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Rank Ensemble is a Helsinki-based ensemble focusing on new and improvised music. Rank Ensemble is: Elena Kakaliagou (Greece/Austria), french horn; Saara Rautio (Finland), harp; Solmund Nystabakk (Norway), guitar; and James Andean (Canada), piano, electronics…
Rank Ensemble is a Helsinki-based ensemble focusing on new and improvised music. Rank Ensemble is: Elena Kakaliagou (Greece/Austria), french horn; Saara Rautio (Finland), harp; Solmund Nystabakk (Norway), guitar; and James Andean (Canada), piano, electronics and objects.
Guitarist, lutenist, theorbist, and all around nice guy, Solmund Nystabakk brings charm, panache, and immaculate attention to detail to everything he does. Equally at home in the worlds of early music, contemporary music, and improvisation, equal parts Byrd, Ferneyhough and Frisell, Solmund drapes Rank Ensemble in a delicate veil of subtlety and grace.
As uncompromising a musician as ever plucked a harpstring, Saara Rautio shares her time between solo contemporary works, orchestral repertoire, and improvisation. Able to make the harp sing, squeak, squeal or bark, her visceral playing has the capacity to provoke, delight or inspire. Don’t let the sweet smile and seraphic harpistry fool you: this is not a girl you would want to come up against in a dark musical alley!
When the sonic landscape seems hopelessly adrift in a fog of plucking, scraping, and general fiddling about, Elena Kakaliagou‘s french horn rings out from the depths, parting the musical mist and dropping anchor before all is lost at sea. More chimera than musician, Elena embodies a number of unlikely pairings: part Greek, part Austrian; part contemporary musician, part cabaret performer… Ready to launch into an impassioned monologue or crawl across the floor at the slightest provocation, breaking at any moment from the density of extended techniques to the brazen melodies of unapologetic pop, Elena is the mercurial heart and fiery soul of Rank Ensemble.
Musician, composer, recording engineer, researcher – James Andean‘s competence is as varied and of as diverse origin as his tutti-frutti instrumentarium. Combined with a portion of Scotch stubbornness, New World initiative and an inexhaustible work discipline, it is a major force in the group’s artistic work, and must be credited with having made Rank one of the best-documented avant-garde music groups around. James also has a most fruitful ability to switch from elaborate eloquence and precise articulation to complete spontaneity and crackling frenzy in a second, and one can only admire how in him, the well-reflected craftsman and the Homo Ludens co-exist in macrotonal harmony.