Innovative cellist/composer Gideon Freudmann's original scores for silent films incorporate classical, jazz, folk, and world music elements. Working with an electric cello and real-time electronic effects, he creates elaborate sound textures, haunting melodies, and driving rhythms that beautifully enhance and energize the imagery of silent films.
Gideon CD, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, is a live recording accompanying the classic 1919 German Expressionist silent film. He has accompanied silents throughout the US and peerless in his unique and original approach to this timeless art form.
Gideon has composed and performed soundtracks for:The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Gideon has presented these shows at museums, colleges, opera houses, art spaces and historic movie theaters throughout the country.
Please contact him if you would like to schedule him in your area infocellobop.com.
Theatres and festivals from Bucksport, Maine to Berkeley, are rediscovering the art of the silent movie. And many are doing it the old-fashioned way - with live musical accompaniment. Hadley Cellist Gideon Freudmann has performed recently for shows in the Berkshires, Vermont and Colorado. He'll bring the form home Saturday when the Amherst Film Club presents the groundbreaking 1927 German film "Metropolis," by Austrian/American Director Fritz Lang.
"I seem to be specializing in German Expressionist films of the '20s," Freudmann said recently as he gave a visitor what he calls "the tour of the toys" in his home studio. "I've performed with 'Pandora's Box,' 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' and this is my second time doing the soundtrack for Metropolis. " The tour of the toys is a jaunt through the accessories to Freudmann's electric cello, the instrument he's been specializing in for the last five years, and the one he will use to create the mood for Metropolis. One pedal creates an echo, another can "memorize" a phrase and repeat it indefinitely or reverse it as Freudmann layers on more phrases and/or plays a counterpoint. There's a distortion pedal and one that can delay a phrase or change the pitch. "It's another way to color the sound," Freudmann says. "The cello is an instrument that mostly plays one note at a time. This (equipment) helps me build layers of sound to create textures and tensions and weave them together. It allows me to play different sounds for different characters."
Freudmann, who has also composed and recorded soundtracks for several contemporary independent films, prepares for accompanying the silents by watching the films several times, always with the sound off. Though he takes special note of scene changes and other transitions, he doesn't write anything down. "When I perform one of these movies, I'm led by my mood," he says. "It doesn't feel the same every time. In a way, it's like going to a concert. The feel of the movie will change with every performance." What the music adds is atmosphere, he says, sometimes by reinforcing what's happening on the screen, sometimes by providing stark contrast. And what's happening on the screen, says Larry Jackson, longtime managing director of the Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge, will be the world's first science fiction feature film. Jackson, a member of the board of the Amherst Cinema Center, will introduce the film and set it in a historical context. "The influence of this film is extraordinary," he says.
Gideon Freudmann's latest sonic offering is something of a departure from his previous albums. The same virtuoso playing and mindbending digital enhancements, which Gideon has put his special mark upon, are here. But instead of a collection of tunes grouped together as a mix, Caligari has a cinematic flow and duration, being the live recording of Gideon's accompaniment to the great silent German Expressionist film of the same name. Enhancing his already full solo sound are Michael DiMartino on percussion, Dave Hower on drums, and Chris Haynes on accordian, who provide a post-production musical flourish that blends effortlessly with Gideon's previously captured performance- just the right addition of arabesque drumming and the old-world sigh of the squeezebox.
Caligari is a tale of madness, and the trademark Cellobop psychedelia serves it well, as the Cello is taken thru delicate passages of suspense that crescendo into lunging cascades of action and cabaret-like musical segues. The traditional structures of the short musical number, which even in Gideon's prior albums exploring pure instrumentals employed, are hinted at here, but the free-flowing nature of the music as film soundtrack blends and washes these foundations down and around in a flood of unfolding atmosphere that is dark, expressionist, sinisterly humorous, and evokes noir-ish thought pictures, reflecting the film's starkly unusual design.
Like a dream, or to be more precise, like a movie, Caligari does not pause to inform us that a new song has begun. Their are 10 tracks on the album, but they are assembled in such a way that there are no breaks in the performance. This allows for listening that is not confined to three minute, twenty second stories... Caligari is just shy of a full hour of exotic journeying through a detailed landscape of mystery, mood and musical craftsmanship. Watch it along with a copy of the film- or better yet, make yourself comfortable, close your eyes, and allow this album to create a wholly unique movie in your mind. -DL
"The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari"
with Gideon's original score.
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