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Saint Boy (Daniel Pioro)

Daniel Pioro, Jonathan Morton, Clio Gould (violin), Oliver Wilson (viola), Clare O’Connell (cello), Katherine Tinker (chamber organ) (Platoon Music)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Saint Boy
Music by Ásmundsdóttir, JS Bach, Biber, Crane, Hildegarde, Martin, Pioro and Tartini
Daniel Pioro,  Jonathan Morton, Clio Gould (violin), Oliver Wilson (viola), Clare O’Connell (cello), Katherine Tinker (chamber organ)
Platoon Music PLAT15332  62.23 mins


If the general tendency is to gently cushion recorded sound, as though it is being experienced from the finest seat in a modern concert venue, Daniel Pioro exposes us to the ambient-free, close-miked sonic immediacy of the original source. As a result, every tiny inflection of bow and finger possesses a startling realism and micro-identity. To hear Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill’ Sonata played unaccompanied, with such bracingly improvised freedom and temporal elasticity, without a hint of tonal coiffuring, is like having a sonic veil removed.

As if to emphasise the album’s special point of contact with sound, the remainder of the programme is framed with the near-inaudible yet magical aura of the chamber organ being activated and deactivated. This immediately alerts the senses for what is to come, in which each tiny inflection appears to grow logically from what has gone before and sets up what follows with an extraordinary sense of auditory inevitability, in that particular moment. This is music which appears to sit on a tantalising knife-edge between exploratory freedom and a powerful sense of inevitability, as exemplified by Lilja Maria Ásmundsdóttir’s A Glimpse of An Open Heart, which coalesces fragmentary gestures into passages of radiant cantabile purity.

The album’s emotional core is the self-penned Saint Boy (a title that intentionally offsets the spiritual and secular worlds), complete with scordatura D-G-D-G tuning, which plays on the striking contrast between music of sustained, pure contentment and (turning the emotional coin over) lively inquisitiveness. As with every track on the album, Pioro’s exploratory zeal and deeply compelling fascination with the nature of sound makes one listen afresh and question much of what musically we tend to take for granted.


Julian Haylock