Vijay Iyer and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) ‘Radhe Radhe. Rites of Holi’ DVD or Blue Ray (ECM) 4/5

vijay-iyerThis is an interesting venture from ECM that combines wordless documentary and music to useful effect and is a homage of sorts to the music and dance collaboration of Russian composer Stravinsky and choreographer Nijinsky on the famous ballet ‘Le Sacré du Printemps. An initial thirty-five minute documentary on India provides a visual feast and backdrop with dance sequences featuring Nawazaddin Siddiqui. From a musical perspective, Iyer performs on acoustic piano with accompanying in the form of the ICE who add something of a classical edge with brass, flute and woodwind. The extended suite goes through various stages and this is reflected in the pace of the music with one part sounding as though it has been heavily influenced by Manuel de Falla’s ‘Fire Dance’ and here the combination of flute, brass and percussion works especially well. A bonus near twenty-minute segment includes the band in live performance. Full marks to ECM for having the foresight to undertake this exploration of music and dance. Hopefully, at some stage there will be a resulting CD with extra pieces.

Tim Stenhouse