sat 13/07/2024

Album: Härtel Trübsbach - Great Again | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Härtel Trübsbach - Great Again

Album: Härtel Trübsbach - Great Again

Great viola playing combining heavenly and daemonic

''Great Again' is their own creation, and they have done it on their own terms'

When Marie-Theres Härtel plays the viola, she is an astonishing force of nature. If great string-playing should combine the heavenly and the daemonic, the civilised and the raw, hers certainly does.

She has a deep family folk heritage from the Steiermark in Austria (“yodelling was my mother tongue”, she says) but also spent quite a few years among the cohort of elite string players at the Vienna Conservatoire, trudging the streets around the Singerstrasse like Mozart (another viola player), and learning the magical Viennese art of how to function as an inner voice at the heart of any orchestral or quartet string texture. Her bowing has a force and positivity that are remarkable, she digs deep into the string, and the sheer rhythmic drive and propulsion she shows on this album is something quite extraordinary. When required, she turns the viola into the drone of a bagpipe... or a jazz rhythm section. This is an addictively life-affirming sound from a very strong musical personality indeed.

Her partner, sax/clarinet/flute player Florian Trübsbach also had his opportunities early in life to sample what the classical music world has to offer; he was a boy treble in the Tölzer Knabenchor, where he had the opportunity to look straight into the imperious and unforgiving eyes of conductor Herbert Karajan. Trübsbach also decided to go his own way: he is a jazz musician these days, and professor of jazz saxophone at Munich conservatoire. He can play in a rough-hewn, Ornette-ish way, but on flute he plays a version of Johnny Mandel’s “Emily” here which is even smoother and more lyrical and delicate than that of Eddie Daniels with Bucky Pizzarelli from the 1970s. Again his range of timbre and expression are jaw-dropping.

Their self-produced duo album Great Again is their own creation, and they have done it on their own terms. No tricks, no overdubs or post-production. And if there is any “message” here, it is surely in the music. Both Härtel and Trübsbach play a huge range of instruments, switching effortlessly from one combination to another, and are good singers too. We hear them both on a pair of six-holed Schwegelpfeifen. There is also accordion, zither and some foot-stamping. The album starts with the charm of the Ländler “Sie rent obi” (she runs downhill), and takes us through a stupendous version of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" (a highlight), a tribute to Bobby Watson, a devilishly complex shared line from Lee Konitz, and an ancient hymn. And yet it all flows and comes across as wonderfully natural and joyous music-making.

At the time of writing, the album is only available as a physical CD (see link below). That really does need to change.


This is is an addictively life-affirming sound from a very strong musical personality indeed


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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