By Carlo Wolff | Published August 2017
The first formal recording of a trio whose members have worked in various duo formats for years, Asian Fields Variations beds Louis Sclavis’ plangent clarinets in the rhapsodic twine of Dominique Pifarély’s violin and Vincent Courtois’ violoncello.
This modern classical music should be absorbed slowly. It does not swing; it invites and embraces. It does not bludgeon; it persuades. It can be spectral, as in Courtois’ patient and haunting “Les Nuits.” It can be frantic, as in Sclavis’ “Cèdre,” a track featuring the clarinetist in overdrive, along with a stunning Pifarély solo to bring the tune home. It can be mysterious, as in Pifarély’s “Sous Le Masque,” a mini-symphony ripe with alluring countermelodies. This rich album was produced with characteristic respect and clarity by Manfred Eicher. Masters of tone, timbre and dynamics, the performers know precisely when to recede into blend and when to shine up front. Their patience and empathy keep them on a luminous and ego-free course.
Such qualities also make demands of the listener, for this is not easy listening. It speaks of the collective and sophisticated sensibility governing a recording of unusually lovely arc and roundness.
Asian Fields Variations: Mont Myon; Done And Done; Pensée Furtive; Figure Absente; Asian Fields; Digression; Fifteen Weeks; Les Nuits; Cèdre; Sous Le Masque; La Carrière. (45:34)
Personnel: Louis Sclavis, clarinets; Vincent Courtois, violoncello; Dominique Pifarély, violin.