This blog has a long history of covering Libertango played on unusual instruments. Today's featured video is not Libertango but it does include an unusual instrument - the Cristal Baschet. The song is Piazzolla's second most frequently performed composition, Oblivion, from the movie Enrico IV.
The performance is by the Ensemble Hope at the 2011 edition of the Nuits de Nacre accordion festival held in Tulle, France. The accordionist in the video is Sébastien Farge, a master of the French musette sound, who provides a gentle swing to his role in the video. The dominant sound at the opening is from the cimbalom (hammer dulcimer) played by Veronika Adamicova. But if you listen to the bass sounds at the opening you will hear the real star of the video the bass Cristal Baschet played by Marc Antoine Millon who is joined on a "standard" Cristal Baschet by Frédéric Bousquet, in whose workshop the Cristal Baschets are built.
Cristal Baschets were developed by the brothers Bernard and François Baschet. from work in sound sculptures they began in 1952. The instruments consist of tuned glass rods which are stroked with damp fingers producing tones in the same way the wet rims of crystal wine goblets produce sound in a glass harp. The Baschet's invented a way to amplify the relatively soft sounds of the rods through sculpted megaphones of plastic or sheet metal which allow the instruments to compete sonically with other instruments. There are not too many Cristal Baschets in existence - the Bousquet Workshop website suggests that approximately fifty of the instruments have been made. We are fortunate to be able to hear Piazzolla played on such a rare instrument. In addition to the Cristals, the Bousquet Workshop also produces a number of other tuned, percussive sound sculpture instruments invented by the Baschets. You can hear the sounds of these many instruments on their excellent Structures Sonores website.
The ethereal tones of the Cristal Baschet are a good match for the mellow sounds of Oblivion.
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