Baroque Art. Contemporary Harmony

Alexey Kruglov
FancyMusic FANCY 095

By Ken Waxman

The first letters of the words in this CD’s title – B-A-C-H – hint at the disc’s objective, which posits that Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions are one of the bases of modern improvisation. Evidence is supplied by modern interpretations of 13 Bach pieces by Russians, alto saxophonist Alexey Kruglov, Igor Goldenberg, principally, or Yulia Ikonnikova, on pipe organ plus Estonian electric guitarist Jaak Sooäär.

An illustration of this thesis occurs on “Interpretation of Musette”, where reed flutter tonguing and organ continuum spiritedly mix to create a piece related more to Jimmy Smith than E. Power Biggs. Other Goldenberg variations occur as the keyboardist provides a Fats Waller-like undercurrent to “Interpretation of the Two Part Invention in C-dur” and his silent-movie-like pressure on “Improvisation on the Themes of Toccata and Fugue”, where his smeared crescendo is followed by Kruglov accelerating the narrative line. “Improvisation on the Theme of Orchestral Suite No. 2”, is Kruglov’s a capella showcase where he deconstructs the melody into peeps and whines before moving it skywards playing only saxophone mouthpieces. As for Sooäär, he helps revise “Two Part Invention in F-dur” with slurred fingering and responsive live electronics along with Kruglov’s reed split tones; while his long-lined picking amplifies the saxophonist’s circular breathing on “Improvisation on B-A-C-H (Part 1)”.

Preserving the German master’s melodic artistry while dexterously reconstituting familiar modes with original adaptations confirms the performers’ hypothesis as well as the universality of Bach’s music.

-For The Whole Note February 2018