Christian Hartmann

Die Abwesenheit des Igels Beim Einbrechen der Nacht

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Die Abwesenheit des Igels Beim Einbrechen der Nacht presents two separate encounters between pianist Urban Mäder and bassist Christian Hartmann. Each one takes the form of a suite. In "Die Abwesenheit des Igels" ("The Absence of the Hedgehog"), Mäder plays a grand piano prepared following John Cage's instructions for the "Sonatas and Interludes" (1946), while Hartmann uses a Baroque contrabass that he also prepares in a few tracks. The nine untitled parts of the suite are short and presented like snapshots. Each one develops only one or two ideas (percussive playing, resonance, muted playing, etc.) concisely and elegantly. The musicians, improvising over a predetermined canvas, show obvious pleasure in exploring the sonorities of their instruments. This liveliness gets lost in the second suite, "Beim Einbrechen der Nacht" ("At Nightfall"). The two suites answer a yin/yang concept. This one has five parts (also untitled) that are significantly longer, looser in structure, darker in mood. They are performed on unprepared instruments and they make more extensive use of the classical and jazz idioms. The bass solo in the second part and the microscopic, silence-filled sounds of the last part provide the best moments of the suite. Overall though, it pales in comparison to the bright first half. In "Die Abwesenheit des Igels," the different backgrounds of the musicians (Hartmann a jazz musician, Mäder first and foremost a contemporary music composer) don't matter since they meet on uncharted land. In "Beim Einbrechen der Nacht" the dichotomy becomes too obvious, almost caricatural.

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