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ACT 9043-2 [63:06]



Matthias Bartolomey (cello): Klemens Bittmann (violin and mandola)

Recorded January and September 2018, Vienna












BartolomeyBittmann is the somewhat modish name for the two-man string duo of Viennese-born Matthias Bartolomey (cello) and Klemens Bittmann (violin and mandola). This is now their third album, the first, called Meridian, having been released back in 2013.

The eleven tracks, all with single, very descriptive titles mostly run between five and seven minutes; quite enough time for the duo to establish their by now trademark grooves, which include an accommodation of classical, jazz and supercharged rock, allied to a small dose of Austrian-sounding folk music. It all makes for a heady stylistic brew.

Their penchant for warmly textured melodies (Elefant) is almost invariably accompanied by a pulse-quickening acceleration of rhythm and broadening of texture to include power percussion courtesy of their string instruments. For a duo they generate a righteous amount of noise, their raunchy rocky vibe (Neptun) heavy on the unisons and appealing to the senses. This propensity for kicking rhythms brings a Nymanesque quality to their playing from time to time (listen to Dynamo, the title track), though their ease in the jazz lexicon is equally audible on this track where Bittmann抯 Ponty-like fiddle solo snakes revealingly through the light grass, coiling over Bartolomey抯 pizzicati, before a rock groove is re-established.

Their ability to fusE ballad elegance with motor rhythmic yitesse and power in the space of a single song is engaging and sometimes harmonies expand to include vaguely Eastern, but definably folkloric trace elements, as in Krystallos, where cello percussive taps add their own colour. There抯 a pensive element to Haim and a memorialising one to Viadukt, which bears a dedication to Didier Lockwood and undulates expressively. But Westen brings back the rocky raunch, which burgeons into folksy paragraphs that take in Bluegrass, the music moving inexorably forward in terms of rhythm, mass and intensity to an explosive Guitar Hero peroration.

If this all sounds just too much for you, Aurora offers shimmering breadth and the envoi, Menuett evokes a lute ensemble in its classically-oriented restful, Baroque-leaning close.

ACT is one of the most exciting and broad-ranging labels on the scene today and they have another winner with this dynamic duo.

Jonathan Woolf


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