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Published in The Scotsman Arts Magazine, 04 February 2017 | Words by Jim Gilchrist. Read on Scotsman.com
Tim Kliphuis Trio Tenth Anniversary Tour featured in The Scotsman
Imagine the high-tension opening of the Winter movement in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – that inexorable blizzard of staccato string chords – being taken up by a jazz violin trio, violinist, guitarist and double-bassist all having their gleeful way with the deathless music that the Venetian left us three centuries ago.
It isn’t as outré a concept as you might think: numerous musicians have enjoyed their own take on the Seasons over the years, from the Swingle Singers and Jacques Loussier to Argentinian bandoneon player and composter Astor Piazzolla. Now, however, Le quattro stagioni has been re-imagined by the acclaimed Dutch swing violinist Tim Kliphuis and his virtuosic trio with Dublin-based-Scots guitarist Nigel Clark and Edinburgh double-bassist Roy Percy, who will perform the piece with a trio of Scottish string players – Seonaid Aitken, Francesca Hunt and Su-a-Lee – in a Scottish tour later this month, marking the trio’s tenth anniversary.
Speaking from his home in Hilversun – that town dear to the hearts of veteran radio listeners – Kliphuis describes his Seasons project as “holding a mirror up” to Vivaldi’s four violin concerti, and his arrangement as a deeply respectful reworking of them: “If you just take the Mickey out of the piece and start playing Duke Ellington or something in the middle of it, that doesn’t make musical sense and just becomes a parody. I take it seriously.” he says.
Rather than regarding the project as some iconoclastic fusion of jazz and classical, Kliphuis, who is also a trained classical player, sees it as part of a wider, gradual re-acknowledgement of the art of improvisation by a classical genre, which largely forgot it during the 20th century. Improvisation was particularly par for the course for the exuberant violin pyrotechnics of the baroque. These days, Kliphuis finds himself teaching the skill to classical students at the Amsterdam Conservatory where he himself once studied.
“Of course, Vivaldi himself was an improviser and in fact, if you go one step further, composition itself is improvisation, because you think up a theme or motif then think, “What am I going to do with this?” So you stretch it, bend it, turn it upside down… and that’s what composition is but it’s also what you do when you improvise, only then you’re doing it live.
“We see ourselves as basically improving chamber musicians and that’s what gets us, I think, so close to the heart of this piece.”
Their recording, Reflecting the Seasons, newly released on Sony Classical, is with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, with whom the trio had worked before and who commissioned the re-working for a Vivaldi festival. For the Scottish gigs, the three jazz musicians will play with a trio of: Seonaid Aitken, who plays with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and leads tand sings with swing jazz outfit Rose Room, Royal Scottish National Orchestra viola player Francesca Hunt and cellist (and musical saw specialist), Su-a-Lee of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Mr McFall’s Chamber.
“So we’ve made our tenth anniversary tour a celebration of the trio with three friends we’ve worked with in the past.” says Kliphuis
The Tim Kliphuis Trio play at Eden Court, Inverness on 15 February,
Cottiers, Glasgow, 16 February,
The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 17 February and
Hospitalfield House, Arbroath 18 February. For full tour information see www.timkliphuis.com
THULA BORAH Artist of the Week in Scotland On Sunday
Thula Borah are a four-piece indie-rock band from Glasgow.
Last year was a busy one for them, festival appearances at the likes of Jocktoberfest, north of Inverness and Indie Week Europe in Manchester and radio support courtesy of BBC Radio Scotland. Their sound is big, with meaty guitars, and dream-pop, melodious hooks.
The quartet kick-start 2017 with the release of a new six track EP, titled ‘Near Life Experience’ which is out via Kill Jester Records on 27 January.
See them live at The Bungalow in Paisley on 26 January, Hootananny in Inverness on 18 February, with more to be announced soon.
To celebrate the release of the EP, the band are offering a free download of their single ‘Confabulation’ available to stream and download at: https://soundcloud.com/thulaborah/confabulation-thula-borah for more information visit http://thulaborah.com
Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon run the Born To Be Wide the music scene seminar and social night www.borntobewide.co.uk
Under the Radar is in association with Musicians’ Union
Musicians’ Union – Behind Every Musician. To find out more about the benefits of joining visit www.musiciansunion.org.uk/Join
* For consideration as our Artist of the Week please click HERE scroll to the bottom and review checklist of what we NEED in order to feature bands in Scotland On Sunday. Then email: Derick Mackinnon with all the info