Poignant, stirring & . . . gorgeous!
Ruins and Remains, a suite for piano, string quartet and percussion, was composed by Wolfert Breferode in 2018, to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Over time, however, it has come to embody meanings broader and more personal, with wide-ranging resonances. “At a number of levels, the piece has to do with grief and loss and learning to stand up again,” Dutch pianist Brederode says. There is a vulnerable but resilient quality to the music, as it hovers over its emotional terrain, with moods both bleak and guardedly hopeful. Highly sensitive playing by Brederode, percussionist Joost Lijbaart and the Matangi Quartet (increasingly regarded as one of Holland’s most adventurous string quartets), distinguish a special album recorded in Bremen’s Sendesaal in August 2021 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
For his fourth ECM release as a leader, following the acclaimed quartet albums Currents and Post-Scriptum as well as the trio record Black Ice, Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode introduces a very different, and very special, project. Ruins and Remains is a suite for piano, string quartet and percussion. Originally composed by Brederode in response to a commission for music to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the piece was premiered in November 2018. In the interim, however, it has come to embody meanings broader and more personal. “At a number of levels, the music has to do with grief and loss and learning to stand up again,” Brederode says. There is a vulnerable but resilient quality to the music, as it hovers over its emotional terrain, with moods alternately bleak and guardedly hopeful.
The musicians involved in the project have been friends since student days at The Hague’s Royal Conservatory. The Matangi Quartet, who have collaborated often with Wolfert Brederode in performances of his music for theatre, have meanwhile acquired a reputation as one of Holland’s most versatile string quartets, with a repertoire spanning baroque music, contemporary composition, jazz and more. (Lately they’ve been getting attention for their recordings of Schnittke, Silvestrov and Shostakovich.) Back in 2014, the Matangi Quartet included music by Brederode on one of their own albums, alongside pieces by Louis Andriessen and Chick Corea. As the Ruins and Remains project has progressed, the Matangi players have found increasing freedom inside it, also participating actively in its improvised sections.
Drummer Joost Lijbaart has worked across genres with Brederode since 2004 –playing jazz with Yuri Honing, and working in an improvising duo which strove to subsume individual identities in a single sound, “as if playing prepared piano together”, rather than percussion and piano duets. This sensibility finds an echo in the approach taken in Ruins and Remains.
“My goal is always for the music to be one thing,” says Wolfert Brederode. “I love to dive into the sound of the string quartet, and play as if part of that. I think with the quartet and with Joost we’ve found a special sound together which, in its way, is quietly radical.” Ruins and Remains has been mutating since its first performance. The idea of change is built into it: “Calling it ‘an evolving suite’ gave me the liberty to change pieces and add pieces as we went along.”
The process was accelerated during the session at Bremen’s Sendesaal. Violinist Maria-Paula Majoor notes that “the sound in the hall gives you the room to find the poetry behind the notes,” adding that Ruins and Remains had begun its life as an outgoing and rhythmical jazz piece and been transformed in the recording process into something else. We changed the soul of the music.”
In the collaborative work with producer Manfred Eicher, “new directions were opened up in the suite,” says Brederode. Transitions between written and improvised material became blurred: “We all focused on the blending of sounds and worked very much on dynamics.”
The result is a touching album of great subtlety, both texturally exploratory and deeply lyrical.
Wolfert Brederode, Joost Lijbaart and the Matangi Quartet play the music of Ruins and Remains at the Bremen Sendesaal on September 2, followed by a series of concerts in the Netherlands: Verkadefabriek, Den Bosch (September 24), Bimhuis, Amsterdam (October 15), Theater Lindenberg, Nijmegen (October 26), Theater ‘t Hof, Arnhem (October 26), Theater Junushoff, Wageningen (November 18), Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht (November 20), Paradox,Tilburg (November 25), Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam (December 3), Porgy & Bess, Terneuzen (December
More information: www.ecmrecords.com | www.wolfertbrederode.com | www.matangi.nl | www.joostlijbaart.com
Wolfert Brederode Piano
Maria-Paula Majoor Violin
Daniel Torrico Menacho Violin
Karsten Kleijer Viola
Arno van der Vuurst Violoncello
Joost Lijbaart Drums, Percussion