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Guest ariceffron

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How strange.

I'm no expert on painting but I've long had a love of Friedrich, ever since seeing a reproduction on a Herman Hesse novel in the 70s. A visit to the big gallery in Berlin that houses his paintings in 1979 totally bowled me over. My living room is lined with Friedrich reproductions. I've even got a Friedrich desktop!


OK, I'll concede the point that ECM has a distinctive sound, one that derives from clarity of recording and a sense of space between instruments (remember that Eicher came from recording classical music). I can understand that the sound might be unattractive to some listeners.

I just think there's been some very lazy criticism of the label over the years (less so recently). I've read many a review of an ECM recording that uses the 'cold, clinical' put-down, frequently showing little interest in reviewing the actual music. In general this tends to be because the critic is either quite unsympathetic to a type of jazz that is distant from the core; often it's just idleness - knee-jerk repetition of an angle that someone else coined back in the 70s.

As is hinted above reactions to the type of music recorded by ECM and the way it is recorded will depend on where the listener is coming from. It fitted perfectly with my background in the mid-70s and I've found the label a source of riches ever since.

Whether you enjoy the approach or not it is hard not to credit Eicher with sustaining an independent label with a distinct, mainly non-commercial, vision for so long. And with setting up opportunities for scores of musicians to record what they want or for unusual collaborations to take place.

One such I'm looking forward to is a forthcoming McLaughlin/Vitous/Garbarek/Corea disc. Perhaps a bit more 'superstar' than is usual with ECM, but...

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I learned about it from the Jazzwise (UK magazine) site where they post up bits and bobs on a daily basis. You can read the mention here:


Look up Monday, June 23rd

It suggests an October release.

Someone mentioned at AAJ that Peter Erskine might also be involved.

Edited by Bev Stapleton
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I love Friedrich's work so much that I bought a couple of books so I could look at his pictures.

Penguin books used a Friedrich painting on the cover of Neitzche's "Ecce Homo."

Great Romantic painter. I'm surprised that his work isn't found in many of the great museums of the world. Is most of his stuff in German museums? Perhaps the curators and trust committees just dropped the ball when his paintings were on sale. Interesting to know.

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Friedrich's painting's have been used a great deal on book covers and on classical recording sleeves.

I have a marvellous book called "Caspar David Friedrich and the subject of landscape" with lots of good colour reproductions. It's a pretty intense read, especially if, like me, you're not used to the terminology of artistic aesthetics but rewarding nonetheless. There's a lot to decode in those painitings from religious imagery to romantic nature worship and comments on the nature of human existance right through to direct links with the liberation movement of the Napoleonic years.

One of the things that fascinated me about Friedrich's paintings when I first saw them in Berlin was the way they made me think of early Disney cartoons!!!

Look at the Abbey in the Oak Forest above and think back to the Ave Maria scene in Fantasia!

Yes, most of his stuff is in German museums. He's a big name in Germany. He just doesn't seem to have penetrated the wider European and American consciousness until quite recently.

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Here's a review of another book (Caspar David Friedrich

- Werner Hoffman) from the Amazon UK site that puts Friedrich in context:

A splendidly illustrated book supported by intelligent text, 20 February, 2001

Reviewer: A reader from Stockton-on -Tees, North East England

I have sought high and low for a decent book about Caspar david Friedrich. At last my prayer has been answered! This is a splendidly illustrated volume supported by intelligent and informative text about "the graphic artist-in-residence to the German Romantic Movement". The pictures, familiar and unfamiliar, are beautifully reproduced and the text,translated from the German by Mary Whittall, is scholarly but accessible. It sets the painter in the context not only of German Romanticism but also that of the wider "European" movement. It contains writings by the artist himself and by his contemporaries.

Deeply unfashionable for much of the period since his death in 1843, apart from a brief flowering under Hitler, who liked his work for the "wrong" reasons, appreciating his representational style but failing to understand the irony and symbolism beneath it, Caspar David Friedrich has been "rediscovered" in Germany during the past thirty years. Until now, however, he has largely been neglected in the English-speaking World, except for the use of his pictures as on the covers of CD's of German Romantic music.(Paul Nash's famous wartime painting the "Totes Meer" or "dead sea" was, however, undoubtedly an homage to , or pastiche of, Friedrich's "Sea of Ice")

This book and the forthcoming exhibition at the National Gallery in London should remedy this.

The book is one to treasure. Its subject is a landscape painter who did not, rather than could not, "do faces", preferring his usually diminutive human subjects to be seen from rear-view gazing enigmatically into the far distance - a distance usually of mist, mountain, impenetrable forest or cold Baltic Sea. His principal theme was the alienation of his human subjects against a background of unconquerable nature. He was a revolutionary, not in his deceptively representational style but in what he chose his landscapes and seascapes to represent. His paintings resonate with the angst of the German Romantics. The book quotes von Kleist when describing Friedrich's Seascape with a monk: "There can be nothing sadder or more desolate than this place..." A diminutive human figure or that icon of the gloomier German Romantics, a crow or raven, set against on of his vast landscapes conveyed deep meaning in a few brushstrokes. To quote von Kleist again: "....yet this painter has undoubtedly broken an entirely new path in the field of art, and I am convinced that, with his spirit, a square mile of sand of Brandenburg could be represented with a barberry bush on which a lone crow might sit preening itself." This sumptuous book captures it all. An unreserved five stars!

