Asian Fields Variations marks the first time that clarinettist Louis Sclavis, violinist Dominique Pifarély and cellist Vincent Courtois, long-time colleagues, have recorded as a trio. All three are major figures in contemporary French creative music : this is a new group with a lot of history. Sclavis and Pifarély have played together in diverse contexts for 35 years, Sclavis and Courtois for 20 years. As one can hear on the recording, they have retained the capacity to surprise each other – and their listeners – as improvisers. Alertness and freshness are key qualities here. “We’re always drawing also on a lot of different playing experiences. And those experiences are reflected in what we write, and what we play. We’re continually bringing new things to the project, and we keep going deeper.”
If the instrumentation – clarinet, violin, cello – implies a chamber music orientation, each of the players has his own compositional signature, however, with Dominique Pifarély’s pieces being perhaps the most rigorously “written” here. The balance of composition and improvisation, Sclavis notes, was also readjusted in the course of the recording session, produced by Manfred Eicher, at Studios La Buissone in Pernes-les-Fontaines in the South of France September 2017.