© Severin Koller
© Severin Koller
River Tales is the new album from Austrian composer, trombonist and pianist Martin Ptak. The album follows Martin’s previous solo record, Twilight Street, released in 2012. River Tales is available now via celebrated classical/compositional label Col Legno.
River Tales was recorded at the legendary Casino Baumgarten studios in Vienna, and features a specially formed ensemble, The River Tales Ensemble, directed by Martin, made up of strings, trombones, and piano, which is sometimes performed with special preparations or modifications. The ensemble is often further enriched by the deft use of live electronic sampling, Fender Rhodes and harmonium.
The River Tales album comprises a virtuosic mix of instrumental compositional pieces and flowing improvisations by the ensemble, always with Martin at the helm. He directs the players to create music which explores his relationship to childhood memories and loss. The elegiac trombone ensemble pieces are set against tapestries of strings and vibrant piano patterns. With Martin having grown up on the Blue Danube, in the small Austrian town of Krems, he has reflected on this idyllic childhood and taken his childhood love of soundtrack music as the inspiration for River Tales, which Martin describes as “a soundtrack for the flow of the river from it’s source to the sea”. The exploration of this theme of the river was a response to Czech composer Smetana’s The Moldau. Other musical inspirations include Ennio Morricone, Miles Davis and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Martin studied jazz trombone and jazz piano at the conservatoire Konservatorium Wien in Vienna, and then studied composition with Christoph Cech at the Bruckner University in Linz, Austria. Martin has composed and arranged for orchestra, big bands, brass ensembles, film and theatre. He is a prolific collaborator, and co-founded the Takon Orchester and the retro film music orchestra Velvet Elevator. Since 2010, Martin has been a regular fixture in the quartet Die Strottern & Blech, also contributing compositions and arrangements. For live performances the ensemble performs with lighting design by celebrated Dutch artist Nico de Rooij.
Martin Ptak has performed across Europe, to widespread acclaim. The River Tales Ensemble premiered the album at the ancient Minorite Church of Krems-Stein, Austria, and will be continuing to tour throughout 2019, with a debut tour in the UK on the cards.
The composition of River Tales by Martin Ptak was made possible by the kind support of Radio OE1, the state of Lower Austria and the Glatt&Verkehrt music festival.