"Actually this CD should contain a warning. Some of these pieces are so simple and cleverly constructed, that they have an extremely strong element of addiction. Track number five for example, called “Mara’s Lullaby”, is scarcely four minutes long. Four minutes, in which you would like to get down on your knees.
The Augsburg saxophonist Christian Elin (He plays soprano and alto saxophone as well as bass clarinet) has brought out a new CD, this time with the Venetian pianist Anna D’Errico. Joining them on various tracks are Sebastian Hausl (Marimba and percussion), Bastian Jütte (Drums) and Wolfram Oettl (Cembalo).
The recording is called “Back to Yourself”. The title is programmatic. Christian Elin has concentrated on himself and focused his own sound, which contains elements of jazz, Asian and Film music as well as influences of the late Middle Ages. Elin has collected sad, joyful, playful but also solemn pieces, written by composers such as Marc Mellits (who penned “Mara’s Lullaby”), Graham Fitkin or Peter Michael Hamel. None of the composers was born before 1947. So the emphasis is more on New Music. That doesn’t mean that one should fear tonal chaos. On the contrary: Elins playing, always in contrast to his partner on the piano, is highly intense and masterly in the fast passages and of great depth in the slower sections. This applies to the only track of the CD composed by Elin himself. It is called “May” and belongs to the addictive pieces. "
"How can anyone find themselves with music? How do composers develop their own unique style? For his new CD saxophonist and composer Christian Elin has put together his own music and eight pieces of colleagues. Congenially accompanied by artists such as the pianist Anna D’Errico, Elin produces a warm tone and a lively ductus: Many roads lead to oneself. In "Gate" by Graham Fitkin this path sounds minimalist and full of energy. Peter Michael Hamels "Anverwandlungen" ("Assimilations") evoke worlds of gamelan and ragas. Manfred Stahnkes computer assisted "khorsid ziba" comes as an archaic oriental coloured "showpiece" and then Christian Elin´s jazz inspired composition "May" sounds simply bewitching."
"One is captured by this CD from the first moment on. Saxophonist Christian Elin’s tone and the touch of the Venetian pianist, Anna D’Errico, who are later joined by further musicians from the Augsburg region – Sebastian Hausl on marimba and percussion, Bastian Jütte on drums and Wolfram Oettl on cembalo, enchant the listener by their warmth and softness, their perfection and animacy.
“Back to yourself” is the title of the CD, named after a piece written by the choirmaster of St. Anton, Stefan Nerf. The name says it all. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle, coming back to oneself, is something everyone should do from time to time. This recording is a suitable accompaniment. Without exception, the well-rehearsed pieces are all contemporary and most of them are even first-time recordings. All have a very pleasant effect.
The character remains consistently Arcadian hymn-like, peaceful but brisk, meditative, reflectively thought provoking throughout. Finally there is a game of tag: “The Beautiful Sun” by Manfred Stahnke is a Hoquetus, an old art form, also named “the hiccup technique”, which splits the line between both players and which requires a virtuoso hopping style of playing one after another. The composer describes the result as being as if played by “a strange music box”, although with an audibly broad background and wonderfully light-footed finish.
Many of the pieces are not only contemporary classics with echoes of modern jazz and modern hymns but literally world music. They rely on techniques of the middle ages or Arabian, Indian and Persian charts, as in the case of Peter Michael Hamel in his minimalist flowing “Anverwandlungen” (“Assimilations”). In Leo Sumeras (1950 – 2000) melodic recitative “Senza Metrum” one can hear traces of Estonian singing. Only Enjott Schneider three movement “Lotus Mandala” for bass clarinet, piano and cembalo extends the traditional boundaries of tone and playing. It sounds exotic, even clumsy, as in Griegs “March of the Trolls”, and one is reminded of a Gamelan orchestra.
The impressively reduced “Three Meditations” by Minas Borboudakis are in part programme music. The whirring resonance in the second piece, which follows the monodony of the saxophone, puts to sound Jesus passage in the desert, where He believes the devil is following Him. “But He hears Himself”, it says in the booklet. His discovery of His solitude in the broad desert is tangible even for the listener.
Some works leave space for improvisation, which Christian Elin and Anna D’Errico gladly fulfil: The result fits exactly into the composed framework, just as the cooperation of all sounds completely harmonious. “Back to Yourself” is indeed a musical benefit."
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