Switched On – Gaspar Claus: Tancade (InFiné)

What’s the story?

Tancade is an imaginary beach, portrayed here by a single instrument – the cello of Gaspar Claus. With technical imagination and a little bit of electronic trickery he has made an entire album with the cello, using every millimetre to conjure up wooden and metallic sounds to add depth and shade to his musical pictures.

What’s the music like?

Ghostly harmonics and trills on the outer reaches of the cello usher in Une île, which is a brief contemplation in front of the waves. Un rivage portrays the gentle lapping of water through the pizzicato (plucking) across the strings, with a slow, lamenting figure that plays out in several parts.

These first two tracks are an indication of the powerful, meditative qualities Claus brings to his work, employing great imagination to get the sounds he wants.

2359 is a great example, playing out like a game of pinball with small musical ideas pinging across the sound picture as bigger, distorted waves threaten disruption. Meanwhile E.T. (Extra Terre Version) has a ghostly presence, with Claus playing two short fragments of arpeggios together but at a distance of a microtone, creating a disquieting mood in spite of the birdsong in the background.

1999 is a foreboding presence, Claus expanding the intimacy of the solo cello into quasi-orchestral sounds. Ô Sélénites goes a step further, using a wide array of textures to portray a lunar environment. Finally Mor des mystères amoureux finds relative stillness, with sustained harmonics and pizzicato flicking lazily in the breeze before a brief but affecting spoken word passage from Lyna Zouaoui.

Does it all work?

Yes, thanks to Claus’s imagination and deep knowledge of the capabilities of the cello. He creates very personal and meaningful ideas, but against bigger backdrops the listener can dive into.

Is it recommended?

It is, especially for lovers of solo cello music by Bach – Claus offers an interesting and viable alternative for the instrument as it is now.

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