KONTRASZTCryptic Scattered Images of Time Forgotten, the third album on the BMC label by the Trió Kontraszt, founded in 2011, is a musical memorial of pianist and band leader Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer. Like Sinbad, he roams through time, browsing through the chapters of his life with the expansive calm of bygone times, from his years in Novi Sad, through the time at the Budapest free music school, to his studies in the Netherlands, and this way free and contemporary music, dance music, and the jazz idiom all find a place next to one another. He is accompanied by credible witnesses: saxophonist István Grencsó has long been a fellow-musician, and Szilveszter Miklós, having been born in Vojvodina and embedded in the free music school, speaks the same musical language as Tickmayer: the language of musical multilingualism.
Born in Újvidék (Novi Sad), pianist-composer Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer’s position on the current CD is that of the (self-)narrator who writes of the past from a distance. One who, just when he drifts into his nostalgic reverie, deploys his humour, pinning quotation marks in front of emotive, pathétique musical sentences. Long-cherished musical ideas and compositions matured for years are put into a new light in this narrator’s bird’s-eye view: the first important concerts of Tickmayer the classical pianist, within Hungary and without, the inspiring milieu of the Budapest free music school, his work composing for theatre, his studies in composition in the Netherlands, and the impression made by the teaching of the Kurtág couple, though unusual in this juxtaposition, form a unified picture from this perspective. Yet characteristic of the album is the contrast referred to in the name of the trio. Tickmayer and co. (saxophonist István Grencsó and drummer Szilveszter Miklós) wander in the more shadowy spaces of the consciousness with a bright pocket torch: characteristic musical motifs, the typical stylistic traits of different genres flash before us with surprising clarity, only then to dissolve in the criss-crossing rays of light the improvising musicians direct at one another.
Based on the booklet text by Emese Szász
was born in Novi
Sad, in Vojvodina,
in 1963 – which
in his case is not
simply a piece of
biographical data. By
virtue of being born
an ethnic Hungarian
outside the borders
of Hungary, interculturality
him, and defines
his identity even
in musical languages, not just in spoken ones. He started as a classical musician, learning the piano
and double bass, then studied composition, first in Novi Sad, then in the Royal Conservatoire in The
Hague. In 1997 he started working in classical music with György Kurtág and Márta Kurtág. In 1986 he
was already boldly crossing genre borders, when with classical musicians, new jazz and avant-garde
rock performers he founded the Tickmayer Formatio, which operated until 2001. He gained valuable
experience in the new theatre in Orléans of the world-famous choreographer József Nagy (Joseph
Nadj) as the ensemble’s musician, composer, and sound engineer. The Trió Kontraszt (with a nod to
Bartók in its name) was created around 2011 by two charismatic musical individuals who had met in
the free music school of György Szabados: drummer Tamás Geröly and saxophonist István Grencsó.
To date they have released two albums on the BMC Records label, the second with Szilveszter
Miklós replacing Tamás Geröly on the drums. On the present album, Cryptic Scattered Images of
Time Forgotten, the delicate balance between improvisation and composition seems to tip in favour of
the latter, for it features Stevan Tickmayer’s older and newer compositions, which mark out a stricter
framework than before for the free-music improvisations.