Das Wohltemperierte Spunk

RCD 2140CD RCD 2140CD

At one minute past 8:00PM on January 20th, 2001, the Norwegian quartet Spunk began playing a drone in the key of B, inaugurating a project that would weave into their musical lives for the foreseeable future. Eleven years, 11 months and 11 minutes later, the same foursome struck up a G, embarking on the final leg of a journey that had taken them through the 12 notes of the equal tempered scale -- one tone per year. Das Wohltemperierte Spunk's thrilling, texturally-complex improvisations can be appreciated in their own right without any knowledge of the underpinning structure or concept. And yet the underlying numerology places the piece in a long line of consciously mathematical music, from the Bach keyboard corpus from which it takes its name, to Anton Webern's "String Quartet Opus 28" (1938), which closes a circle by spelling out B-A-C-H in the first four notes of its 12-tone row. Spunk's own opus uses the same order of tones as the Webern quartet. The 12 concerts took place at a variety of unusual locations around Oslo, including the immense, almost pitch-black interior of the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, with its 20-second reverberation time; the Nobel Institute; a cabin on a remote island in the Oslo fjord; in a tent on top of the slanting roof of the newly-built Opera House; the Physics Department of Oslo University; a vibrant high street shopping mall called Oslo City; and a private domestic living room. Hild Sofie Tafjord on the project: "It was unifying, focused and meditative, and it was room for our personalities to color and develop the ensemble sound. I think the core of Das Wohltemperierte Spunk is our love of being in that meditative flow together, playing that single pitch as a meeting point. Kristin Andersen (trumpet and flutes), Lene Grenager (cello), Maja Ratkje (voice, violin, harmonica, accordion, theremin and various), Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn and various).