That line - His principal theme was the alienation of his human subjects against a background of unconquerable nature. - would seem to take us back to the comparison with ECM covers.

Have a look also here where there are a lot of online images:


He can also be found at:



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if you ever go on a CDF crusade and want to visit the ruins of the monastry he was so fond of painting (setting it in various kinds of unreal environments), give me a call. I work about 3 km away from those ruins. Also the cliffs of Rügen, of which he made some famous paintings, are close by.

There are some famous paintings of CDF in "our" museum as well.

The painting of the frozen sea is always printed in local papers when the baltic sea freezes up again (partially last winter).

Oh, and I'll have some beers in the fridge if you give an advance notice :g

Awesome, Couw!

Sounds like it would make a great vacation. Too bad I cannot afford any traveling right now. :(

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I'm sure I've read it somewhere in the past but it completely slips my mind. The Franklin voyage? Please tell us.

I'll be whizzing up the Jutland peninsula on my way to Sweden in a couple of weeks. Sadly I'll not have time for a Friedrich (and Gustavus Adolphus 1630) pilgrimage!

Edited by Bev Stapleton
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What I remember about ECM's sound, at least in its mid- to late-1970s heyday, was that Eicher and his engineers made sticks on ride cymbals sound like knitting needles.

I think this is what pulled me into the ECM records back in the 70's. I right away, liked the clarity of colors and textures of the drum mix, especially the cymbals.. The drummers like DeJohnette, Christenson, and Gottlieb based a lot of their concept around the cymbals more than the drums. The first album I heard was Eberhard Weber's "Yellow Fields" and that ride cymbal mix knocked me out! Other ECM favorites of mine are the Jon Hammer album, "Timeless", Keith Jarett's albums "My Song" & "Belonging".

In my opinion Manfred Eicher brought a refreshing and welcome new sound to the "Jazz table". :)

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You've got it, Bev. It was indeed the doomed Franklin expedition which made headlines in Europe.

Congrats! You are definitely THE Friedrich expert. :tup:party:

A guess actually!

The Franklin expedition clearly made a big impact across the world. There's a folk song called 'Lord Franklin' that turns up all over the place - I've heard English, Irish and American versions.

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I'm surprised that his work isn't found in many of the great museums of the world. Is most of his stuff in German museums?

You're right! Representative collections of his most important paintings can be found at Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin galleries.

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Let's try this.

For you historians out there:

Do you know the event which apparently inspired Friedrich to paint this scene?

A monograph on this particular painting by Peter Rautmann (C.D. Friedrich: Das Eismeer. Durch Tod zu neuem Leben. Frankfurt am Main 1991. Fischer Taschenbuch 10234, ISBN 3-596-10234-0) relates it more to the unsuccessful Parry expedition of 1819-20, as German contemporaries related it to the painting, but there is no document by Friedrich himself uncovering this. He planned to travel to Iceland, but it never happened; in fact he never saw the polar sea with his own eyes! Polar expeditions were quite a theme in those days, so who knows?

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I always wanted to visit Rügen after I had seen a reproduction of this painting when I was a boy. Furtunately it has happened three times since Germany has reunited. I stood there at the place where he might have stood. The cliffs' shapes change every year. That island is one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to .....

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I was involved a few local projects w/John Purcell during the time he was recording for ECM w/DeJohnette, and if he was to be believed (certainly no reason for me NOT to), there was a DEFINITE ECM "sound" in those days as it pertained to EQ'ing, soundstaging, use of reverb, stuff like that. The sound of the record as opposed to the style of the music.

I agree with that analysis. But there are also differences depending on the studio where it was recorded and the engineer who recorded or mixed it. The sessions made by Jan Erik Kongshaug in Oslo, in the Talent Studio and later Rainbow studio were mostly responsible for the "ECM sound". It often suited the music very well (Jan Garbarek) but could be off-putting especially with piano recordings, where most people prefer natural studio ambiance instead of artificial church acoustics. The recordings made by Martin Wieland at Tonstudio Bauer in Ludwigsburg (Germany) sounded much drier.

There is no doubt that almost all ECM studio sessions from the late 70's on are very well recorded. But it is the mixing and remastering that produced this special sound. The EQ'ing is an important factor. My impression is that they reduce the middle frequencies to produce a more brilliant and "round" sound, just like the Loudness switch on older amplifiers. All ECM recordings have this in common, independently where they were made. I don't like this attempt to beautify the music, it reminds me of the blurred image of face close-ups in Doris Day's films. :)

As far as the music is concerned I find it difficult to accept an opinion where somebody likes or hates ECM generally, because they produce music from so many different styles. I particularly like the albums from the 70's made by US artists like Dave Liebman, Richard Beirach, Steve Kuhn, Julian Priester, Sam Rivers and others. Maybe because they are untypical for ECM. These albums are also the hardest to find, some of them never made it to CD.

I don't like about ECM that they sell all of their catalogue at full price. Maybe it is the price for keeping everything in print.

Edited by Claude
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