April 14, 2017
Cellist Matt Haimovitz and clarinettist David Krakauer met at a klezmer gathering in Canada and discovered a shared interest in Henri Akoka, the Algerian-born Sephardic Jewish clarinettist who premiered Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time in a prison camp during the second world war. In a tribute project called Akoka, they frame Messiaen’s masterpiece with improvisations and a woeful electronic remix (bits of the quartet chopped up with archive radio broadcasts, hip-hop rhythms and Sephardic cantorial singing) by Montreal “beat architect” Socalled.
The multi-faith angle could be interesting – Messiaen’s Technicolor Catholicism dominates most readings of the quartet, so a klezmer-style vibrato in the solo clarinet movement, for example, is a valid perspective. And the performance is generally classy, especially the immensely expressive and gentle playing of violinist Jonathan Crow. But the add-ons are dire, and doubly so given that they segue straight in and out of the Messiaen, leaving no room for escape.
By: Kate Molleson
Read at: The Guardian