Christian Winther Christensen - Almost In G [Col Legno - 2019]Danish Modern Classic composer Christian Winther Christensen has a distinctive & often fairly schizophrenic style- that shifts between the violent & often jarring, to playful & subtle harmonic. Almost In G is recent CD release on Col Legno- celebrating the work of this distinctive young composer- featured here are seven pieces from between 2006 & 2017- and each features/ highlights the composer highly unique take on modern classical composition.
The release appears in a digipak featuring a brown, blue & white colour scheme- in the inside is a 37-page booklet, featuring English & Danish texts- which discusses Christensen work in general, the pieces here, and short bios of Christensen, and the players of each piece.
To try & sum up Christensen work in one or two words I’d say jarring & playful - as his compositions often switch between violent & taunt, near silence, and the darting, bright, at times comical. He really utilizes your standard classical instrumentation in such a different, daring & unusual manner- with emphasis on neck sounds, scrubbing string work, micro picking, bonding almost rhythmic keys, and vigorous sawings.
The release begins with the four-part title track which is from 2016- the piece is for piano, blending together string picks, hammer darts, and the very occasional more formal piano sound. To start with the instrument's strings are covered in tape- but this is gradually removed as the work progresses- the piece opens with a very rapid selection of darts, muffled picks, and higher harmonic fumbles- it’s certainly a very vigorous & manic start to proceedings. As the work progresses, and the tape is taken off the strings, things start to become more spaced & pared back- with sudden rapid notes, moving to slow tone simmers & playful picks.
2008- 2009’s "String Trio" moves between drunken-sped up saws, to sourly high pitched string picks, violent dipping swoons, and near silence. Or one of my favourite tracks 2010-2011’s "Nachtmusik" opens with distant almost rhythmic sweeps & picks, before moving onto manic & fleeting string scrubs. Later there's speedily darting harmonics & vigorous sweeps, before the track shifts to almost bouncing wall like sweeps of keys, that are edge with manic neck squiggles & the odd bright harmonic aside.
In all this release takes in just over a hours worth of material- so it really works nicely as a primer of Christian Winther Christensen work. I can see this release been enjoyed beyond the normal modern classical listener, as Christensen does embody his work with flighty creativity & rewarding texture flare- so if you enjoy rapid improv, darting textured sound, or general urgent musical fare I think you’ll find some joy in what we have here.Roger Batty