Tell Me Everything

Ernst Reijseger

2010 Edison Classical Award Contemporary Music

It was because of Reijseger’s solo album Tell Me Everything that composer Louis Andriessen invited Reijseger to play cello solo in Carnegie Hall in the series Three Naughty Boys and Three Crazy Girls. Reijseger’s long-awaited solo cello debut in that famous venue was announced with the words:

“His technique is superb, his improvisational skills masterful, and his compositional virtuosity unquestionable, but Reijseger’s music also projects warmth, depth, and splendor—even at its most extreme. Whether pushing the limits of jazz, world music, or modern classical—working solo or with an ensemble—Reijseger never settles for the obvious.”
Jeff Tamarkin

But Carnegie Hall never happened. It was cancelled, due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, when enormous clouds of volcanic ashes blocked the sky between Europe and the USA for days. All flights were cancelled. Dutch colleagues of the Asko | Schönberg were stranded in New York City, and Reijseger was stuck in the Netherlands. At six o’clock in the morning of the day of the concert, he made a final attempt to book a flight. Impossible. He had to let it go. 

Will there be another chance to perform in Carnegie Hall? He sure hopes so. Until then, we have Tell Me Everything. 

About Tell Me Everything:

“There are passages involving hand percussion on the body of the cello, for example, and modern jazz drumming and the freer varieties of jazz in general seem to be important components of the music. …The jazz influence is by no means thoroughgoing; there are echoes of Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, of Romantic virtuoso music, and of minimalism. Reijseger never does the same thing twice, and in fact the pieces resemble each other very little, which is quite an accomplishment for a disc of solo cello music. The sound, recorded in a medieval Tuscan commenda, or commandry house, is magical”.
James Manheim, Allmusic

“On his solo recital Tell Me Everything, Reijseger continues his series of Italian in situ recordings with a solo set supplementing the voice of the cello with a menagerie of birds. Recorded at La Commenda di San Eufrosino Volpaia in Tuscany, it’s a curious sort of recital for a chattering aviary. Unlike recent recordings-with-birds by Evan Parker or Miya Masaoka, for example, Reijseger does not seem to be playing along with the aviary or even necessarily for them. The 13-track session has a formal feel, compositions by fellow cellist Tristan Honsinger, composer/pianist Fumio Yasuda and Reijseger himself, played solo, beautifully and seemingly straight through. At times the birds quiet down and Reijseger in turn gives them the spotlight on occasion, but there seems to be more happenstance than anything in the solo/sonata. 
It shouldn’t be left without saying that Reijseger’s playing here is remarkable. The subtlety and dynamism in his playing is astounding; he’s a master among cellists and an unusual conceptualist.”
Kurt Gottschalk, All about Jazz

No need to romanticise the recording location or give meaning to the birds. Yes, La Commenda di San Eufrosino in Volpaia, Tuscany, Italy, is incredibly beautiful and full of atmosphere. It belongs to a very kind lady who received the village of Volpaia as a wedding gift from her father. The birds on the recording sound natural, because they were natural. They were not planned. They were just there. The only time when they were silent was at night. The recordings took place late at night and before sunrise, because during office hours, vehicles with empty bottles drove by the location, making so much noise that recording was pointless. La Commenda di San Eufrosino was not heated. It was April, Volpaia lies at a height of 800 meters, and Spring had not yet begun. Reijseger played the cello wrapped in blankets. His strings were freezing cold. 

The only place that was heated was the local restaurant, which had a fireplace. 

The title of the album is inspired by a kind Italian waiter, who stood at Reijseger’s table to take the order and said “Dimmi tutto” – Tell Me Everything. 

Now we have told you everything.