08 September 2016, 20:00
Fomenko Theatre. Address: Tarasa Shevchenko Embankment, 29
The Instagram feed of Berlin-based violin and piano player Christoph Berg is full of breathtaking scenic shots from all over the world, but if you scroll through them without paying attention to the geotags, it seems as if the shots were all made from the window of the same train, rushing headlong to the unreachable otherworld. This happens because Christoph Berg doesn’t take pictures of objects, landscapes or attractions, but instead tries to capture the more elusive substances — sunrises and sunsets, the interplay of sun beams and hazy shadows, smoke stacks and mists over the rivers, ripples of the waves and the unsteady glow of lighthouses.
The flickering chamber music of Christoph Berg takes the listeners to the imagined landscapes whose imprints appear in his Instagram. This scenery is illusive and doesn’t exist in reality — it’s not the mountains or ravines or forests, but rather an ocean with no shores or bottom. Adhering to the concept of the ambient music’s patriarch Brian Eno, Christoph Berg sees the music not as a history, story, or action, but as an environment, in which the people could live a better life.
First and foremost, the music of Field Rotation is like dreams of something greater. The latest album Fatalist: The Repetition of History (2013), which earned critical acclaim and comparisons with Max Richter, came out of insomniac Berg’s idea to write compositions that would help him fall asleep. The musician kept layering the rings of violin and piano harmonies, punctuating them with synthesized sounds and nature noises, lulling himself and the audience to sleep. But you can’t actually fall asleep to the music of Field Rotation, because somewhere deep, under the soft featherbeds of sounds, it is trembling with enigmatic bass. It brings the listeners back to reality, reminding them that we are here, on Earth, and not in some otherworld.
Alexei Aigi is one of the most prominent contemporary Russian composers. He has named his ensemble in honor of John Cage’s historical piece, but his own portfolio is full of experiments and glee. His career began with austere classical minimalism in the spirit of Steve Reich and Terry Riley, but he later developed a passion for writing film score music and began a post-modernist experiment with different genres and excerpts, mixing high and popular music forms. His collaboration with the film industry allowed Alexei Aigi to carry out the boldest and most expensive projects, combining orchestras and electronics, or composing Mongolian-Tartar ethnic funk, while simultaneously rising in prominence. He’s known as the author of OST from The Land of the Deaf and the man behind the expressive symphonic post-rock poems of the Hard Disk album. With his sense of humour and craftsmanship, Alexei Aigi reminds many of another genius musical maverick, the creator of Pop Mekhanika Sergei Kuryokhin. It’s not for nothing that the latest favourite project of this violinist and composer is the performance of Kuryokhin’s manic compositions with utmost respect for the original source, collaboration with other Pop Mekhanika participants and the gradual amplification of absurdity on stage.
As part of SOUND UP’s September lineup, Alexei Aigi, together with his 4’33’’ ensemble, will perform his selected works. The program includes well-known pieces, greatest hits and completely unknown compositions. The performance will include the first run of the composition that was written specifically for 4’33’’ and expanded string ensemble.