June 12, 2010

Georg Graewe's Grubenklang Orchester live at Moers Festival 2010

(If you want to see good photos of the concert, check here)

I think I have a soft spot for left-wing imaginary folklore. This big band was something to hit this spot. I've never heard the original version of Grubenklang Orchester from the early 1980's so I cannot compare this 2010 Moers incarnation with the earlier music. This is regrettable, because the past 30 years have surely brought a big transition in the "Gruben" (pit, i.e. coal mine) areas in Germany. (Note: Moers where the festival takes place is just a few kilometres east of the biggest German mining area, Ruhrgebiet, and while the closing down of mines has already started in the 1950's, at least there still were around 130,000 mining workers employed in the early 80's - nowadays the number has been reduced to below 40,000 - according to wikipedia that is.) So, though I know about the transition that is taking place in German coal mining, I cannot tell about the transition taking place in Georg Graewe's orchestra work during the same period of time.
How does this orchestra work sound like in 2010? Well, it's predominently collage work, taking traditional coal miner's songs as a source, enhancing it with chorale compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, Gil Evansian big band arragement work and some freer soloing passages. Due to the working class theme there sometimes was a bit of Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester spirit spreading in the tent, though in the case of the Grubenklang orchestra the musicians were certainly all professionals, not amateurs as in the SLB.
Graewe is mostly conducting, only adding piano two or three times during the set. Among the musicians of the band I remember the two bass players to catch a lot of my attention, though I must admit, that I mixed them and only found out in the very end that the one who I thought is John Lindberg was actually Dieter Manderscheid - and vice versa. (For those who want to know who else played in the band, check the festival website. Sure Gratkowski was good, sure Tramontana was good, sure Vatcher was good, etc...)


ayu1234 said...

yes, I remember the element of chamber music, hehe. probably that's all what this group left to me? sure, they have reminded me of the movie 'Brassed Off'.

Spring Day said...

"Brassed off" didn't come to my mind at all, even though this is such a close-at-hand idea. Maybe because to me "Brassed off" is more linked with my own experience of playing in a village brass band and this experience covers the mining worker's theme?