Justina Paltanavičiūtė
www.kamane.lt, 2011-08-09

Band Music for a While

In brief: Comedy, dance, songs, theatre – everything at the same time. A night club at the crossing of the 19th and 20th century, in the twilight of which stylish ladies sparkle and gentlemen sit at tables. Traditional cabaret could be French, Dutch, German or American. Music of cabaret style resounded in one of Pažaislis Music Festival concerts too. The vocal-instrumental ensemble from Norway Music for a While gave a concert at Babtynas-Žemaitkiemis Manor on the 31st of July.

The concert of Music for a While was called “Variations on Cabaret Theme”. Music of the German composer Kurt Weill created in German, French and American periods in 1920-1940 predominated in the programme. Opuses of other composers were squeezed in occasionally granting cabaret style to them. Still, the works of K. Weill form the ground of the concert repertoire of the collective. The main aim of the ensemble is to grant original and contemporary sound to the works of K. Weill. All members of the ensemble (Tora Augestad (vocals), Stian Carstensen (accordion, guitars), Martin Taxt (tube), Pal Hausken (percussion)) are professional jazz performers; therefore, it is natural that they are interested in improvisation greatly.

The improvisation manifests by the untraditional composition of the ensemble first of all: voice, accordion or guitar, tube and percussion instruments. One could lack the bass guitar in the sound of the ensemble. In general, despite the original avant-garde sound created by four performers, the thought did not leave the musicologist that the ensemble lacked several instruments filling in the resounding emptiness during the concert.

Avant-garde cabaret is an unusual and interesting phenomenon; however, the coldness and restraint of such music is an even more unusual aspect. The news that “Variations on Cabaret Theme” would be performed by a Scandinavian ensemble intrigued at once. Nonetheless, the question persisted throughout the concert: was it modesty or lack of professionalism that the voice of the vocalist T. Augestad sounded differently and not very assuredly every time. Music for a While is a rather mature ensemble – it exists for eight years. Still, despite the fact that harmony among the ensemble members could be noticed, each of them appeared too much of an introvert and locked in oneself. Meanwhile, the vocalist did not always succeed to control her voice assuredly.

It should be admitted that the idea to perform opuses of Kurt Weill in an original manner is interesting. Cabaret performed in avant-garde style is not also very traditional. It is a plausible idea of the collective Music for a While which helps them to stay original and not to drown in the sea of numerous jazz ensembles. It is also rejoicing that visitors of Pažaislis Music Festival could hear the collective. Still, the concert “Variations on Cabaret Theme” was a very typical phenomenon in this festival: an intriguing title, non-academic and non-popular music, which balanced between classical and jazz music. However, the concert was slightly boring and did not leave a very big impression.

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