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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Henning Sieverts – Double Quartet

Loren Stillman (alto saxophone, soprano saxophone): Henning Sieverts (bass, cello): Jochen Rückert (drums): John Hollenbeck (drums): Silvain Rifflet (tenor saxophone, clarinet): Françoise Thuillier (tuba): Pascal Schumacher (vibraphone): Florian Weber (piano)

Recorded April 2014, Kyberg Studio, Oberhaching

PIROUET PIT3092 [71:25]







Bass Twins

Cantus Firmus

Hexa Countdown

Drum Twins

Vipia Twins

Firm Chant

Cantus Seven

Sax Twins

Hexa Circle

Hexa Twelve

Hidden Hexa




Bass Twins [Reprise]


There’s a historico-musical context to Henning Sieverts’ latest disc. It concerns the history of the Bavarian Irsee Monastery and a Mass written in 1614, elements of which are incorporated into Sieverts’ 15-movement ‘suite’. Lest that sounds like a recipe for cross-stylistic outrage, it should be stressed that any absorptions are very subtle and most will not hear any ghostly imprint of early seventeenth-century liturgical music in any way.

So perhaps it’s best to listen to this album in a more straight-ahead kind of way. Bass Twins opens with a drunken lurch for tuba and bass but a different slant on Sieverts’s band comes in the more conventional Cantus Five where pianist Florian Weber proves an active and engaging player and the two-drum team offeris crisp support to the jubilant anthemic saxophone statements. It’s not hard to hear that Weber’s classical allegiances are strongly held – in Hexa Countdown his harmonies and chordal progressions are strikingly classically-based – but this is in the context of a colourful, sonically exciting band, rhythmically vivid too. Cleverly the ABA structure of this piece offers the most rooted of architectural principles.

With two saxes, and two drums, the opportunities for exchange and interplay are always there; the brief one-minute exchange for the drummers in Drum Twins is followed by the almost-as-short romantic piano-and vibes reverie of Vipia Twins. These elements recur in other tracks too, where the full ensemble sound breaks down into aggregations of individual sound-worlds and the segments become populated by a rich exchange. Note how this works in the firm up-tempo delights of Cantus Seven or indeed how the two-man sax section of Loren Stillman and Silvian Rifflet coils around each other in the intermezzo that is Sax Twins. Whether evoking chorale-like themes via sax and clarinet voicings, or jauntily trading off tuba and bass grumblings – the leader’s bass playing here is as articulate and rich as ever and evokes a New Orleans vibe – there is plenty to enjoy, amuse and entertain in this sonically gleeful set of pairings, entwining, evocations, refractions and good old honest fun.

Jonathan Woolf

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