Monday, April 16, 2007

Duo: Saluzzi & Lechner

The Americas Society makes its home in a stately McKim, Mead & White building that once housed the Soviet delegation to the UN. If the previous landlords left behind any listening devices, they heard some incredible music from Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner in the Society’s Simón Bolivar Room Saturday night.

The Americas Society and ECM Records were celebrating the launch of Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner’s American tour, supporting their new release Ojos Negros. Saluzzi hails from Argentina and his instrument is the bandoneón. As one might expect, the tango is a pronounced influence on his work, but there are substantial measures of classical, folk and jazz as well. His bandoneón merges with German Anja Lechner’s violoncello to form a striking blend of chamber music.

In an interview segment preceding the performance, the host asked Saluzzi to categorize his music, to which Saluzzi first replied, simply: “it’s music.” To the same question, Lechner’s clever and diplomatic response was: “it’s Dino’s music.”

The music they made was indeed quite beautiful—romantic but also stark in its intimacy. While Saluzzi and Lechner may not improvise in a jazz sense during their duets, no two performances are the same. There are indeed subtle changes in phrasing and dynamics, which makes it fascinating to watch and listen to them as they play.

As dramatic as their music is, seeing them in performance makes clear how much they enjoy playing together, with Saluzzi even breaking into laughter before their second selection. It is moments like that which can really shed insight into a musician’s work that one only receives by attending live performances.

Fortunately, there will be ample opportunity to hear Saluzzi and Lechner live. The tour officially begins on the West Coast the 18th. They will be back in the City performing at Merkin on the 24th (Miami on the 25th, etc.). Touring these international musicians must take quite some coordinating, so take advantage of the opportunity if they are in your town.