise the characteristic sounds or distinguish the 'voice' of each musician, although I know them all well and have had the pleasure of hearing them many times in various contexts. This was a thoughtful, rigorous and austere string quartet music, very focused and in a register (musical and intellectual) that seemed new to me. It was only towards the very end of the first long piece that I started to hear very small snatches of playing in which I really recognised Philipp Wachsmann's lyricism, Charlotte Hug's command of and fascination with textures, John Edwards' vitality and dynamic range and Marcio Mattos' resourcefulness. As I listened on through the CD, I continued to hear more that sounded new and less that was familiar, and it was very thrilling to listen to these new sounds and ways of interacting.
This made me reflect on the productive tension, in life and in music, between improvising and being yourself – not that these two things are diametrical opposites, but they do tend to pull in different directions, and are sometimes hard to reconcile.
It's evident that one is required to be literally oneself – and much beautiful music comes out of the plain joyfulness of people being and expressing truly who they are – but the thing that's specific to improvising is that it demands that the music be made afresh each time: the more aspects of the music are unique to that moment, the more improvised that music is.
This means that after working for a long time on improvising, the musician eventually comes up against the fact that the self that she brings to each new playing situation is still the same one. What to do? Clearly, it's possible to make novel sounds at random, but this is a bit of a lottery and means the musician has let go perhaps too completely of herself, her love and understanding of particular kinds of sounds, gestures, moods... and maybe risks letting go of her reasons for playing music in the first place.
On the other hand, there is a lot of excellent music made in which players remain frankly themselves and rejoice in an interaction that, though improvised, still has something familiar about it, like a stimulating family conversation.
What I hear on this CD is four people who have worked so long and hard on improvising, and are so brave and trusting of each other, that when they intersect here they leave their usual ways of being and playing behind and forge new ways, and completely new music, for the occasion. This balancing act, this apotheosis of communication, is what makes music indispensable to the human organism.


Album label: 
Release date: 
01.01 / 2009
Recording date: 
17.05 / 2007
Recording location: 
1-4 Poschiavo (2007) / 5-7 London (2006)
Artwork design : Charlotte Hug & Martin Davidson
Mastering engineer : Philipp Wachsmann & Martin Davidson
Producer : Martin Davidson
Recording engineer : Lara Persia & Philipp Wachsmann

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