Traveling Light is the debut album by the Intercontinental Ensemble from TRPTK. The Intercontinental Ensemble is an ensemble that consists out of 9 players from over the world. They combine 4 string and 5 wind players. The group was founded in 2012 in Amsterdam, with members from Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands.
Ernst Spyckeerelle says “Making a musical arrangement is best compared with translating a book, and I imagine that a translator must answer the same questions before he goes to work. How do I transform the original into a new form, whilst keeping the message of the work clear? Which bits and pieces must be cut, and what new space is created through this process? Which notes must stay? Armed with the orchestral score and a sharpened pencil, I started my operation. In the beginning, I mumbled “sorry, Ludwig…” under my breath every time I crossed out a note, but after a while I started to get into the swing of things, and before I know it I was two symphonies in. (…)
I would want to wish every musician a recording experience like the one I have had with TRPTK. Brendon’s incredible enthusiasm, combined with an eye for detail and professionalism made sure that our project came to a beautiful end. My arrangements and my ensemble were in the best possible hands. Also, during the performance, Brendon found the right mix between strict listener and healing psychologist, whenever a mental breakdown came close after 15 takes…
With the Intercontinental Ensemble, we try to distill chamber music out of famous symphonic works. TRPTK made sure that this adventure was captured and edited clear. Together with them, we went to the absolute extreme, and I hope that we will walk this path more often together.”
Ernst Spyckerelle – Violin & Arrangements
Iteke Wijbenga – Viola
Simon Velthuis – Cello
Jorge Hernández – Double Bass
Eliška Horehled’ová – Flute
Alexander van Eerdewijk – Oboe
Alfonso Manzanera Rojo – Clarinet
Simão Fonseca – French Horn
Daniel Garrido Iglesias – Bassoon
Total time: 01:05:37
Furutech custom microphone cables, Furutech NanoFlux NCF power cables, Furutech NanoFlux speaker cables, Furutech LineFlux XLR interconnects
Hapi, Merging Technologies
Sonodore RCM-402, Brauner VM-1
|Original Recording Format|
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
KEF Blade Two
|Release Date||October 17, 2018|
I already wrote about the sublime artistic level because that is what the Intercontinental Ensemble (in nonet setting: nine instruments, without timpani: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, double bass) has to offer. Of course, symphony orchestras play this music with the proverbial two fingers in the nose, but when returned to this pure form of chamber music, the cards are quite different: every individual nuance, every accent counts, just as phrasing and dynamics demand extreme precision to be fulfilled. what matters in this case: extreme artistically designed transparency.
The reduction from symphonic to chamber music proportions was far from unusual even in Beethoven’s time and much later. The purpose of such operations was clear: to serve as the (only) alternative to the concert hall. Just as arrangements for piano (two-handed or four-handed) appeared at that time. Nowadays, of course, this is no longer necessary: even the greatest symphony (how about Mahler’s Eighth?) can be enjoyed at home, if necessary while shaving or outside, while jogging. Extreme? Perhaps, but we don’t turn our backs on that either.
We obviously do not know what went on in the minds of these music finders during the creative process, but we do of course know what they have written down and then we see how refined they have put together the image as a whole. From a purely instrumental point of view the ‘Pastorale’ – to quote this example again – is not a concert for winds, timpani and strings, but a real symphony that requires a perfect balance between and within the different instrument groups. That is quite different from ‘playing every note in its full glory’.
Nevertheless, there is a case to be made for this chamber music approach. After all, we can draw on countless recordings of the originally composed symphonies and then it is certainly nice to be able to follow the vocals in detail. And especially when so formidably well executed and captured. The choice of instruments divided over the two channels may take some getting used to for many, but also see this as part of the ‘learning process’. Seen in this way alone, ‘Traveling Light’ is a fascinating acquisition.
With the InterContinental Ensemble, and quite honestly much to my surprise, all the pre-cited qualities are there: the brilliance, the emotion the drama. But not only that. What seems to me of paramount importance is to discover what each individual player was able to contribute to the overall result, and – by no means easy – how they manage to keep symphonic coherence without apparent conductor. I think that in these departments the ensemble makes, with phenomenal precision, their strongest statement.
But there is more. With waning enthusiasm amongst the younger generation, it struck me that we have here a much more ‘mobile’ format than a full-sized orchestra, being more easily capable of reaching out to schools etc. without the need for large space nor breaking the communal piggybank. In that sense ‘traveling light’ has a further meaning than the two Ernst Spyckerelle gives for explaining the name of the ensemble’s debut release: “on the one hand it refers to the arrangements themselves, which have been slimmed down from a full orchestral setting to a version for nine individual players. On the other hand, it has a special, extra meaning for us, as we have come together from all corners of the earth, driven by our love for music.”
I wish these young, gifted musicians every opportunity to go out to spread the gospel of classical music, in the concert hall as well as amongst the people.
My enthusiasm concerns in equal measure the quality of the recording. TRPTK, and more in particular, Brendon Heinst, have done a great service to musicians and music lovers alike.
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