Tales of rabble-rousing heroes, iconoclastic poltergeists, living legends – in 2021, Eckart Runge and Jacques Ammon celebrate their quarter-century as a duo and the release of their debut album by Berlin Classics. 'Revolutionary Icons' is a bold, border-breaching album concept full of energy-packed music by Classical crossover craftsman Ludwig van Beethoven coupled with rock-pop-jazz icons – and at the same time, testimony to teamwork by two inquisitive and insatiable music explorers.
The track listing reads as if you were twiddling the knobs of the car radio and hopping back and forth between a classical station and rock radio. The duo launch their expedition with consummate master Beethoven and his 'Cello Sonata no. 4, op. 102/1'. “At first hearing impossible to understand,” wrote a puzzled contemporary after the 1815 premiere. The work is revolutionary in its formal layout, strict on counterpoint. After decades of engaging with Beethoven (in part as a member of the world-famous Artemis Quartet, of which he was the co-founder) Eckart Runge here sets out together with Jacques Ammon in search of bridges to recent music history and finds what he is looking for in familiar names such as Amy Winehouse on her big hit 'Back to Black', 'Purple Haze' by Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie’s 'Warszawa', the 'Bebop Tango' from Frank Zappa and finally 'Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing' by Stevie Wonder. All these counterparts are united by their commanding position within their genre, their readiness to break down barriers and indeed their legendary status and influence upon following generations of male and female musicians.
The settings of the songs for the combination of cello and piano were made in collaboration with the well known composer and arranger Wolf Kerschek. The prime consideration was to go beyond mere transposition of the works and to shed new light on them by exploiting the sonic potential of the instruments and the artistic capabilities of the two musicians. That applies no less to the works that forge links to the 19th century between the hits of the 20th: Beethoven’s previously discussed Sonata no. 4 for cello and piano and the arrangements of his song 'Adelaide', the third movement of his Piano Sonata op. 110 and the 'Cavatina' from his String Quartet op. 130.
The duo of Runge & Ammon arose from a shared passion for chamber-musical incursions into the territory of jazz, tango, rock music, and music for theatre and film. Along with their concept-guided programme planning and their intense emotional involvement, the two are known for their informative and entertaining moderation, delighting audiences and making ambitious topics accessible. Duo Runge & Ammon sees its artistic credo realized inter alia in social commitment. The two musicians give regular benefit concerts and get directly involved in such organizations as Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland, Yehudi Menuhin – Live Music Now, youth orchestra projects in South America and Mit-Mach-Musik ('all-join-in' music), a Berlin integration project for refugee children.