FRANÇOIS COUTURIER: Nostalghia – Song for Tarkovsky – ECM

by | Oct 24, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

FRANÇOIS COUTURIER: Nostalghia – Song for Tarkovsky – ECM 1979, 77:53 ****:

(Francois Couturier, piano; Anja Lechner, cello; Jean-Marc Larché, soprano sax; Jean-Louis Matinier, accordion)

The decision-making as to what genre to put a disc in has grown more difficult recently. I only decided to list this one in our Jazz section since ECM did not make it a part of the New Series, which is mostly classical in nature. I also considered including it in a survey of soundtracks, but these pieces are not from actual film soundtracks – they are original compositions in homage to the work of the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, considered by some to be the greatest film director, and who died 20 years ago.

Couturier was the pianist on the interesting ECM disc of 2001, Le pas du chat noir, with oudist Anouar Brahem. He is a great fan of Tarkovsky and has seen all his slow, hypnotic and highly spiritual films many times. Couturier avoided being illustrative, wanting instead to represent specific emotions connect to the director’s work. Tarkovsky himself described filmmaking as “sculpting in time” – which could apply just as well to music. The CD’s title comes from Tarkovsky’s 1983 film Nostalghia.  He said in his film it indicates a global yearning for the wholeness of existence.

All the music was composed by Couturier except for two group improvisations on Solaris and a duet titled Ivan. Tarkovsky didn’t use much music in his films, but he greatly admires both Bach and Pergolesi. The opening selection for The Sacrifice as well as the closing one for L’éternel retour use themes from the St. Matthew Passion and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Various tracks are dedicated to Edouard Artemyev, who did the soundtrack music for both Solaris and Stalker, Bergman’s cameraman Sven Nykvist, and actor Erland Josephson – who appeared in Nostalghia and Sacrifice.

Couturier’s cellist Anja Lechner is a member of the Rosamunde String Quartet and has been involved in many classical projects as well as improvisation with Dino Saluzzi and others. His other two ensemble members are French, as is he. Tarkovsky’s films abound in very long unbroken cuts which often create a haunting and melancholy feeling.  Many of the pieces in Nostalghia have a similar ruminative effect on the listener.

Tracklist: Le Sacrifice, Crépusculaire, Nostalghia, Solaris I, Miroir, Solaris II, Andrei, Ivan, Stalker, Le temps scellé, Toliu, L’éternel retour

– John Sunier

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