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Rolf Lislevand: Diminuito and the logic of Electric Guitars

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„This recording is all about the Italian renaissance, how it understood itself, how we understand it today and how we would have understood it if we had been contemporary with it, because no other period in European music’s history was as contemporary with itself as was the renaissance“, Lislevand said about the music on „Diminuito“, emphasising how the new art of embellishment and improvisation on the one hand led to a spicier sound and a much more breathless pace in performances, but reduced the composition itself to a mere byproduct of the virtuosos' fancies: „It is like the game of drawing lines through numbered points on the last page of newspapers: creating shapes and figures making lines from a number to another. Melodies are like these shapes and contours of a drawing, and each numbered point is the plucked sound, drawing lines from one attacked sound to another one, believing that a figure eventually occurs in our imagination!“

Quite obviously, then, Rolf Lislevand has lost nothing of his intellectual sharpness and infinite curiosity, which have always accompanied him on his way to the the top of the scene. Despite his views, which always came with a certain shock-value for conservatives, it has been wild and almost uninterrupted ascent. Lislevand studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland, recognised as one of the leading schools for old music in the world. Straight after finishing his courses, Jordi Saval asked him to join his various groups such as Hespèrion XX, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and the Concert des Nations. It was here that Oslo-born Lislavand was introduced to the music which would come to fascinate him for the next decades. He came to the conclusion that the past, present and future and intricately connected with each other and that awareness of these links are beneficial – rather than confusing – for a deeper understanding of the music.

Recorded in the Austrian town of St. Gerold in conjunction with Sopranos  Anna Maria Friman and Linn Andrea Fuglesth, „Diminuito“ makes full use of this insight to come up with a unique sound and equally personal interpretations. And as always, the album doesn't just make a statement about ancient times, but offers insights for the 21st century as well: „The art of diminution almost completely denaturalised the plucked instruments in the same way it has done to the electric plucked instruments in our own days“, according to Lislevand, „The distorted sound of an electric guitar made it a bowed string instrument and changed all its musical logic. The diminutions allowed the plucked string instrument to regain some of the qualities of the human voice, the phrasing, coloring and dynamics. By means of fast and small melodic figures which make bridges and reinforce the shape of the simple melody, the lute suddenly appears as protagonist, soloist and conductor, wowing a patchwork of colors, shadows and lights and in a unique way adding value to the simple and beloved, but all to well known melody.“

Homepage: ECM Records
Homepage: Rolf Lislevand: „Diminuito“ Micropage

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