Marius Neset/ London Sinfonietta – World Premiere of “Geyser”, – London Jazz News
Marius Neset / London Sinfonietta / Geoffrey Paterson – Geyser
(Royal Albert Hall – Proms 2022, Saturday September 3. Live review by Rob Mallows)
From pain comes beauty.
Geyser – the new composition of the Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset – was first written in response to the emotional impact of the pandemic.
It was Neset’s attempt to capture the joy of playing and the burst of creative energy that erupts, like a fountain, when musicians perform on stage, which he and others had failed to do. two previous years.
Then the war in Ukraine came.
Neset writes in the liner notes that as a composer he felt compelled to rewrite what he had completed to better reflect the shock and pain of the conflict, thus generating a musical tour de force which, on approximately 65 minutes and eight irresistible movements took the audience of the Royal Albert Hall from darkness and despair to a place of optimism.
I’m more familiar with the fact that Neset plays in conventional formations, his own Quintet, excelling on Morten SchantzGodspeed or with the ‘jazz-pop noughties of Jazz Kamikaze, through which he first built his reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting saxophonists and composers.
Late Saturday night, performing with the London Sinfonietta, Neset cemented his place among Europe’s jazz elite by bringing together such excitingly composed and improvised music.
On the garden side, the Sinfonietta, skilfully directed by Geoffrey Paterson. Stage left, his quintet, all familiar names on the London jazz scene: Ivo Neame at the piano, jim hart vibraphone and percussion, Conor Chaplin on the double bass, and Anton Eger to the battery.
(Eger, by the way – sporting a mane of bleached blonde hair reminiscent of Doc Brown from the Back to the future frankness, flowing majestically in time with every cymbal crash – was dressed in a tie, blazer, badge and pocket square for the show. He cut a convincing figure behind the plexiglass screens as, over the course of the evening, his drumming grew in intensity, forcing the blazer to be thrown away halfway through.)
At center stage stood Neset, bridging the two worlds.
With an expanded palette to play and the world’s most famous concert hall to fill, Neset went wild in a spellbinding performance that spanned the gamut of musical emotion and earned energetic applause and roars, and three encores, of a third full but delighted the Royal Albert Hall audience (this being a Late Proms it ended at around 11.25am, causing a rush for the last trains back).
And what about music?
It opened with stiff, choppy strings and emotionally charged chord choices from orchestra and band, reflecting the darker tones Neset added to his original composition in response to Putin’s war.
As these themes developed—sometimes reflecting a sense of cinematic score—Neset’s soprano and tenor saxophone interjections and Neame and Hart’s jarring, stuttering chords, and competing time signatures, created a feeling disturbing chaos. As the orchestra and band increased the intensity of the opening movements, Neset leaned forward center stage – his head bowed, his arms draped in front of his knees, almost in pleading – evoking a man in severe pain, experiencing the musical Stum and Drang is played behind him.
But then there was a reset, as the pitch of the music shifted and looked up. Neset’s epic runs and sustained upper-register sax sounds made the most of the massive space available and soared as he explored themes of redemption and rebirth on the back of tonal choices. brighter.
Towards the end, as the eponymous Geyserthe musicians, having absorbed the buildup of pressure from what had gone before, exploded onto the stage in a musical release of tension and joy that offered an uplifting ending to a composition that rounded all emotional bases before go home.
The Neset Quintet and the London Sinfonietta blended seamlessly, each playing to their strengths, creating a musical couple that embodied the ancient but nonetheless treasured cliché that the whole was something more than the mere sum of its parts. For Neset (this was his third collaboration with the Sinfonietta), it’s a chance to expand and explore, to test himself, to put his increasingly recognized compositional skills into play and to react expansively. and exhilarating to the world around him.
With Geyser, Neset has extracted a musical vein of ideas, and you can see at the end that the exhaustion of doing so. The countless hours of composition, reconsideration and reflection, repetition and refinement were worth it.
Geyser was commissioned by the BBC Proms
LINK: Prom 63 is available to listen on BBC Sounds for next year