Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ensemble Ambrosius “The Zappa Album”


01 Night School
02 Sofa
03 Black Page #2
04 Uncle Meat
05 Igor´s Boogie
06 Zoot Allures
07 Big Swifty
08 T´Mershi Duween
09 Alien Orifice
10 The Idiot Bastard Son
12 The Orange County Lumber Truck
13 Echidna´s Arf (of You)
14 Inca Roads
15 G-Spot Tornado


Josu Moisio - baroque oboe, baroque d' amore, glockenspiel.
Matti Vanhamäki - baroque violin.
Jonte Knif - chamber organ, melodica, harpsichord, dulcimer.
Ere Lievonen - harpsichord, chamber organ.
Tuukka Terho - archlute, baroque mandoline.
Jani Sunnarborg - baroque bassoon, oboe da caccia.
Olli Virtaperko - baroque cello ,violoncello piccolo.

Recorded in Helsinki, Finland on August 9-13, 1999.


Ensemble Ambrosius is a group that concentrates in contemporary music, using mostly Baroque instruments. Ambrosius was formed in 1995 and from the very beginning the music of American composer Frank Zappa (1940-1993) has been one of our main focuses.

The members of Ensemble flmbrosius have all gone through extensive studies of the performance practice of early music and have at some point studied in the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki. I myself became interested in contemporary music and Zappa in high school - up until then I had only been involved with classical music. However, as I continued my classical studies, I met the multi-instrumentalist Jonte Knif, who shared my Zappa-enthusiasm. With harpsichordist Ere Lievonen we eventually performed Uncle Meat with 2 harpsichords and a Baroque cello in 1995. This occured

at the final concert of an early music summer course where the oboist, Jasu Moisio, was present in the audience. Soon after that Jasu joined us, and what was originally in tended as a one-time musical joke led to the forming of Ensemble Ambrosius.

As we started to play Zappa's music, it became evident to us that the most demanding thing was to be able to retain the rhythmicality and metric pulse of the music. How to simulate the smooth co-operation of the rhythm section of the rock group -particularly the drums and the bass -was the crucial question.

However, before being able to play a single note, we needed to notate the music somehow. The arranging of "The Zappa Album" followed the good old Steve Vai - method: every note of the album was first transcribed from the tape and then arranged to the ensemble. Of the 15 pieces selected for this disc, Ere Lievonen arranged 5 pieces, the remainder having been completed by myself. Ere prefers to be extremely detailed in his arrangements, whereas I try to write down as few notes as possible, leaving the keyboard instruments, lute and cello a plentiful of liberties. In preparing my own arrangements I found it extremely useful having also toured with a big-band-sized Finnish rock group for the past five years, thus getting the vital first-hand knowledge of how the music of a large, amplified group functions. This knowledge has been very important in learning how the "styling" of FZ's music can be adopted for a classical combination.

As the musicians of Ensemble Ambrosius ore professionals in the field of Baroque music, it was natural for us to also apply the concept of the Baroque basso continue group to our interpretation of Zappa. In a basso continue group of the Baroque period, various musicians accompanied the melody with chords, improvising contrapuntal material. The desired chords were specified in scores with numbers above the bass line. As we played Zoppa, we soon learned that in a large Baroque basso continue group the liberties and rules of accompanying the melody rhythmically and harmonically are pretty much the same as with the rhythm section of a rock group. That made it possible for us to arrange Zappa's music for a non-amplified ensemble, and still retain the rhythmicality and metric pulse.

Olli Virtaperko, Ensemble Ambrosius


Sardo said...

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