It’s challenging to review an album of your favourite composers. High expectations precede the listening experience, but they were surpassed in Ensemble Liaison’s Rhapsody.
Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires opens with excessively resonant low piano tones; but this quickly settles into a fulfilling and surprisingly cinematic rendition. After sinking into the ensemble’s expressive presentation of David Griffiths’ arrangement (based on José Bragato’s own arrangement), his version of Debussy’s Beau Soir arrived as a light whirl of sound – contrastingly spacious, despite its two-or-so-minute duration.
There’s a reliably beautiful Saint-Saëns’ The Swan, but I preferred Nicholas Marks’ Desaparecido, commissioned for this album. Cleverly, it harked back to the Piazzolla and the ensemble gave it plenty of bite. Playfully deceptive progressions and brief impressionistic gestures blend seamlessly before the multifaceted musical narrative comes to an abrupt finish – I pictured the musicians jumping and grinning as they conquered the final notes.
A comparatively slow-paced Bach Clarinet Sonata in D Minor (an arrangement of BWV1034), showcases an assured Griffiths on clarinet (also behind this arrangement). This was very much his album, though cellist Svetlana Bogosavljevic and pianist Timothy Young can’t be dismissed. The relationship sounds organic, communication flawless, especially in the ensemble-arranged Rhapsody in Blue.
Composer: Debussy, Gershwin, Piazzolla et al
Performer: Ensemble Liaison
Catalogue Number: EL Records EL002