Tristan Honsinger

A Camel's Kiss

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This CD on the house label of the Instant Composers Pool finds improvising cellist Honsinger in solo mode, performing as he does best a style of fractured but highly emotive avant-garde cello. His vocalizing in improvisation is a kind of subconscious moan that is charming and somewhat frightening to hear over the squalls of cello lyricism. He lets the instrument do the talking, in that his vocalizing is vague tonal accompaniment to his virtuoso string flurries. His performance is flippant, but by no stretch is it slapstick; his improvising is highly developed, and on this realization from 1998, he is captured in crystal-clear fidelity, and his performance is evocative of jazz, classical, folk, and avant-garde idioms, fields that he draws inspiration from then transmutes into his own unique instrumental language. Additionally, the cellist is involved in theatre and dance, and thus a narrative encompasses the entire recording that hints at a one-man operatic suite. Like the late Tom Cora, another master of solo cello improvisation with a deep love of folk and classical forms, his experimental approach is strangely accessible in that its melodic sense puts this music far from the often abrasive qualities associated with avant-garde music. Hence, pieces of J.S. Bach are hinted at and transformed, the mood of improvisational jazz similar to the Revolutionary Ensemble -- ecstatic melodies, a humorous diversion into folk melodies, then back into a jazz run. This recording captures all of the evocative emotional weight that a cello recital carries, but is lively and upbeat while simultaneously melancholic and introspective. It is the speed with which the performer can transform from these emotions which highlights his virtuosity on the instrument.

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