Session filmed, broadcast and recorded live in a studio without any audience.
It took place in Brussels on June 15, 2009.
00'00 // Cage - Five
04'51 // Bach - Choralpartita BWV 770
23'15 // Sleichim - Storm At Low Tide
35'20 // Bach - Choralpartiten BWV 768
52'30 // Reich - New York Counterpoint
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The Blind Man is the name of the Revue Marcel Duchamp published in New York in 1917, to spread the ideas of the artistic group known as « Les Indépendants ». Bl!ndman celebrates in music the subversive attitude of these artists: repertoires (mostly classical and contemporary) get mixed up, and music opens to other disciplines (dance, cinema, drama, video...). The four saxophonists collaborate with such artists as Jan Fabre, Phil Minton or Terry Riley, while concurrently working on classical music; their fellow countryman Philippe Herreweghe invited them to take part in a Bach program for a carte blanche session (Paris, Cité de la Musique, 2003). The Bl!ndman ensemble started out as a saxophone quartet led by Eric Sleichim. In 2005 they become a collective that sponsors and gives shape to three more quartets (Bl!ndman [strings] [vox] and [drums]), thus creating an elastic formation and opening up their repertoire even further.
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Bach's Choralpartiten, based on Lutherian chorals' melodies, were written for the organ. The surprising choice of a saxophone quartet to interpret these works turns out to be an excellent idea. The saxophone's sound proves unbelievably wide in its capabilities - one minute it evokes ancient organs, the next reed instruments such as the oboe. The quartet formation lets each of the various voices inside the musical dialogue come forth individually - hence offering an easier access to the composer's polyphonic constructions. In turn optimistic, pious or seductive, the saxophone's chanting accompanies the movements of the soul with the softness of brass.
The first movement within each partita harmonizes the chosen choral, and the following movements are variations on the choral's theme, incorporating rhythmic, melodic and harmonic modifications. These exercises in counterpoint may be considered as abstract, profane music, as well as melodic transcriptions of a religious feeling expressed in the words of the choral.
The program's other bright idea is to introduce Bach's obviously imperishable works inside the framework of the modern world, here embodied by Cage, Reich, Andriessen and Sleichim.
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