Jean-Louis Matinier/Marco Ambrosini – Inventio

inventio(ECM 375 9429)

Matinier is a French accordionist and you might have heard him on albums by Anouar Brahem or François Couturier (he is part of his Tarkovsky Quartet); Ambrosini is an Italian violinist who is also one of very few players outside Sweden of the nyckelharpa, a keyed string instrument which is similar to a hurdy-gurdy.

Now before you begin to hear an old Donovan song or see some Morris dancers in your imagination, let me stress that the nyckelharpa has a much richer variety of sounds and textures than the hurdy-gurdy. And it doesn’t have that drone.

What is immediately striking about this album is the similarity in sound and timbre of the two instruments, and Matinier and Ambrosini take full advantage by passing melodies back and forth, and by mixing up who plays the accompaniment at any given moment.

But it’s not just about a thoroughly beguiling sound – the range of the music is broad, and the style miraculously timeless. Inspiration for the title and a springboard for the music comes from Bach (his Inventio 4 and the Presto from his Sonata in g minor are two of the tracks) Biber (they play his Praeludium from Rosary Sonata No.1) and Pergolesi (his Qui Est Homo) but nearly all the rest of the compositions are their own.

The pair’s ability to move in and out of written music and into sympathetic improvisation gives the music a glorious flow. This short video clip gives you some idea of the sound but really doesn’t do the music justice. The album needs to be heard as a whole – it’s just lovely.

  • To buy Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini’s Inventio go here.

Categories: CD review

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