Album Remarks & Appraisals:
In this reframing of Olivier Messiaen's masterpiece Quartet for the End of Time, clarinetist David Krakauer - praised internationally for his ability to play in a myriad of music genres with "prodigious chops" (The New Yorker) and "soulfulness and electrifying showiness" (The New York Times) - and musical pioneer cellist Matt Haimovitz - described as "one of the leading cellists of his generation" (The New York Times) and "intensely sensitive and perfectly poised (Gramophone Magazine) - have created a recording and live concert experience of great emotional power.
In a rare live recording, AKOKA bookmarks the complete Messiaen masterwork Quartet for the End of Time between Krakauer's own Akoka, and Meanwhile... by sound artist Socalled.
The album lifts Messiaen's original work out of the polite context of a chamber music performance and places it in a dramatic setting that drives home its gravity and impact, while bringing it into the 21st century. As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance and violence intensify in today's world, this particular mounting of the great work seems all the more timely.
From the liner notes by Rebecca Rischin, author of For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet: Akoka was inspired by the wartime experience of clarinetist Henri Akoka, who premiered the Quartet for the End of Time with Olivier Messiaen in Stalag VIII A, the German prisoner-of-war camp in which they were both interred.
Henri Akoka's vibrant personality and the story of his survival, with all its twists and turns, is the inspiration for this recording, which, in cellist Matt Haimovitz's words, "brings out the human aspect of this composition seen through the 'eyes' of one individual caught up in terrifying events beyond his control...
The album positions the Quartet between two original compositions inspired by Messiaen's famous work: the opening track, "Akoka," conceived by the Klezmer and classical clarinetist David Krakauer, is almost entirely improvised; and the closing track, "Meanwhile... " by the "beat architect" (pianist, composer, arranger, singer, rapper, and more) Socalled (a.k.a. Josh Dolgin), merges live samples of the musicians with old radio broadcasts, hiphop, cantorial singing, and markers of time...
Recorded live September 8 and 9, 2008, in Montréal Quebec.
The New York Times
Krakauer is a breathtakingly flamboyant clarinetist, racing through every octave of his instrument and turning trills into laughs or cries of anguish.
Haimovitz can tease 1,000 shades of tone out of a single stroke of his bow as he gives each movement its own tone - from driving and aggressive to a still near-silence.
Audio Mixer: Richard King .
Recording information: Multimedia Room, Schulich School of Music, McGill Unive (09/08/2008-09/09/2008).