Beauty is unearthed and unabashedly displayed throughout Hidden Fresco, the latest release from the German duo of Albrecht Maurer and Norbert Rodenkirchen. Their use of medieval instruments to explore contemporary sounds cultivates a fresh perspective on modern improvisation. The warm timbre of the instrumentation softens the edge of harsh dissonance while enhancing tonal resolve.
There’s a sense of urgency that permeates the entire disc. Maurer (gothic fiddle) and Rodenkirchen (medieval flutes and harp) are not intent on wasting sonic space. From the frenzied opening notes of the title track to the passionate evocation of "Behind," the duo is unwavering in their search for musical unification.
The compositional ideas are sparse enough to allow for spontaneous shifts in direction. Each selection is pre-conceived only to the extent of establishing a distinguishable flavor. The contrapuntal interplay of ".... A Due" serves up seemingly endless varieties of motivic development. "Erosion," the longest of the twelve tracks, shifts emotional gears in unpredictable fashion. "Nibbio" and "Craquele," by comparison, are short, plaintive pieces with deliberate sensibilities. The short main theme of "Aura" provides a springboard for enlightened conversation, culminating in a gypsy sounding bustle. By matching his voice to the sustained pitch of his fiddle Maurer creates a chilling drone effect on "Sfumato," similar in tone to a maultrommel. The aptly named "Melancholia" is somber and reflective in nature.
Maurer and Rodenkirchen are both technical masters; their incorporation of percussive effects, chords, and rapid lines portray sympathetic artists who are able to push the boundaries of archaic instrumentation to express a full range of emotion.