Clementine Gasser


Wild Chamber Trio – CD-Review 10.000 Leaves
Gianni Mimmo, Elisabeth Harnik and Clementine Gasser
ORF/Ö1 culture editor Irene Suchy february 2012

german version

Ein Saxophon beginnt, sich als Flöte tarnend, das Klavier verbirgt sich hinter einem körperlichen Wolken-Sound, das Cello unterstützt den Klang, ein energetischer Tumult, aus dem sich die einzelnen Stimmen lösen, zu voller Höhe und Tiefe aufschwingen, ihre Virtuosität erkennen lassen, wieder zu einmütiger Einheit kommen: Klangspielereien, Klangzaubereien. Das war erst  Atomic Heart. […]

In den 10.000  Blättern finden sich Ideen des Auseinandergehens und des Zusammen-findens aus der gemeinsamen Erfahrung großer musikalisch-kompositorischer Kraft der Einzelnen. Hier verliert sich nichts, auch nicht wir Zuhörenden – dem Hörpublikum wird Bewunderung in Distanz geboten. Hier gewinnt keiner, hier führt keiner, hier herrscht höchste Ausgewogenheit in höchster Komplexität. […]




Clementine Gasser – CD-Review PIONEER 23
ORF/Ö1 culture editor Helmut Blechner december 2003

"Subversive classical avant-garde” is how Clementine Gasser describes her music. If we take the dialectical term ‘classical avant-garde’ literally, it refers to an artistic process which combines within itself the past and the future, the old and the new, the familiar and the unknown, adaptation and resistance. No, not combines but layers, juxtaposes, pits against each other. So that out of the chaos may emerge a new order. But Gasser’s aim is not order as such. She creates a new order through a process of seeking and finding. What was valid a moment ago is valid no longer.

The listener realises that order is not a state, but a process. “This order is not as rigid as it pretends”, mused Robert Musil’s Man Without Qualities, “no thing, no self, no form, no principle is safe, everything is undergoing invisible yet incessant change; there is more of the future in the unsolid than in the solid and the present is nothing but a hypothesis which we have not yet outlived.”

I am listening to Thelonious Monk dissect Smoke gets in your eyes. This pause is too long, I think to myself. Is he ever going to start up again? He’s too late!? – No, there it is, the eagerly awaited keystroke. And in retrospect, I realise that the timing was right, of course. Monk was spot on. This moment, and only this very moment, was valid.

A similar principle applies to the music of Clementine Gasser. The unexpected, or, rather, the unknown, reveals itself – and the surprise is in the occurrence of the expected. It’s like a (bad) dream: we tear the mask off the face of the monster that frightens us and realise with horror that we’ve always suspected, nay, known, who or what was behind it.

Her music is “subversive” says Gasser and refers to her cello techniques. But her subversion extends beyond the formal context. She crosses boundaries by simply denying their existence. She abandons the world of “either/or” for the realm of “both/and”, she reveals the commonalities in what seem to be contradictions.

I am talking of that antithetic pair: “thinking and feeling”. “There is nothing sillier”, writes Günther Anders in Ketzereien, “than believing that whoever can think with precision cannot feel, and that thinking is not passionate. Conversely, our feeling must be as precise as our thinking. And our thinking must be as passionate as our feeling.” That is precisely what the cello on PIONEER 23 conveys with its quiet screaming, alluring rasping, and menacing stomping: this is passionate thinking and precise feeling. Disciplined ecstasy. Sensuality meeting us at the intellectual level. Is there not hidden, in the siren song, the voice of Cassandra? The message of the voice(s) contains promise and warning at once. Horror smiling. “How strenuous it is to be evil”, noted Bert Brecht when contemplating a Japanese wooden mask. Sadness and melancholy oppress us, but from somewhere (from the future?), we do know quite know how, the sound of merry voices reaches us. “Is this an illusion?”, we ask sceptically, unaware that we are already in the process of being uplifted.

The word ‘sense’ has many meanings, ‘feeling’ and ‘meaning’ being among them. What Clementine Gasser explores with sensitivity and power is “sense fiction” in every sense of the word. The siren song of her cello does not have to be sweet to enthral. It is alluring and evocative nonetheless.