On this set, she continues to explore the ways in which a trio enhances or constrains the piano.

Losen: LOS 291-2

Olga Konkove: piano, Fender Rhodes; Mark Heinecke: woodwinds, piano; Frederik Villmow: drums, percussion

Recorded November and December 2023 by Vidar Lunden at Musikkloftet, Asker, Norway

As a long-time admirer of Konkova’s style of piano playing, it is always a joy to hear a near recording. On this set, she continues to explore the ways in which a trio enhances or constrains the piano.

What is new here is the exploration of a broad range of woodwind sounds and how these can be responded to by piano and drums. In a trio, duties of time-keeping can be handed to the drums and the piano could provide chords and accompaniment to a lead instrument. But for this trio, that is never a possibility.

Each player instinctively marks the shifting time signatures of each piece, so there is less need for metronomic time-keeping which frees Villmow to play expressionistic patterns on his kit. Nor is there a need for the piano to play behind Heinecke’s various woodwind instruments.

Rather all three instruments have the opportunity to take the lead or provide the platform for the others. Throughout the recording, the woodwinds create a wide repertoire of noises to which Konkova’s piano responds or which she seeks to coax into discovering new sounds. On the opening piece, ‘The pianist’s garden’, Heinecke’s ocarina plays the role of birds hiding in trees but also the wind as it rolls through the grass and plants.

On the next track, ‘Contented today’, he plays a wooden flute. On other tracks he plays piccolo, alto flute, bass clarinet, C flute, ceramic flute. Each piece features a specific instrument, and piano and drums adjust their approach to music accordingly. On a couple of the pieces, Konkova leads the exploration of a familiar tune (‘Herlizh tut mich’, track 4, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’, track 10, or ‘The moon is a harsh mistress’, track 8) in her familiar style of taking something well known and remaking it into something delicate and new.

On these tunes, Heinecke’s flute (C or alto) begins with the familiar tune but the tune is encouraged into quite different places as the piano introduces its own vision of the music’s direction. Track 8 is played on a ceramic flute (created by Birte Kittelsen) which, together with the twinkling Fender Rhodes, creates a sound that one might expect to hear in outer space.

The trio improvised track 12 around the sound of the ceramic flute, tentatively pushing their way through patterns of sounds as Konkova switches between Fender Rhodes and piano and Villmov’s toms create a distant thunder.