It had to happen... This CD sees Jon Rose and Alvin Curran on terrifying form: Alvin spookily surefooted in his deployment of an often counterintuitive palette of sounds, and Jon just brilliant. This is a duo made in heaven and provides a perfect context for both - a rare combination of proper musicianship and exquisite musical thinking. And beautifully recorded.
Alvin recently left 80 behind, Jon is facing down 70. The two have known each other since 1985, when they were both living in Berlin – and they’ve worked together, on and off, ever since.
On this CD they look back to their earlier careers, when they were gainfully employed in bread and butter club bands: Jon in the house band of Club Marconi in Sydney where, in addition to playing Italian favourites and film music, he backed funky soul singers and topless go-go troupes, and Alvin, who says: "So embedded is the cocktail pianist in my music, there are times when I think in medium bounces, or up-2’s, slow 4’s or Viennese 3’s with the accent on the delayed 1, offset by single triplet rest."
Curran doesn’t scratch or filter his samples but takes them straight; it’s the choice of the samples that leads away from the main path (who expects the Spanish inquisition?). Rose responds – or ignores – with regular and amplified tenor violins. And when Alvin reaches for the Shofar, Jon picks up his 3-metre drainpipe with strings. And did I mention the singing saw?
Alvin Curran is a former student of Elliott Carter and co-founded - with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum - the legendary Musica Elettronica Viva. A professor of music at Mills College, California, he now teaches privately in Rome and, as a fully paid up modern composer, he has a huge catalogue of works for all manner of ensembles, orchestras, self-playing pianos and cellphone apps; as well as radio works, dance and theatre pieces, and many solo performances under his belt.
Since 1996, he has been working on Inner Cities, a growing series of solo piano pieces that together form one of the longest non-repetitive piano works ever written. He has also written for the New York Times, Leonardo, The Contemporary Music Review, and Musiktext(e).
Jon Rose started to play the violin at 7. Since then he has been a prolific composer and leading light in the world of improvisation, as well as inventing a huge menagerie of impossible acoustic and electronic string instruments. He has-produced prize-winning works for radio, large-scale festival extravaganzas, orchestral compositions and works of music-theatre, and he curates the Rosenberg Museums – physical and digital – which catalogue the extremes to which the violin has been driven.
In addition, he has played the great Fences of Australia (and Hebron and other trouble spots around the world); organised huge interactive public art events, written several barely believable books on the violin and won numerous prizes.