I got up from bed at around three o'clock at night. I don't think the gentle cello play in the background woke me up but is surely got my attention. I decided to look it up and went outside,
following the directions my ears sent to my my brain. I was wearing something white and a bit baggy, like a long shirt. It fluttered in the warm summer wind. I approached a castle at the end of my village and started climbing the stairs towards the entrance door. The sounds of the cello became stronger and louder.
In the main hall, I heard an overwhelming array of soothing strings, seemingly coming from behind the doors on the first floors and upstairs. The pale white moonlight lit a piece of the beautiful mosaic on the floor. It was the face of Bach who was staring at me, smiling in approval. It smelled like ancient stones, leather and incense in the castle and a vague light of candles came from under some of the doors. I opened one and saw a man playing a cello in a room, lit with only a few candles. In another room I witnessed the same man, playing another, beautfil song. This continued for a while until I realised this was just a dream and there was no young maiden to rescue.
The next morning I decided to record this dream in a review about this album because it represents the overall atmosphere perfectly. These are indeed beautiful pieces of classical music, combined with a hint of jazz. Erik Friendlander does all of that with just one cello, what makes it even more stunning. The presence of Bach was no coincidence too, the composer has been a big influence on Friendlander and on this album. The 'suite-form', which is present in most of Bach's music, is also the basis of Illuminations.
The title of this album actually comes from an exhibition of ancient texts and books which Friedlander graced with his music. In his own words: "I found myself in this darkened room surrounded by these gorgeous books and manuscripts that seemed to be talking to me. They were telling me a story of patience and craft, ritual and dedication that was inspiring." The result is a dark and mysterious album that truly represents events and personalities of our far away history.
So yes, this is quite a brilliant suite, brought by a highly experienced musician/composer. Throughout his carreer, Friedlander spent some time with people like John Zorn and The Mountain Goats, but most of all he is an improvisor and an excellent instrumental storyteller. I enjoyed Illuminations a lot and I'm sure many other people (who are not necessaryly classical music connaisseurs) will be amazed and inspired by this piece of work.