Published on Thursday 23 March 2017
Written by Keith Bruce
Scottish Ensemble and Johannes Fischer rehearsing on stage at Glasgow’s Oran Mor
THE title was a bit of a jape, but this collaboration between Jonathan Morton’s Scottish Ensemble and percussionist Johannes Fischer did have its funky moments – and while the man from Hamburg was the catalyst, they often began with the group’s long-serving double bassist Diane Clark. Before the interval she seemed to find a close cousin of the riff from Peggy Lee’s Fever in a Suite from Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, and for Fischer’s Tafelmusik Recomposed, which was the whole of the second half, she added slap bass to Georg Philipp Telemann.
It is the 250th anniversary of the German composer’s death, and Fischer’s approach to Telemann’s “table-music” – think an 18th century version of supper-club jazz for fine dining establishments – is to mike up an actual table festooned with percussion and random kitchen utensils and feed the resulting noises through a mixer atop a toy piano, adding his contributions to the sextet of two fiddles, viola, cello, bass and harpsichord, with some added samples of recorded dinner-table conversation. The soundscape through which Telemann’s music still flowed was a little akin to conjunctions to be found on Robert Fripp’s early non-King Crimson work on the Exposure album.
If it was the work of Jordi Savall that was recalled by the approach to Purcell’s dance music, the spirit of Fripp’s Edinburgh-born associate Jamie Muir could be detected in Fischer’s inspired virtuosic solo, Air (for snare drum and accessories), which had followed hard on the evening’s opening with a “straight” run through of Bach’s Air on the G String. For those who can recall the Hamlet TV ad that tune soundtracked, serving the cigars before dinner was an apt inversion of the usual order of things.