At first, as Dutch violinist Ig Henneman tells it, Romanian, Amsterdam-based violinist-violist George Dumitriu (who also plays the electric guitar and electronics in other outfits) «wanted to know more about the viola». Around the same time, Henneman heard a solo set of another Amsterdam-based musician, Catalan cellist Pau Sola Masafrets, and he suggested that the three musicians would form a string trio. The new trio set a date and then «the neighbor from upstairs», Henneman’s partner Ab Baars, was invited to join for the last hour. With his Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi. The absolute joy of improvising on wooden instruments convinced all that a new quartet was born
The new kids on the block, as Baars call Dumitiu and Masafrets, organized a spontaneous recording session at Bernard Haitink hall of the Conservatory of Amsterdam in June 2019. The 11 pieces on «Aforismen Aforisme Aforismes» are credited to the four musicians and titled after the various soil types from the countries of the four musicians: Netherlands, Romania and Spain.
This chamber quartet focuses on a patient and fearless search of unconventional textures and dynamics, where the ethereal sounds of Baars’ shakuhachi and clarinet find common ground with the delicate arco and pizzicato work of Henneman, Dumitriu and Masafrets. The quartet offers a suggestive, haunting atmosphere on «Rendzine» and improvises on a gentle and engaging melody on «Paarse Hei». «Estepa» explores the tension between the urgent playing of the string trio and the meditative, sparse tone of Baars’ shakuhachi, but «Arena» already employs this kind of dramatic tension for a fast and sharp improvisation.
«Laagveen» offers a mysterious, cinematic atmosphere with its almost silent tone, and «Dune» deepens this kind of reserved, quiet atmosphere for an exploration of extended bowing techniques, with few comments of Baars’ shakuhachi. «Aigummoll» is a poetic and sensual, court-and-spark dance of the string trio with Baars’ shakuhachi, followed by a brief, like-minded piece, «Brun Roscate» with Baars on the clarinet. «Zeeklei» suggests another kind of reserved, unsettling drama and this beautiful album is concluded with the beautiful, meditative melody of «Cernoziom».
Ab Baars (cl, shakuhachi), George Dumitiu (vio, viola), Ig Henneman (viola), Pau Sola Masafrets (c)