Martin Ptak – River Tales
(col legno WWE1CD20441. CD Review by AJ Dehany)
River Tales is an instrumental song sequence onomatopoeically embodying the force and flow of the Danube. Throughout its allusive, alluvial course, the style evokes the substance. Stream is all eddies of piano arpeggios rolling upon rocks. Wings flies a pellucid Chopin-esque piano melody upon a sunlit backdrop while Storm lours in thick black clouds of brass.
In layered Nyman-esque filmic-classical arrangements a sense of drama pervades as the large ensemble shifts between discrete episodes in an authentic synthesis of styles and symbols: the dense live-sampled looping lagan of Merging, the crunchy flotsam of Flood, the widescreen emotional urgency of Kanon and the buoyant motifs of album closer Panta Rhei.
A subtitle The endless stream of recurrence refers to the album’s transfusion of reflective autobiographical elements. Trombonist, pianist and composer Martin Ptak’s early life in the Austrian town of Krems on the Danube inspires the album’s confident and impressive merging of music and memory. Restless changes signal the flux and fluidity of experience, evoked in rich string orchestrations driving across the mainsail of the piano. The shifting currents of the sequence yearn onward, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, back to the calmness of an elusive inner peace.
AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff. ajdehany.co.uk
River Tales is released by col legno.
LINK: River Tales
FOOTNOTE: Joe Zawinul also created a symphonic work about the Danube—Stories of the Danube—which we reviewed when it was revisited at the Barbican in 2017
Categories: CD review