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The Big Wig

ACT 9824-2 [ 52:08 + DVD]





Hildegard Lernt Fliegen meets the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy

Seven Oaks



Wig Alert

If Two Colossuses

Don Clemenza

Andreas Schaerer (voice, beatboxing, human trumpet): Andreas Tschopp (trombone): Matthias Wenger (alto and soprano saxophone, flute): Benedikt Reising (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet): Marco MŁller (bass): Christoph Steiner (drums and marimba): Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy/Mariano Chiachiarini

Recorded and filmed live at Lucerne Festival, KKL Lucerne, Lucerne Hall, 5 September2015

CD and DVD set


This is the first time Iíve reviewed a beatboxer and human trumpeter but then Andreas Schaerer is no ordinary man. Over the course of this performance, given at the Lucerne Festival in September 2015, he shows why this is more than mere fad or kitsch. And it also reveals what an energising band he has and how well they, and he, interact with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy. The gatefold album includes both a CD of the event and a DVD of the performance. Itís a pity in a way that the lyrics arenít printed but one can instead luxuriate in the rich sonority of the brassy front line, the galvanising rhythm section and the skirling authority of the orchestra.

Though the six pieces have all, I believe, been recorded before whatís novel here is the addition of full orchestra. It may risk blunting the immediacy but it certainly expands the sonority allowing a piece like Preludium to generate a powerful sense of atmosphere, the sinuous fiddles adding to the mix notably. Schaererís countertenor-like vocalising rolls on the crest of this expanded sound.. Working his beatboxing skills in unison with Andreas Tschoppís raunchy trombone builds a dramatic soundstage and when the saxes and percussion join in, and not least the orchestraís massive brass section, things are ready for sonic lift-off. Matthias Wenger comes on strong with a fighting alto solo and Schaerer himself shows that his brand of vocalising is not at all po-faced in his witty exchanges.

The six-team percussion on Wig Alert is joined by Schaerer doing his mouth percussion; his physical animation is one of the things that make the video of the performance so riveting but you could intuit as much from the studio element alone. Sporting cloth cap and waistcoat, he enjoys enviable rapport with the orchestra who are clearly entranced, indeed possibly amazed, by his performance. Blistering band solos in this track ensure the energy levels remain positively Vesuvian. And thus they remain in If Two Collossuses, a kind of Battle of the Percussion, some elements more subtle, others rougher, the leaderís daemonic vocals generating a truly theatrical atmosphere. Indeed, the whole thing is very visual not least the finale, the rhythmically propulsive Don Clemenza where some calmer sections show how cleverly varied is the writing. Benedikt Reisingís baritone is a tower of strength, sometimes even droll strength, and Schaererís stentorian countertenor flutters and swoops over all.

Those sceptical about this beatboxing virtuoso should lend an ear, as well as an eye, to this rather mesmerising performance. I began in just such a curmudgeonly spirit but I was swiftly won over by this fiesta of dynamism and sonority.

Jonathan Woolf

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