(Creative Sources)

Udo Schindler (clarinets) and Masako Ohta (piano) are regular artistic partners, Kaiyūshiki Teien being the second of three CDs as a duo, in between 2014’s Ohenrosan (Pilgrims Of Sound) and 2020’s Music In Space (Creative Sources). The mutual receptivity is nearly palpable in this live set recorded in May 2017. The pair’s connection can be appreciated on YouTube as well, if one’s willing to observe the purely physical/gestural aspects of the practice. In that regard, Ohta is also a teacher; in those lessons she tackles other disciplines, like Tai-Chi and Japanese calligraphy. All of this has probably had an influence on her way of projecting the inner self to the audience.

One hour is more than enough to ascertain the collectedness, empathy and — above all — respect informing this relationship. Different schools are compared — Schindler is a natural born improviser, while Ohta has classical roots — that seem to blend flawlessly. Wide spaces are inhabited by unequivocal timbres, either transparent or strident. The melodic sketches are soberly economical in terms of notes played. Most structures are close to an evolved post-minimalism, with a prominent improvised side. Both performers resort to alternative approaches for the emission of diverse sounds. Schindler would be able to extract useful upper partials even from a toothpick, whereas Ohta uses her instrument’s strings with the same curiosity of a harpist intent in researching sweet-tempered noises.

Parts of this performance elicited mental pictures of bird courtship, such is the graceful consideration with which Schindler and Ohta carry on their dialogue. Sonic streams of opposite ancestry ultimately merge into a precious unicum. Halfway through microsonic investigation and instant development of first-rate architectures, the music on this album represents both a slap in the face of cynicism and an effective sedative for the voyeurs of narcissistic virtuosity. This might very well be the “most ECM” release of Creative Sources’ catalog; your breathing will adapt to it straight away.

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