Hoya documents a meeting of four experimental string improvisers – Portuguese violinist Maria da Rocha, prolific violist Ernesto Rodrigues (who released the album on his label Creative Sources) and one of the closest musical comrades of Rodrigues, double bass player João Madeira (who recorded, mixed and mastered the album) with American cellist Daniel Levin. These musicians recorded four solo pieces, six duets and two pieces as a quartet. The album was recorded in Lisbon in October 2022.
The first, four short and free improvised solo pieces introduce the personal, extended bowing techniques of Levin, Rodrigues, Madeira and da Rocha, exploring timbral details, overtones and multiphonics. Da Rocha’s «Solo IV» is the most beautiful, sensual and mysterious of the solo pieces and acts like an instant composition. The six improvised duet pieces are even shorter but charge the music with tension and restless and intense energy. The «Duo VI» of Rodrigues and Madeira is the most satisfying.
The two quartet pieces build on the already-established rapport of the previous duet pieces and deepen the open, conversational dynamics of the duet pieces. The music flows naturally, with its experimental bowing techniques and patient exchange of eccentric, challenging ideas but also deep listening. «Quartet I» suggests a mysterious, cinematic atmosphere while «Quartet II» is free-associative and offers totally free dynamics. Both quartet pieces blur the distinctions between free improvisation, instant composing and contemporary music.
No Strings Attached presents the Portuguese free improvising string trio of Rodrigues, who focuses here most of the time on violin, with two double bass players Madeira (who, again, was responsible for the recording, mixing and mastering) and Hernâni Faustino, known from the RED trio and Rodrigo Amado Wire Quartet. This trio was recorded in a studio and live at Cossoul, Lisbon, during the Creative Sources Cycle in February 2023.
The eight short studio pieces offer different kinds of intense and stormy dynamics that emphasize the strong personal voices of these experienced improvisers, and, obviously, variations of detailed counterpoint. The last, 32-minute live piece, which was recorded three days before the studio session, with Rodrigues back on the viola, sitting with Madeira and Faustino standing on his right and left sides, suggests a different atmosphere. It develops its dynamics patiently, and its interplay is still powerful but alternates with introspective and poetic modes, and, obviously, features different and personal kinds of extended bowing techniques.
Maria da Rocha (violin), Ernesto Rodrigues (viola, violin), Daniel Levin (cello), João Madeira (double bass), Hernâni Faustino (double bass)