Joachim Carr, Numinosum Review
Joachim Carr’s Numinosum: Harmonizing Serenity and Intensity
Music and divine inspiration have been intertwined for centuries, serving as an inexhaustible source of contemplation for philosophers, artists, and laymen alike. Talented musicians and composers have long explored this sacred union, channeling the ethereal to speak in a language beyond words. In this grand tradition stands the Scandinavian pianist Joachim Carr, whose new album Numinosum is a transcendent testament to this celestial marriage. A sonority of humility and audacity, Carr’s tour de force is a deep spiritual dive into the numinous realms of Bach-Busoni, Liszt, Franck, and Messiaen.
With a program woven by invisible threads of spirituality, Carr adroitly navigates these distinct musical landscapes, each piece steeped in a religious attitude towards the world. He transfigures these intricate compositions from mere notes on a page into a profound spiritual experience. From Bach’s chorale preludes transformed through Busoni’s pen to Liszt’s evocative musical portraits of saintly miracles, the listener is invited on a pilgrimage of sonic sanctity.
Carr’s handling of Bach-Busoni is executed with a subtle refinement that reveals an intimate understanding of Bach’s baroque textures and Busoni’s romantic indulgences. The opening, “Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” is delivered with a hushed reverence, its meditative pace inviting the listener into this consecrated musical space. In “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” and “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme,” Carr captures the spirit of the original chorales while allowing Busoni’s grandiose visions to come alive, delicately threading the needle between solemnity and exuberance.
In his exploration of Liszt’s “Legends,” Carr expertly mirrors these works’ flamboyant eloquence and quiet introspection. He conveys the fluttering birdsong and cascading runs of ‘St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds with a lucid vivacity, while the dramatic narrative of ‘St. Francis of Paola’s Walking on the Waves’ is brilliantly articulated, with waves of fortissimo crashing against the rocks of stark pianissimo.
Messiaen’s contributions, culled from “Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus,” serve as a canvas where Carr vividly exhibits the breadth of his skillset. His orchestration of discordant harmonies and tonal hues, under his touch, engenders a sense of quest — a quest that becomes our own as the elusive tonal centers guide us into realms of fervent exploration. “Regard du Fils sur le Fils” and “Regard des anges” are crafted with a hypnotic equipoise of action and celestial quietude, punctuated by Messiaen’s signature color clusters. Carr unravels these intricate abstract tapestries of rhythm and harmony with expert hands, culminating in performances that are a forward stirring of emotion.
Franck’s “Prélude, Choral et Fugue, M21” is characterized by Carr’s execution of a potent combination of power and sensitivity; his virtuosic skills transcend the black and white of the written notes, allowing him to unearth the spiritual essence imbued within the composition. The Prelude is spun with a tender touch, akin to a spider’s web glimmering in the first light of dawn. The Choral’s stately melody weaves through a luxuriant harmonic fabric, culminating in a Fugue that springs forth, teeming with raw kinetic force. This effectively grounds the celestial odyssey, serving up a conclusion that is profoundly earthly.
Recorded in a church in the remote Lofoten Islands during the mystical ‘dark-time’, the raw ambiance permeates the entire album. Carr’s interpretation is as evocative as the ethereal light that dominates this part of the world, each piece a beacon glowing in the inky blackness.
The Norwegian pianist delivers a transcendent performance, solidifying his reputation as one of the most spiritually resonant musicians to emerge from Scandinavia. A robust and revelatory experience, Numinosum speaks of an artist firmly anchored in a world where light dances with shadow, where the spiritual realm blends with the human. Dive in, dear listener, and lose yourself in the divine. That’s the short of it!
Connect with Joachim Carr: Website |
Numinosum: Works by Bach-Busoni, Liszt, Franck & Messiaen
July 7, 2023