When you think about it, the notion of a “radical cycle” is a bit of an oxymoron. Cycles are usually understood to be stable and repeating, which is hard to imagine if something is radical.
Radical Cycle is also the title of a CD from Dani & Sageev Oore, a pair of musical brothers. Dani plays the saxophone, Sageev plays the piano. The CD resembles a song cycle even though there are no vocals.
Listening to the CD the first time, I was more aware of the radical than the cyclical.
Does repetition make the radical normative in some sense? Could one take something edgy, and by repeating it, get accustomed to it? Where the cycle is actually a cycle of musical compositions, and it’s on a CD that you can listen to repeatedly, there’s a possibility to test this proposition, investigating what happens when you repeat the radical.
Hm, that’s almost exactly what I asked myself listening to the CD.
First time? Not knowing where it was going there was a great deal of edginess, alright, because of the contrast between the tracks, unmitigated by any familiarity.
When I listened to the CD a second time, I started to perceive it as a cycle. I couldn’t tell if it had been conceived this way, or assembled from pre-existing elements. But with each listening I got accustomed to it, and its edginess became something I could live with, the contours of a shape i could fathom and even learn to like.
The compositions range across several styles, which is at least part of the “radical”. Classical songs are channelled in several shapes, sometimes with a jazzy flavour, sometimes klezmer. Dani’ s sax sometimes shows a breathy sound resembling a human voice, sometimes the tragic-comical klezmer sound of the clarinet, sometimes a more conventionally jazzy sound.
My favourite track is a curious fusion of two romantic compositions, namely Schumann’s “Träumerei” (from Kinderszenen) and Schubert’s song “Gretchen am Spinnrade.” The paraphrase of the two pieces combine elegantly, a natural kind of segue as if the day-dreams of the Schumann lead us to the troubled thoughts of Gretchen in the Schubert lied. I can’t really get across how deep it is, only that I didn’t expect it to work so well. While the piece was likely an outgrowth of their jazz work, it’s a curious fusion of styles, in its way the epitome of anything you’d find on this CD.
Speaking of cycles, it’s now a pleasure to keep the CD in circulation in the car playing it repeatedly.
Tuesday October 2nd, the Brothers Oore bring their unique fusion of styles to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, a free noon-hour concert.