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col legno | Portrait #2018

The Vienna-based label col legno is one of the last bastions of contemporary music, and can by now look back on more than 30 years of music history and more than 300 releases, including many benchmark recordings of the great composers of the twentieth century, such as Berio, Cage, Cerha, Crumb, Feldman, Hosokawa, Kurtág, Lachenmann, Ligeti, Maderna, Nono, Pärt, Rihm, Scelsi, Sciarrino, Ustvolskaya, Varèse, Xenakis and B.A. Zimmermann.

Its exclusive focus on serious contemporary music of the twentieth century - coupled with the CD as a recording medium - led to economic difficulties at the start of the first decade of the 21st century, as a result of which well-funded music lovers took on the label, eventually bringing on board composer and musician Andreas Schett as artistic director in 2006. He has stayed with col legno since then and is responsible for both the creative and programmatic reorientation of the label.

With this newly-won artistic freedom, and the associated, ongoing widening of its range of content, col legno has enjoyed a successful new start. Today col legno is interested in particular in any music which cannot be immediately placed and meanders playfully between genres – without losing sight of the contemporary in the widest sense. After all, col legno means “with the wood.”     

Every string player knows what they have to do when they see this playing instruction in their notes. Take the bow, turn it over and strike the wood on the strings. Once unheard of and still surprising today, it expanded, and expands, sound diversity with a playful openness. col legno is dedicated to this openness with all its energy and passion. Initial highlights of the label’s work are Wolfgang Mitterer’s Beethoven tour de force “Nine in One”; Kethan Batthi’s collaboration, located between techno and avant garde, with the ensemble Adapter; Marino Formenti’s pianistic exploration of the night; the contemporary settings of Alpine folk music created by the ensembles Federspiel and Alma; and finally, new interpretations of romantic songs from Schubert to Mahler by the musical group Franui, whose trumpet player and mastermind is Schett himself.  

Andreas Schett has now been the sole owner and chief executive of col legno since 2015, and directs the music company’s business together with cultural and musical manager Robert Chr. Schulz.
Recommendation
Almost in G: an album composed by Christian Winther Christensen, performed by Scenatet and sincerely recommended by col legno
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