Antipodal Suites

by Agustí Fernández & Sarah Claman

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As a kid, New Zealander Sarah Claman was entranced by the unison movement of orchestral violin bows. It's a fascinating sensation. I can vouch for that. From my trumpeter's watchtower in the orchestra I was constantly hypnotized by the synchronicity of that sea of strings whose surf furiously came and went or calmed down according to the score and the demands of the conductor. The power and magnificence of the symphonic orchestra in full swing is hard to beat. The orchestra is a whole, diluting its participants, it is an instrument in itself. 100 musicians become one under the conductor's baton.

From early on, Sarah was lucky to sync up her own bow with others'. She knew firsthand how it felt to form part of the tide. Fortunately, her fascination for uniform gesture didn't culminate in a routine of reproduction. Claman wanted more, she wanted to speak for herself, express herself, improvise. She also wanted to give a voice to the composers of her time. Bach and Mozart are alright, but they don't pick up the phone when you have a doubt.

Sarah Claman belongs to a brave young generation of musicians who understand music as an open field, not as a closed, compartimentalized store-room. There's no concrete wall that can resist the sound barrage that their infinite technical resources fire off.

The uniform synchronicity of the collective speaks to the human possibility of rowing in the same direction. Without discrepancies. But liberty of movement is also a form of synchronisation. A zebra crossing is the meeting of bodies in opposed directions. It's beautiful. Some come, some go, they all cross. Sometimes they clash, as it can also be said of harmony. But a clash can give rise to a discovery. "Huh, I hadn't seen you there". With luck, they'll take the time to see where it goes. Sarah and Agustí have done just that.

The piano of the Majorcan is an orchestra. It has its string and percussion sections as well as, dare I say it, a wind section. There's a universe full of worlds in his instrument. And in his head, a symphony of resources. He's from another generation, but he has fun like a child and thus infects his maturity.

Sarah's violin is a music box with voice-like resonances. Its strings activate and crunch with the same concentrated intensity with which they mutter. In her hands, the instrument appears to crumple like a piece of paper that, soon enough, folds out and takes back its form. It's an acoustic miracle, as the origin of each sound can be put into doubt in many moments of the recording.

The uniformity of bodies in movement, the symmetrical reproduction of a choreography, tends to fascinate. Dictators love it. The individual fades into the mass, becoming indistinguishable. They don't think, they just act.

In freedom, in improvisation, Agustí Fernández and Sarah Claman help each other to get away from learnt choreographies. One expounds an idea, the other gathers it up (and viceversa). The ideas embrace each other, paths diverge and come together again under the baton of a destiny that they choose (or that chooses them). Their instruments exchange skins. They are one like the orchestral musicians, but they have a name and an identity, not second or third desk. Nothing would be the same if it wasn't them and their tireless bow of creative possibilities. Masters in the navigation of unknown seas.

Carlos Pérez Cruz


released October 1, 2018

Agustí Fernández, piano
Sarah Claman, violin

All music by Agustí Fernández (SGAE) and Sarah Claman

Recorded at L’Obrador, Sant Pere de Vilamajor, Barcelona, Spain
Southern Suite recorded on January 26th 2018
Northern Suite recorded on April 13th 2018
Mixed and mastered by Ferran Conangla at FCM Studio

Cover Art: Motoko Kikkawa
Photos: Joan Cortès Benages
Graphic design: Oliver Wilkinson

Produced by Sirulita Records


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Sirulita Records Barcelona, Spain

Independent label of free improvised music promoted by Agustí Fernández

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