Guy, Biber

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Ceremony; Celebration; Still; Mystery Sonata No. 1; Immeasurable Sky
PERFORMER: Maya Homburger (violin)Barry Guy (double bass)
CATALOGUE NO: 453 847-2
This is an evocative, original and entirely captivating disc. It opens with Heinrich Ignaz Biber’s Annunciation (the prelude of the first Mystery Sonata), and echoes of that piece recur throughout the remaining five pieces on the album, all composed by the double bassist Barry Guy. Maya Homburger plays the Baroque violin, multi-tracked with herself in the central work, Ceremony. Guy’s Still is a wonderful piece of improvisation for solo double bass, as much contemporary jazz as anything, while Immeasurable Sky beguilingly contrasts different degrees of improvisation in each instrument and the final Breathing Earth reconsiders the last movement of the same Biber sonata from which the opening track comes. As both composer and performer Guy proves himself a master of atmosphere, and a confident manipulator and originator of some fascinating sound-colours. The flavour of the pair’s performances is deeply meditative and utterly concentrated, as though the disc had been made after a period of isolated retreat. It is music that has a curious sense of impetus, one which gives the impression of uncanny stillness. Though it is definitively of its own time, it resonates with the same exploratory flavour, joining technical brilliance with spirituality, that Biber cultivated to such enticing effect three and a quarter centuries ago. Stephen Pettitt