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Sivatag

Artist: Szilard Mezei
Szilard Mezei - Sivatag CD
Label: GyorFREE
Regular Price: $14.95
On Sale For: $7.48 
Year: 2008
Format: CD

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For the recording of the album Sivatag/Desert, in November 2006. in Novi Sad, in the studio "Vilenjak", Mezei managed to assemble ten musicians, mostly the members of his own ensemble and of some other formations. The musicians are divided into pairs: 2 flutists, 2 clarinettists, 2 brass winds (trombone, tuba), 2 strings (viola, cello) and a rhythm section (bass, percussion). One of the very concrete reasons for such an orchestration is the participation in the ensemble of the excellent Hungarian flutist Gergely Ittzés (with whose playing Mezei became acquainted in 2005 while playing with him within the scope of Szabados's ensemble MAKUZ).

The title of the first composition "Warszawa Sketch" reveals one of the sources of inspiration for this album: in October 2006 Mezei travelled to Poland with József Nagy's theater ensemble (where they performed a play "Philosophers" inspired by motifs from the stories of Bruno Schulz), and this brought him into closer contact with the kindred spirit of Lutoslawski, but also with the inspiring richness of Polish jazz and Polish modern theatre. In its dramaturgy, this composition leaves considerable space for free improvisation by the whole ensemble; by means of a rich variety of "non-regulated" noise, by the excellent use of silence and subdued sounds, Mezei stages the mysterious, obscure atmosphere of an impressive vision. The musical content reveals itself mostly in the deep, fractured noise and creaking of the Ervin Malina's double bass that creates the principal musical-scenic mood of the composition. The melodic sequence appears only at the end, in the vigorous playing of the ensemble that finishes in a long decrescendo, as the music slowly quietens and is simplified until only the breath of the flute remains.

"Vízfény (észak) / Waterlight (north)" starts with the minimalistically gentle and dreamy multi-sonority of the winds; the instruments gradually attach one to another and after a few minutes the composition begins to roll in a multiple sound-layers. From the densely interwoven sounds the airy solo of the Svetlana Novakovic's flute detaches itself, to be extended by Ittzés (alto flute); as the composition approaches its end, Márkos's cello becomes prominent, giving a melancholy depth to the sonorous iridescences of the ensemble.

The title of the last and lengthiest composition, which also gave its name to the album-"Sivatag/Desert"-leads us, as do the titles of many other of Mezei's compositions, to basic symbols, in this case in a range that spans from the sacral symbolism of the desert and its temptations to the waste horizons of contemporaneity. The polysemy reveals itself most evidently in the heterogeneous playing of the winds: the ear is faced with a constant alternation between the ethereal sound of Novakovic's and Ittzés's flutes, the fluid pensiveness of Asztalos's and Rankovic's clarinets, the unusual hollow sounds of Pápista's tuba and the stentorian sounds of Aksin's trombone. The composition can be divided into three movements of equal length, each one of them having its own theme, its own dynamics: while the first movement is all in rhythmical disjointedness (István Csík's unusual percussion-congos and bongos-immediately draws one's attention!) to which the broken solo passages link themselves, the second movement is of a markedly meditative-Oriental character, due primarily to the winds: Novakovic's flute, Pápista's tuba, and then Ittzés's flute which he exchanges for the piccolo during the solo! The third movement, in which there is a certain emphasis on (Hungarian) folklore motifs, attains-mostly by the entrance of the strings in the foreground (Mezei, viola, and Márkos, cello)-an ecstatic power of expression. The composition ends with the unison of two flutes. The horizon before us is closing - or opening?"-Neven Usumovic, 2007, from the liner notes

ARTISTS
Gergely Ittzes (flute, alto flute, piccolo); Svetlana Novakovic (flute); Alfred Asztalos (clarinet); Bogdan Rankovic (bass clarinet); Branislav Aksin (trombone); Kornel Papista (tuba); Szilard Mezei (viola); Albert Markos (violin); Ervin Malina (double bass); Istvan Csik (percussion)
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