Salut Salon - Carnival Fantasy (Warner Classics)
Think back to when you were 11 years old. Do you remember your best friend? You know, that totally fun person that always made you laugh? For Angelika Bachmann, who grew up in Hamburg, Germany, that special friend was Iris Siegried. "We played in the school orchestra and we drove the conductor crazy with our laughing fits and we shared the same sense of humor from the first moments," Angelika recalls. "We were very big friends. And we played together, and after a few years we played on the street and had some private concerts. And now we play in the big halls."
Fourteen years ago Angelika and Iris formed Salut Salon, a delightful all-women quartet featuring two violins, vocals, cello and piano. "We play actually very serious classical music, but we add some funny things and we write our own songs and we do some acrobatics and play upside down. So there's so much fun in some pieces of the music. I think you don't have to do a lot. You just have to play it like it is."
That's right: they play up-side-down, with their bows behind their backs, and they even all unite on one instrument on their YouTube video, "Competitive Foursome," which has had more than 20 million views.
I asked Angelika what kinds of comments Salut Salon get from the audience. "It depends," Angelika says with a wink. "There are people who know a lot about classical music, and they tell us what classical melodies they recognize in our pieces and they like our arrangements. And people who never have been to a classical concert they say it didn't hurt at all."
Salut Salon create most of their own arrangements on their latest CD, titled Carnival Fantasy. This carnival atmosphere is enhanced with a zoological theme. "I think humans and animals are much more alike than anyone thinks," Angelika explains. "We wrote a song, 'There's a Zoo Inside of Me,' and I think it was a very funny and interesting time for us to find out that sometimes you think you're as strong as a lion or as beautiful as a swan, which we are playing on the singing saw. Sometimes you just want to flee like the flight animals and the carnival of the animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. It's interesting that we are so close together, the animals and we, I think."
That's right, you heard Angelika refer to a singing saw on "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saëns. So, why a singing saw you might ask? "Because I love The Swan from Camille Saint-Saëns so much, and I love the singing saw," Angelika says. "I played it for many years and it's very difficult to play it on the singing saw and I practiced and in the end I got it and the sound is very special. I love it very much."
What kind of bow do you use? I ask; after all, wouldn't a saw chew up your bow? "I do it on the other side of the saw," Angelika laughs.
Salut Salon also give their own treatment to another unusual work by Saint-Saëns, titled "Africa." "It's a big orchestral work from Camille Saint-Saëns, and we fell in love with this piece and we always arrange these pieces completely new. We found a very special way to arrange it for just four players, and I love it."
You'll also fall in love with Salut Salon's arrangement of Jacques Ibert's, "The Little White Donkey." "There's a piece from Camille Saint-Saëns about the donkeys and the very funny noises. So we thought we must find another piece that suits this, and it's from Ibert, 'The Little White Donkey.' And this donkey is more sweet than the donkeys from Camille Saint-Saëns."
For something a bit more restful, you can quietly enjoy "Sheep may Safely Graze," by J.S. Bach. "This piece is one of my favorite pieces, too," Angelika says. "It's very … I love the music of J.S. Bach anyway very, very much. And I think it's something like the inside of a cathedral. I can't explain it … very deep music."
While working on this Carnival Fantasy, the four members of Salut Salon awakened their creativity by taking a little trip. "Yes, at the beginning of the year we were in Africa, in Nairobi, and we did a big safari for a few days," Angelika says. "So we saw the animals in reality and then we got inspiration for our program."
Enjoy Carnival Fantasy by Salut Salon … and explore the zoo inside of you!