"Guy is, of course, nothing short of a phenomenon, what with his, in the best sense of the word, sagacious blend of passion, all manner of technique, lightning fast response time and multitude of stylistic inferences."
“.....Das experimentellste Werk das er an diesem Abend spielte, waren seine “Five Fizzles” für Kontrabass solo. In Anlehnung an eine sogenannte Reihe kurzer Prosastücke Samuel Becketts besteht die Komposition aus fünf musikalischen Miniaturen ganz unterschiedlichen Charakters. Guy strich, zupfte, schlug und streichelte seinen Kontrabas auf alle erdenklichen Weisen und entlockte ihm Klänge und Geräusche, die man nicht für möglich gehalten hätte. Und doch hat diese Musik nichts Konstruiert-Avantgardistisches an sich, sondern wirkte sehr urtümlich, erdverbunden, vital. Ähnliches lässt sich auch von “Inachis” sagen, einer Kompsition für Solovioline, zu der Guy auf dem Kontrabass spontane Reaktionen anbrachte. Zum Schluss spielte Maya Homburger nochmals eine Sonate von Biber. Sie gestaltete sie derart frei und emotional, dass man plötzlich unsicher wurde, ob es sich da wirklich um ein barockes Werk handelte.
(Thomas Schacher, NZZ, 7. April 2006)
Review for TIME PASSING... by Ben Dwyer
for soprano, improvising voice, bass baritone and string orchestra by Barry Guy.
Please use the following link to read the excellently written review by the Irish composer and guitarist Ben Dwyer:
This CD is available for mailorder and also on our band camp site
Reviews for Folio (ECM 1931) with Barry Guy, Maya Homburger, Muriel Cantoreggi, Münchener Kammerorchester, Christoph Poppen
Jazzman - Choc du mois
Not since Penderecki’s heyday have I been so bowled over by music which so compellingly fuses startlingly inventive and ear-tingling string textures and timbres with the emotional passion and drive of a “Verklärte Nacht” or “Metamorphosen”. … The starting point for Folio was provided by Nicolai Evreinov’s play The Theatre of the Soul, which, to quote Guy, ‘demarcates characters into the rational, emotional and subconscious aspects of the soul’. This helps structure the music’s textural multi-layering and architectural shape, which is experienced as though part of a dream-like trance. Maya Homburger’s Baroque violin plays the role of the ‘emotional’, while Barry Guy’s double bass improvisations symbolise ‘rationality’ and Muriel Cantoreggi’s modern violin and the Munich strings represent the ‘subconscious’. … So charismatically involving is this truly virtuoso performance that at times … it feels as though the entire ensemble might literally explode with excitement. With only twelve players in the orchestra, everyone becomes a soloist, and the result is a stunningly engineered rollercoaster ride of unremitting emotional intensity.
Julian Haylock, The Strad
The hour-long Folio was Barry Guy’s response to a very specific commission from the BT Scottish Ensemble… It was, though, a prescription tailor-made for Guy: as well as a composer he is also a double-bass virtuoso who makes regular forays into the jazz world, and his wife Maya Homburger is a distinguished baroque violinist. The result of all these happy connections is an intriguing, multi-faceted work: a sequence of self-contained pieces linked by a series of improvised commentaries for the double bass and baroque violin, which carries its considerable weight of extra-musical associations lightly. … However, the textures and the command of musical layering and string techniques are impressive on their own terms.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
Folio is a hugely ambitious piece. It consists of a series of improvisations for Barry Guy’s own double bass, sometimes with Maya Homburger’s baroque violin, interspersed with five movements for Muriel Cantoreggi’s modern violin and string orchestra. Additionally, there are two sequences, based on Diego Ortiz’s Recercada Primera of 1553, serving as a bridge between baroque violin and modern instruments. … He proves himself a composer of sure instincts with this absorbing work, which combines spontaneity and shapeliness, stasis and excitement.
Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times
L’œuvre … tresse et alterne partitions orchestrales et improvisations de l’un ou de deux des solistes. Pas plus que le langage instrumental du contrebassiste, les improvisations des deux violons n’étonneront les habitués des musique improvisées européennes, mais on reste confondu par le naturel qui les portent cette écriture libre de tout dogmatisme et qui nouent ensemble les deux discours en un matériau d’une aussi peu discutable cohérence.
Franck Bergerot, Jazzman
other reviews :
"When certain musicians have been central to your musical landscape for two thirds of your life, when innumerable words have been written about them by some of the most distinguished commentators, when their command of instrumental technique and improvisational inventiveness is beyond all reasonable question, and when you have enthused about them on numerous occasions, what is there left to say? What you said in the first place: listen."
Wire, Oct. 98, Barry Witherden
"Barry Guy proved in his solo that he is the most awesome bassist in improvised music."
Downbeat, October 1993
"... Guy is master of his instrument and servant of a questing imagination that constantly transforms daunting abstraction into the strangely beautiful ..."
