Dino Saluzzi - bandoneon
Anja Lechner - cello
Felix ‘Cuchara’ Saluzzi - tenor saxophone, clarinet
A clash of two cultures: an Argentinean bandoneonist and a European Cellist. Just like the Scandinavian singer and Italian painting in Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice. Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner have known each other for nearly a decade, since their work on the album Kultrum (1998). This was followed by the enthusiastically received and often awarded Ojos Negros (2007) and the wonderful documentary El Encuentro (Enrique Ros and Norber Wiedmer, 2012) about their collaboration and transcontinental travels. The two musicians merge the best of their respective musical traditions: the freedom of playing and the freedom of the tango with the discipline of composition and chamber music. Saluzzi, who is now in his late seventies, hails from Salta and has always played orally passed down pieces whilst polishing his skills in a series of orchestras. More than twice his junior Lechner, a graduate of the Vienna Conservatory and founder of the Rosamunde String Quartet, is accustomed to working with musical notation and closed composition.
When this already explosive duet was joined by Dino’s brother, Felix, everything gained some simply classical and harmonious proportions. On one side there is the jazz saxophone or clarinet, on the other side there is the Argentinean bandoneon and on the third – the elegant cello, whilst the musicians do their best to surpass or challenge their roles. Hence the melodies of the tango evolve now and again into some acrid dissonances and the vibrato of the cello into a feisty pizzicato. The most versatile of them all turns out to be the saxophone, the child of the borderline between the high and the low. All this merges into a balanced trio in which the respective styles and traditions exist in accord, as if this was exemplary global music.
Ray Comiskey of the Irish Times has written about La Navidad de los Andes (Andean Roots) that “[t]hough these measured, impressionistic pieces are rooted in Dino´s culture, they evoke the universal: nostalgia, playfulness, solitude and celebration, sentiment and sentimentality. … [I]t´s difficult at times to separate the improvised and the written, they do it with the simplest of melodic means, making the most subtle use of dynamics … .” According to John Fordham of The Guardian, “Navidad's capacity to evoke images of everything from dark mountainscapes to village dances is seductive, and variations ebb and flow beneath the mournful sweeps of bandoneon chords and fragile upper-cello sounds that dive dramatically into low reverberations.
But what is the most striking is the wonderful understanding between the musicians. This, actually, seems quite obvious regarding the Saluzzi brothers who have played together for more than five decades, with some of the most recent effects of this collaboration being the ECM albums Mojotoro (1992) and Juan Condori (2005). But things are different with Anja Lechner who is used to working with scores. Consequently, the moments of ideal harmony are all the more moving. These are assisted, undoubtedly, by the complementary tone colours of the individual instruments. The breath of the bandoneon changes into a blow on the saxophone to be embraced by a stroke of the bow.
Even if we assume that Tarkovsky did not like the tango listening to the Saluzzis and Lechner would have taken his breath away.
Though these measured, impressionistic pieces are rooted in Dino’s culture, they evoke the universal: nostalgia, playful-ness, solitude and celebration, sentiment and sentimentality. And, thanks to a rapport so intimate that it’s difficult at times to separate the improvised and the written, they do it with the simplest of melodic means, making the most subtle use of dynamics and the contrasting colours afforded by the grave eloquence of cello, classical clarinet, soft-toned tenor and bandoneon.
Ray Comiskey, "The Irish Times"
“Navidad’s” capacity to evoke images of everything from dark mountainscapes to village dances is seductive, and variations ebb and flow beneath the mournful sweeps of bandoneon chords and fragile upper cello sounds that dive dramatically into low reverberations. There are brief outbursts of harder-accented pieces, in which the instruments gracefully chase each other and then weave contrapuntal passages where im-provised and composed parts are almost impossible to sepa-rate. When Felix Saluzzi arrives with smoky, late-night tenor sax on the blearly “Requerdos de Bohemia”, it comes as a sur-prise, giving the music an utterly changed atmosphere with its downbeat urbanity.
John Fordham, "The Guardian"