Sonnerie Critique

Dadef Quartet Sonnerie Concertons Dadson-2 2019

What a surprise! Vinyl and such interesting design too.

The first thing you notice about this disc is the axis of Lavaur/Toulouse in the form of design and sound recording by Alem Alquier and Umit Ceyhan respectively, this is a seriously well presented project, understated but classy.

The opening track, Plum, sets the mood that perculates throughout the whole recording. The violon & kemence playing of Raphael Sibertin-Blanc has an unapologetic eastern slant that leads the whole project from the front. Referencing bygone giants like Abdessadek Chekkarra , his kemence technique is fluid and his tone is wholesome and true.

There can't be many drummers so well mannered as Carsten Weinmann. He underpins the entire ensemble with colourful and rhythmic precision yet allows the music to breath and flow. The Sonnerie 1-5 are a life form on their own. At times they are Steve Reich with a serial sense but other times they rage and excite the listener with images of dance rarely out of sight.

The clarinet playing of Simon Charrier carrys a certain klezmer flavour but he varies this throughout and his ensemble cohesion with Sibertin-Blanc in Meandres is wholly convincing and is superbly supported by the rhythm section groove.

Guillaume Gendre on doublebass completes the line up. His playing is solid with a singing style reminissent of Charlie Haden. He is strongest when holding down a foundation groove, often using the bow, something we don't hear often enough these days. The clarity of the recording is testament to the expertise of Umit Ceyhan, each constituent part is heard in a natural acoustic without the ubiquitous ECM reverb.

One slight criticism is the overall reliance on syncopated rhythms in the majority of the compositions. It may be that this is a trademark of this project but I did crave every now and then a development into a freer form. The nearest we got to this was when Guillaume Gendre broke free and took the musical reins in the bass solo in Capla.

The final cut, Alem Song, brings us full circle with a dark mood set by the arco bass and seemless unison voices from the kemece and clarinet.

Some sleeve notes would have been welcome to this listener, if just to explain the relevance of the titles of the works but taking all things into account , this is a unique and rich first offering from an ensemble rooted firmly in eastern promise but focused on further horizons.

Bernard O'Neill 8 avril 2019

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