interpretating music by igor stravinsky and other iconic composers
One of Denmarks most renowned drummers, Stefan Pasborg, has created a trio interpreting some of the most iconic composers like Igor Stravinsky.
Pasborg had an early encounter with classical music. His mother and stepdad were both ballet dancers at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, and his Godfather was the renowned "Danseur Noble" Erik Bruhn. So his early meetings with balletmusic - especially the works by Igor Stravinsky - made a deep impact on him The debut album from The Firebirds will be released on February 16th 2015 named after the epic orchestral piece, Stravinskys, The Firebird.
Stefan Pasborg says:
“In this trio I get to fulfill a dream about playing some of the classical music that I remember from my childhood - but in my own way. It’s incredibly fascinating to capture a large and complex universe like Stravinsky’s, and study what happens when you make use of his compositions as a starting point for improvisation, and at the same time gives it a new scaffolding and frame.“
With artists as versatile as Tomasz Stanko, Ray Anderson, Enrico Pierranunzi, Marc Ducret, Carsten Dahl and Alex Riel as well as Pasborgs own orchestras Ibrahim Electric, Odessa 5 and others, his drumming has taken him from Shanghai to Vancouver, from Monte-Carlo to Moscau, from Varanger to Casablanca, and from New York to São Paulo in the course of the last decade.
The forthcoming album is a search back towards the beginning, the roots of his musical itinerary. The final constitution of the band was found in 2011 with the two acknowledged musicians, pianist Anders Filipsen and saxophonist Anders Banke. Together the three of them create a perfect combination to capture the complexity of the music. Simultaneously the three members has a well established determination towards galvanizing peoples contemplation of genres:
”In Firebirds we can experiment by mixing pieces which the audience only knows as symphonies for large orchestras, ’zoom in’ and play parts of it for just three musicians. We are using references from divergent musical styles such as jazz, surf, improvisation, blues a.o. It’s our agenda to discover what music can and cannot do: Can you play ’Sabre Dance’ as a medium-blues-shuffle. Yes, actually you can! The music is delivered with a deep respect for the originals and a serious take on the interpretations – but, also with a great deal of humor.”
Album liner notes For debutalbum
Sundays in my childhood home were filled with classical music. Both my mother and stepfather were dancers at The Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen. Together, they enjoyed listening to classical music every Sunday - especially the ballets of Igor Stravinsky.
I recall having a serious challenge enjoying the music with them... I wasn't AT ALL ready to get a kick out of "The Rite of Spring"... Being a huge fan of Elvis Presley, The Police, and heavy metal music at the time, my musical preferences were completely elsewhere.
But at 9 years of age, something happened to me while seeing "The Rite of Spring": I remember getting intense goose bumps when the first rhythms of the so-called "Dances of the Young Girls" began.
That particular feeling has stayed with me ever since and, reflecting on it now, must have been the starting point of this album.
Since then, I had dreamt of combining those early impressions with my own sounds as a professional musician.
In 2008, I decided to create a small suite with interpretations of 5 parts from Stravinsky’s "The Firebird" for my group Pasborg’s Odessa 5. It debuted at the NattJazz Festival in Bergen, Norway in May of 2009.
I never released any recordings of my interpretations with that band, except for a version of "Infernal Dance of all Kashchei's Subjects", which can be found on Pasborg’s Odessa "X-tra Large" (Stunt Records, 2010).
In 2011, I was invited to be an Artist-in-Residence at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse. One of those concerts was dedicated exclusively to interpretations of selected pieces of classical music from my childhood: "The Rite of Spring" (Stravinsky), "The Nutcracker" (Tchaikovsky), "Scheherazade" (Rimsky-Korsakov), and "Sabre Dance" (Aram Khachaturian). I named the band after "The Firebird", since that particular piece was the starting point of this project.
After experimenting with different band constellations, I eventually ended up in the trio format. I love the special sound with my two great colleagues: Anders Filipsen on keyboards, and Anders Banke on saxophone and clarinet. I also really enjoy the fact that only 3 musicians are performing the music that was originally written for symphony orchestras.
All the interpretations are done with a seriousness and the deepest respect for the original material - but also with a certain amount of humor.
It has been a wonderful journey realizing this project. I sincerely hope you enjoy the music as much as I have enjoyed creating the condensed interpretations, and as much as we enjoyed performing them! - Stefan Pasborg, Copenhagen 2014.
''Folk Music: melodies and rhythms belonging to the people, sung and danced by the people, and passed from one generation to the next.
Great composers have always borrowed from the musical treasures around us: they have taken folk tunes and made them into their own. One of the greatest composers ever - Igor Stravinsky - used lots of inspiration from songs he had heard and used them in his compositions, and in my many performances of pieces like ''The Firebird'' and ''The Rite of Spring'', I have always been mesmerized by the way he managed to combine folk music and extreme complexity into a very personal language.
I hear the same approach in the Pasborg version of Stravinsky’s works. Taking the music into a new kaleidoscopic view and thereby adding a new dimension to music I know so well. I have enjoyed listening to the recordings of well known themes - giving me new ways of listening to music so familiar to me - it’s like the music is going home to the roots of folk music - done in a very personal and twisted way'' - Gert Sørensen, Principal Percussionist in ''The Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra'', Copenhagen 2014.