Published May 18, 2019Early on in the concert, Elena Kakaliagou described a song she and her musical partner Ingrid Schmoliner would play as being about displacement and change, linking it to the situation they, as Europeans from Greece and Austria respectively, see first-hand playing out, as whole immigrant populations are forced to leave their homes behind. Heavy themes, but as the duo thoughtfully wove tales via French horn and prepared piano, their songs carried a certain light within the sadness.
Kakaliagou's approach to the horn was a combination of muted simplicity and occasional extended techniques used to mimic the wind and water elements that were the backdrops of the songs. Schmoliner's piano was precisely lined with objects that allowed her key-specific control over melody and percussion in her play, often featuring a kind of repetition, with minor variation, to create a shivering and dreamlike musical space.
Both shared vocal duties; Kakaliagou favoured an emotionally rich delivery, in line with the folkloric roots of the songs, while Schmoliner's was more chant-like, employing long notes that resolved in rich vibrational overtones.
Their Nabelóse song cycle is concerned with the histories and rituals of place, nature and traditions, described in muted but chromatic detail through the illumination of their musical play. The duo had a magical ability to embody the physical space within the songs, and their often funereal aspects, but then offer the audience a path of transcendence. As such, they delivered a moving sequence of stories about gradual unbecoming of history and the becoming of moments in music.