John Zorn

Masada Anniversary Edition, Vol. 4: Masada Recital

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Sylvie Courvoisier and Mark Feldman had been collaborating in various projects for a number of years, and had developed a wonderful rapport before being invited to participate in John Zorn's 50th birthday celebration at Tonic in September of 2003. Feldman had been working the Masada songbook in various groups for years, but Courvoisier's experience with these tunes was somewhat limited, having played only on the Voices in the Wilderness compilation with her group Mephista (as far as Masada tunes go, that is). However, her inexperience with this songbook would never be suspected upon listening to this recording. Courvoisier and Feldman operate extraordinarily well together, able to go from the most aching lyricism to Cecil Taylor territory in an instant. Each also brings a wealth of extended techniques to the proceedings, which helps the players to really make the songs their own. In fact, some listeners may be surprised that only piano and violin are being used, given the range of sounds and tones produced. Courvoisier's inside-the-piano technique is very interesting and never gimmicky. She strums the piano strings backing Feldman's pizzicato on "Abidan," sounding almost like an autoharp. On "Nezikin," she pulls such an astonishing range of sounds from her piano that you'd swear another instrument were present. Feldman is equally in command of his instrument, using every conventional bowing and plucking technique and then some. The tracks range from the truly lovely "Kanah" to the cartoonish "Hath Arob," which almost sounds like Carl Stalling. A nice mix of inside and outside playing, Masada Recital is another winning entry in the ever-expanding catalog of Masada performances.

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