Trio Bravo,
Menschen am Sonntag
(Ozella, 2003)

Most albums are the musical equivalent of story anthologies, a collection of songs united by creator and genre and little else. Trio Bravo's Menschen am Sonntag is a novel, a rich, unified piece of work where each chapter builds on what came before and is enhanced by what comes next.

The tale opens with the moody prologue of "Vorspann." Its moody atmospherics set the stage for the dancing antics of the cast in "Strohfeur," a slightly mad, manic piece of music built on reckless percussion and slyly gossiping piano. From there the tale goes through the playfully ominous "Marsch am grofsen Stern," with its plodding pace and amiable violin smile dissolving into psychotic breaks of activity; the delicate and suspenseful "Rendez-vous" and the scene-shifting, ominous "Querelen," with marimba highlights playing across rippling waves of piano and thundering bass. There is the perfectly lovely, but romantically dark "Berliner Waltz" while violin and marimba perform a mad whirl through "Zwolf uhr Mittags." The sparse, music-box notes of "Altes Grammophon" draw the story into a deceptive lull just in time for the crescendoing dramatics of the finale, "Montag." This darkly dramatic tale is held together by another half-dozen subtle moments of musical narrative, as voices echo through this instrumental drama without a word being said.

Trio Bravo creates a complex and varied sound that would do an orchestra proud, with just four musicians and a fairly simple ensemble. Mark Chaet floats his violin over Svetoslav Karparov's piano, changing the scenery from carnival to dancehall. Adam Tomaszewskie and Sergie Sweschinskii populate the setting with marimba and contrabass, quick stepping percussion and wandering e-stick bass. Each musician plays his part with smooth ease that makes the notes seem to play themselves. There is no moment of hesitancy or hint of discord in the satin finish of their performance, and it gives a seductive perfection to their shared storytelling.

I must admit I don't know what Trio Bravo's intentions were in making this musical tale. Everything about the album is in various non-English languages, too thick for the translation powers of my cheap software. It's possible that this is meant to be the soundtrack to a film; it certainly has the feel of a narrative. Indeed, Menschen am Sonntag would not just make a good soundtrack for a movie; it would make a good base for a movie, as each piece provides characters, motive and action. Menschen am Sonntag is an album for people who love old movies and epic dramas. For listeners ready to honor the performers' craft with long attention, a tale of beauty and suspense awaits.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 6 March 2004