20 Nov 2006, 18:31
19 Nov – Jan Garbarek, The Hilliard Ensemble
(Lodz, Poland)Jan Garbarek
's collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble
resulted in some of the most incredible and out-of-this-world pieces of music I have heard – and I guess most listeners will agree with me. Thanks to the powerful voices of the Ensemble and the vocal saxophone improvisations delivered by Garbarek, Officium
both convey an evanescent atmosphere I feel incapable of describing. Although I love their studio efforts, their live performance was far beyond my expectations.
At first, the vocal quartet sounded a bit too quiet, but I guess that was since they had to adjust their voices to the acoustic conditions of the Lodz Cathedral. After a few minutes however, I felt literally engulfed by the sound. Purity of the Ensemble’s voices combined with Garbarek’s resonant, lyrical melodies created a truly unforgettable soundscape. I am deeply astonished by the power of the Ensemble’s voices – every single note they sung could be heard perfectly even though they performed without any microphones. Moreover, they wandered around the altar from time to time. The result was jaw-dropping since the position of their voices shifted. It was also interesting visually, as it added a kind of ceremonial atmosphere without losing any authenticity at all.
Garbarek’s play is another story and if you are reading this you probably know it very well. With his unmistakable saxophone sound, he perfectly merges vivid and spacious melodies with subtle, background touches that at times sound like the fifth voice of the Ensemble (and that’s not a metaphor!). In addition to the leads known from the studio recordings, he did much improvisation and some longer solo parts – all of which were brilliant. Apart from the alto sax, he briefly used the tenor saxophone, which also sounded great.
The performance covered tracks from both Officium
and lasted for about 2 hours. After a long applause they returned to play an encore of Estonian Lullaby
– about which I was particularly happy as it is one of my favorite pieces off their second album.
This was definitely one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Actually, it was much more than that. It was rather a spiritual experience that I won’t even try to describe. If you have a chance of seeing these magnificent artists, don’t hesitate. Unless you are completely insensitive to the beauty of music, I’m positive that you won’t be disappointed.Jan Garbarek & The Hilliard Ensemble