Over het album
“Traditional” is what Peter Schärli calls the music on this CD. But what does “traditional” mean?
It’s about keeping something going that’s in danger of fading into oblivion and disappearing. Something that we lose track of because our horizons narrow, because, in our insensate rush forward, we look or listen in only one direction, losing the vast expanse of possibilities from our view and hearing. A little distance makes it easier to see how ridiculous our non-stop focus on optimization – which also means non-stop neglect – really is.
We have realized by now that the ceaseless claim of unconditioned, absolute novelty in the arts has proven to be rather inflated and hubristic. Even literature knows only few topics, and that’s why art is less about inventing and much more about translating, interpreting, and varying over and over again. (Even the destruction of something pre-existing is bound to this pre-existing something.) “Nothing of what is said is new, nothing of what is meant comes from nowhere,” observed literary scholar George Steiner. And historian of art Ernst Gombrich stated: “Even the greatest artist needs an idiom for his work. Only the tradition he finds can provide him with the raw material of images he needs.” Philosopher Odo Marquard put it in a nutshell: “Any future needs a past.”
So, the crucial thing is how we deal with what we encounter. Anyone who thinks that Peter Schärli and his group – in this case – are attempting to turn back the clock and escape from the present, is mistaken. The music on this CD is not about turning away from the here and now, but about connecting the here and now to a timeless flow. It’s called culture.
And that’s why there’s another, less abstract reason for listening to this music.
The musicians playing here have built a relationship and mutual trust over many years of working together, of searching for their own “sound”, their own “language” – far from any affectation or artificial posing. They take all the time they need to develop their songs with calm and serenity. They breathe freely – in a breathless, hectic time. They are looking for moderation in our immoderateness. And in doing so, they oppose the categorical imperative of our achievement-oriented society not to “waste” time.
Just listen to Nina Simone’s song “Four Women”. Is it outdated? Obsolete? – Certainly not! The present interpretation creates a mood that enables us to pause, to engage in encounters. This is skilful interaction taken from another time. Music that can, rather than must (because “must” would be a totalitarian approach).
Nothing more needs to be said. This music speaks for itself…