"... While the greatest entertainment was provided by the closing Stuppner, the strongest musical impression was made by the rapidly slithering runs and two-part harmonics of Xenakis' Theraps, a piece which Guy himself described as taking the player 'to the edge ... and beyond'. An area on the double bass where there's hardly a better guide than Barry Guy."
"For a complete contrast, Guy played five short improvisations he called Fizzles. Adding to his impressively varied repertoire of plucked and bowed sounds, he used a whole table full of paintbrushes and drumsticks, even the kind of wire brush that swing drummers use to create a soft wash for a romantic ballad. He performed the piece at breakneck pace, his hands moving over the entire course of the five-string bass from scroll to tailpiece in a blur, hands and fingers flashing like stroboscopic lightning bolts. Even more incredible than this display of superb athleticism, the music that came out was intelligible, intricate and altogether fascinating."
Stephen Pederson, Halifax, Nov. 1999
"... The visual or theatrical element is always present, especially in the bewildering complexity of his hand movements ... Barry Guy strays right to the edge of music and beyond, where only the bravest will follow."
Douglas Sealy (Irish Times, April 1999)
"Memo I, written by Bernard Rands and performed by Barry Guy, the bass player with foot on the amplifier control, in an extraordinary display of creative virtuosity."
"All his music, like his double bass playing, has a certain style and exuberance: of virtuosity taken to its limits, of sheer guts and fun."
Financial Times, London
IRCAM "British take the honours": Barry Guy practically stole the whole week single-handed with the brilliant entertainment of his solo double-bass recital, a superbly packaged selection of virtuoso (including a gritty version of Xenakis's Theraps) and theatrical pieces (bringing the house down with his famous clown piece, Hubert Stuppner's Ausdrucke)"
"Bassist and composer Barry Guy is a force of nature. Always on the edge of anarchy, at his best he can pack chaos into concrete structures to make exquisite music. His hugely demanding Concerto for Orchestra Fallingwater reveals both his wildness and his ability to master it."
The Times, London October 96
"Barry Guy’s Fallingwater was a glittering orchestral kaleidoscope, according the players a measure of freedom within a rigorously controlled structure."
The Independent, London October 96
"Bitz!, as it is called, consists of ten short movements whose proportions are derived from Le Corbusier's Modular: and a definite sense of balance comes across ... the music acquired the intensity of a collection of expressionist woodcuts."
"... For those who may harbor the misconception that solo bass recordings are somehow monochromatically monotonous or limited in scope, Fizzles offers compelling evidence to the contrary. Barry Guy has given us one of the most fascinating improvised bass recordings in recent memory. Not for the timid, but it pays huge dividends for the adventurous listener whose ears are open."
Carl Baugher, Cadence
"... Barry Guy’s desire to break down the barrier between instrument and musician is best experienced by hearing Fizzles on headphones, which will bring you closer to/inside the instrument's gigantic vibrating body. This is virtuosic technique at one with a highly expressive imagination."
"Anyone who has seen Guy performing live will know that the double bass bequeathed to us by centuries of musical history is only the foundation of his instrument. He expands its forms, and his playing methods, by any means necessary: specially carved false bridges, brushes, mallets and amplification all come into play as Guy wrestles with his bass, and his body. It makes an immensely exciting visual display. While that aspect of a Guy performance is missing from Fizzles, his immense musicality is not. Nor is his slyly playful humour. The range of sound Guy gets from his instruments would make Mingus mutter, but the sound is always subject to the immediate logic of the moment. Fizzles is an exhilarating display of one musician's pursuit of that logic, wherever it leads him.
"Barry Guy, who is devoted to old music as to jazz and avant-garde, masters his instrument with incredible bravura."
Neue Zeit, Graz
"Guy impresses yet again as one of the best bassists of his generation."
"And in addition, Barry Guy happens to be a genuine virtuoso, one of the best soloists in jazz."
Es ist einerseits die souveräne, nie in Effekthascherei abdriftende Instrumentalistik, andererseits die zwingende Ereignishaftigkeit seiner musikalischen Fantasie, die diesen bestechenden Bassisten, Improvisator & Komponisten auszeichnet. Außergewöhnlich ist zu dem, mit welchem Gespür für Spannungsinhalte Guy organisch Erfahrungen mit klassischer Musik (Alte wie Neue) und Erforschungen im Bereich der freien Improvisation zu einem Individualstil zusammenführen kann. Guy ist zweifellos ein vor keinem Risiko zurückscheuender Spontanerfinder, der die Aggregatzustände seiner Musik bestechend zu variieren weiß. Von aufbrausender Vitalität fast bis zum Stillstand. Hierfür streicht und zupft Guy, jeden Quadratzentimeter seines Instrumentes nützend, flächige Entwicklungen,bei denen sich die Klangmassen in unterschiedlichen Tempi und unterschiedlicher Dichte ineinander wälzen, heraus, und im Gegensatz scharfkantige Mosaike, in denen die Symmetrie der Spannung der Außermittigkeit frönt. An extraordinary guy.