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Title: La valse a mille temps
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A Sketch of Brel - Gruppe HÖRSTURZ plays the music of Jacques Brel
Approaching this legendary singer persona is not an easy task. Brel reveals himself to be a man of contradiction: a bourgeois and critical of his standing, a truth seeker battling lies, a playboy and a dropout all in one person. His concert appearances were triumphant; his attacks against the Flemish nationalists scandalous. His accomplishments as a film actor were pleasing; he lived intensiv as a bonviviant and chain smoker. His life was surrounded by myth, fed by the resoluteness of his outlook, and the drastic changes in his life.
Born in Brussels in 1929, the intensity of his performances and his interpretation of chanson caught on in Paris around 1953. He became one of the most prominent French language singers. Then, in 1966/1967, at the pinnacle of his popularity, he turned away from music, towards acting. In 1974 he embarked on a great journey by sailboat towards the South Pacific, living his life as a sport pilot. In 1977, very surprisingly, he created his last record. In 1978, consumed by lung cancer, he found his last place of rest on Hiva Oa, one of the Marquesas Islands. The Gruppe HÖRSTURZ goes against the grain by arranging the music of Jacques Brel without vocals. Brel's performances were legendary in their abandon and intensity, in the gestural force of his delivery, and in the use of poetic texts. His fame was founded on these elements, not on his music. The music of Brel is therefore most intriguing for artists who, like Brel, possess talents of both the singer and the actor. This approach, however, rarely leads to a discovery.
Not so with HÖRSTURZ. The band brings a facet of Brel's art into focus, which was not at the center of his myth. The limitation to the purely musical content of the chansons exposes a new dimension in Brel's material. In the unmistakability of his music, HÖRSTURZ discovers a space for new interpretations.
In the awareness of Brel's life story, as well as the texts of his chansons, something totally new emerges through the interaction of the jazz trio. In the free approach to his music, and the improvisational playing of the three instruments, the music developed by Brel gains a new expressive force. Searching, HÖRSTURZ feel their way through the musical material. The meditative and reflective approach to collective music-making in a creative time-flow opens up new emotionally charged “Sspaces”. The process-driven and musically-oriented treatment of Brel's compositions by the jazz musicians brings about cracks, dents, abrasions, and clearings. Vulnerability, sensitive tenderness, passion, and serenity all take form within the music of Brel.
The re-interpretation by the Gruppe HÖRSTURZ does not result in lounge music, but is relaxed and poetic, while at the same time passionate and brusque. It sketches a unique artist, who has been described as naive and cunning, seductive and aggressive, humble and haughty. A person who suffered and enjoyed life, but also drew a fascinating vitality from this contradiction. By exposing this specific emotionality in a modern expression, the Gruppe HÖRSTURZ contemporizes Jacques Brel once again, more than 30 years after his death.
Reinhard Brüggemann, Berlin, Translation: Amy Green, Berlin