The new album from violinist Angharad Davies and pianist Tisha Mukarji is part of Another Timbre’s ‘Violin +1’ series, but unlike the two instalments we’ve previously covered, the music here is improvised rather than composed. The five fancies, or ffansïon in Davies’ native Welsh, cover a huge terrain ranging from the slow and tense to the loud and charging. They are accompanied by a short two-part piece called ‘For Lucio’, a prickly pear full of short, sharp plinks and plonks, a high-speed sort of call-and-response that at times resembles a very fast round of tennis.
But it’s the ffansïon that make up most of the album. To begin with things are quiet and tense, with low buzzing from the violin and porcelain chimes from Mukarji’s prepared piano. Later on the music turns more dramatic, with frantic bowing and clattering alternating with quieter, more restrained passages. ‘ffansi iii’ hurtles by like a high-speed train, while in ‘ffansi v’ the violin plays a number of low bowed drones as the piano alternates between a percussive rhythm and sparse chords, until everything drops away to leave an eerie faint whirring and twinkling.
Most of the music here is pretty much par for the improvisatory course, with that strong sense of the presence of individual performers that improvised music often highlights. The two women seem to share an understanding bordering on the telepathic, with much careful listening to each other, but little in the way of hesitation or uncertainty. And there are some beautiful moments here, such as the repeated held chords from the piano heard in ‘ffansi iv’, interspersed with more porcelain chimes. They make their mark, and then they’re gone, lost in the continuous flow of thoughts and shapes between the two performers.