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
WEST PRINCES Artist of the Week in Scotland On Sunday
It’s available on 7” vinyl and digital download and is released alongside a Matthias ‘Wolfboy’ Connor and Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) collaboration.
The band, who met at Glasgow School of Art, performed throughout Glasgow last year as well as at the Electric Fields Festival.
The video for the single, (produced by the group), features an excerpt from Estonian animator Priit Pärn’s 1984 film ‘Aeg Maha’ (Time Out), visit https://youtu.be/0W4nL1S7lmw or play below:
Catch the band live on Wednesday at the PARAPHERNALIA club night at The Poetry Club in Glasgow and Thursday at The Windmill in Brixton.
Under the Radar is in association with Tribe Tattoo to find out more visit www.tribetattoo.co.uk
>Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon run music industry social and seminar night, Born To Be Wide. They are hosting the Off The Record youth event in Glasgow on 11 February and have just announced their Wide Days convention takes place on 21-22 April. www.offtherecord.me
* 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