Colin Stetson released a marvellous collaborative album with Sarah Neufeld last year, but his last solo album came out three years ago. The 2013’s outstanding New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, which was one of our Album Picks of the Year, is being followed up this Spring and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
The Montreal-based sax super-hero has announced the release of SORROW: A reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, based on the Polish composer’s 1997 famous classic piece. Due out on April 8th via his own 52Hz label, SORROW is a dream come true for Stetson, who envisioned the project for two decades. Stetson assembled an incredible cast of musicians to bring this project to life, including Sarah Neufeld (violins), Rebecca Foon (cello), Greg Fox (drums), Gyda Valtisdottir (cello), Ryan Ferreira (guitar), Grey Mcmurray (guitar), Matt Bauder (saxes/clarinets), Dan Bennett (saxes/clarinets), Shahzad Ismaily (synths), Justin Walter (keyboards/EV) and his sister Megan Stetson (voice).
Here’s how he described the album:
“We all have those moments when we experience a piece of music that transforms us, and this was one of those moments for me. Over the years, I went on to listen to this record countless times, always determined to absorb every instance of it, to know it throughout and fully. And this dedication to a thorough knowledge of the piece eventually gave way to a need to perform it.
The concept was simple, and true to the original score. I haven’t changed existing notation, but rather have worked with altering instrumentation, utilizing a group consisting heavily of woodwinds, synthesizers, and electric guitars, as well as retaining an element of the orchestral in a string section of violins and cellos, which features prominent and decorated Canadian musicians Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre) and Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Esmerine).
My approach was “additive”, in that I imagined certain sounds or parts, though not present in the original, were (to me) extensions of the emotional core of the piece. For example, the instrumentation is rounded out by the most extreme of those sonic/timbral/musical additions, the drum set. Performed inimitably here by NYC drummer/percussionist, Greg Fox (Liturgy, Guardian Alien, Z’s). My background and education in classical concert music is here, as well as a focus on group improvisation. The arrangement draws heavily from the world of black metal, early electronic music, and from my own body of solo saxophone music.
The result is an intact rendition of Henryk Górecki’s 3rd Symphony, though one which has been filtered through the lens of my particular musical aesthetic and experience.”
As a first staggering taste, Stetson is offering an excerpt of movement ‘I’ of SORROW, featuring Megan Stetson. Listen to it below and watch the album trailer straight after.