CD review: Opalińska & Whates

(Natural Studio Records NSR CD 021)

Mira Opalińska is a Polish pianist and Douglas Whates is a British double bassist. On this album, released last year (I’ve been a little slow in catching on to them) they take music associated with films and conjure from it a whole new sonic narrative of their own.

They start out with Kyrzysztof Komeda’s music for the Roman Polanski film Rosemary’s Baby, and after a spare intro of minimal piano and eerily-bowed bass, the theme is played and extended by the pair with more care for its rich and melancholy loveliness than for the creepiness of the film it originally accompanied.

The Komeda/Polanski theme is continued with Ballad For Bernt from the film Knife In The Water, and altogether lighter and easy swinging affair this, before Opalińska’s solo starts to take us into deeper territory once more. Whates’  solo further enriches the sound picture.

Douglas Whates and Mira Opalińska

Douglas Whates and Mira Opalińska

Then it’s on to music by Toru Takemitsu, Vangelis’s music from Blade Runner and the Morricones, Ennio and Andrea, and their themes from Cinema Paradiso. Of course, it is difficult to make anything other than loveliness out of that Paradiso music, but even so, this duo really do make it even more special.

Zbigniew Preisner’s A Short Film About Love and Yoko Kanno’s Tokyo, Sora complete the programme.

There is a lot of space in the duo’s music, and a lot of variety in the sounds they make, from arco bass to deadened or plucked piano strings. These effects are used sparingly and always appropriately. The overall atmosphere is of quiet reflection and meditational mood.

It’s a truly beautiful album, and simply and beautifully recorded, too.

It might not be readily available in the shops but through the wonders of the internet, Lumière is easily obtained from the Opalińska & Whates website which is here.

(Many thanks to Garry Corbett for alerting me to this disc.)

Categories: CD review

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1 reply

  1. Just wanted to post a quick comment to say that the recording is now also available here: to download at hi-res.

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