Unintentional pairing produces lovely music

Phoenix Collective Quatet with Tenzin Choegyal. Picture: Peter Hislop.

Music / Tenzin Choegyal & Phoenix Collective Quartet. At Wesley Uniting Church, February 18. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD.

THIS is what would appear, at first look, an unlikely pairing of a conventional Tibetan singer and instrumentalist, Tenzin Choegyal, with a classical string quartet. 

They got here collectively, nearly accidentally eventually yr’s Nationwide People Competition with a short, semi-improvised set and this has led to this extra formal collaboration with Choegyal’s songs and melodies accompanied by some very intelligent and supportive quartet preparations by PCQ cellist Andrew Wilson.

Choegyal performs the dranyen, a long-necked Tibetan lute with a pores and skin soundboard, utilizing repeated melodic patterns – what a rock guitarist would name “riffs” – as the essential accompaniment. 

Round these patterns, Wilson has crafted the quartet elements following the melody and/or the rhythmic patterns, giving every of the 4 gamers the chance to take the lead whereas leaving room for some improvisation alongside the best way. A spotlight was some great sliding harmonics on the strings behind a melody performed by Choegyal on a bamboo flute.

Choegyal is a performer used to working in amplified settings, utilizing microphones for voice and the dranyen moderately than the purely acoustic mode extra traditional within the string quartet world, and I believe his pretty quiet voice would have been misplaced behind the quartet. 

To offset this he used microphones by means of a small amplified speaker in entrance of him, discreetly coated with a Tibetan flag. Whereas this introduced his singing voice as much as a degree the place it balanced properly with the bowed strings, the spoken introductions had been muffled and vague to the purpose the place I do not know what the carried out works had been referred to as. It doesn’t matter a lot for the singing the place the Tibetan phrases are as a lot sound color as anything, however this might need been the best technique to alter the imbalance.

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That technical difficulty apart, this was an hour of very lovely music with the traditional vocal custom of Tenzin Choegyal accompanied sensitively and skilfully by the Phoenix Collective Quartet.

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Ian Meikle, editor