Reviews Tin

Ernesto Rodrigues is apparently tireless, whether recording projects for his Creative Sources label, organizing a multitude of permutating large ensembles or presenting a broad spectrum of the Lisbon improvising community in groups of assorted sizes. His Creativefest takes place in November, and the most recent edition, XIII, ran for six days at the festival’s home base, O’Culto de Ajuda.

String Theory, heard here in its 2019 performance, presents a single piece entitled Tin, consistent with Rodrigues thematic explorations of contemporary physics and the table of elements. The CD is a single piece, 34 minutes in length, in keeping with a consistent time restriction for the festival’s sets. What makes Rodrigues’ ensembles fascinating (something that extends to other large improvising ensembles‒a key to both their values and their value as contemporary social organisms) is the combination of restrained, disciplined, even selfless playing‒a genuine community orchestra‒and the combination of exceptional instrumentalists.

In what must be the most cellist-rich improvising community for a city of its size, Lisbon here offers Miguel Mira (notable for his membership in Rodrigo Amado Motion trio), Ulrich Mitzlaff (regular collaborator with the most eminent Carlos “Zingaro”) and Ricardo Jacinto (charter member of two brilliant trios, The Selva and Garden). The three create a ground for this music, a rich orchestral middle, thickened by two bassists, Sofia Queiroz Orê-ibir and Hernâni Faustino.

The high strings of Rodrigues’ viola and Maria do Mar’s violin are free to balance all this weight by living in their upper registers, where, of course, the others are free to join them. Beyond the usual category of the string ensemble, the tentet includes pianist Mariana Carvalho, who emphasizes plucked sustained strings, and guitarists Pedro Bicho, playing an acoustic, and Abdul Moimême, playing a horizontal 12-string. Together the ten create a web of whistling harmonics and sustained thrum that become a timeless and textured musical centre. Stuart Broomer





Another album released in April 2020, in the middle of the Covid19 era. String Theory Ensemble is here “reduced” to String Theory, a super tentet. As usual, it is a live recording by Miguel Azguime during the CreativeFest XIII at O’Culto da Ajuda, Lisbon. Mix, master \& graphic design was by Carlos Santos, while the production by Ernesto himself. They play one track, 34 minutes long “Tin”. The music, maybe due to the smaller size of the ensemble, sound more like chamber music, with a much better defined roles of the particular instruments. In effect one departs form the idea of “fake music” and alternative sounds, and one can hear and distinguish different instrument: double basses, viola, violin, piano and so on. The track starts peacefully and the mood augments until the strings turn completely over in a form of contemporary music string summit. These parts are very expressive and dramatic. In the second part the music returns to a more tranquil format and repetitive motifs, characteristic for free improvised minimalism. The final, however, is another strings’ explosion. Very beautiful stuff, very appealing and absorbing music!!! Maciej Lewenstein