Musical Introduction Series: Breath and Hammer

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David Krakauer and Kathleen Tagg have been performing as a duo since 2012, in music ranging from classical composers, such as Brahms, Debussy and Janacek, all the way to contemporary trailblazers. Their latest project, Breath and Hammer, is an innovative reimagining of the traditional clarinet and piano recital that integrates folk and improvisation-based music with classical masterworks. Via their own lush and adventurous new arrangements, they are able to fully exploit Krakauer’s use of extended techniques, improvisation and circular breathing on the clarinet, and Tagg’s tremendous prowess inside the piano to use it as a harp, a zither, a drum and a cello. The repertoire of Breath and Hammer is made up of “simple songs” by composers as diverse as New York-based visionary John Zorn, Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, as well as original compositions by Krakauer and Tagg, traditional South African music and klezmer. These diverse and seemingly disparate musical influences intermingle, transformed into something entirely new, a hybrid art form that bridges the cultures of the past and new work that looks towards the future.