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Franui: Consolation and cheers band from Tyrol surprises with true-life songs #HF17

Florian Boesch is at the front of the stage, around him are his bandmates. On big screen behind the band, a chair slowly melts away. Boesch has hands casually in his pockets. With a smile, the violinist initiates a horlepie-like tune.

Wie leiblich und frölich,
Zu schweben, zu singen,
Von glänzender Höhe,
Zur Erde zu blicken!

By the scruff of the neck

Humans may be fools, because we can't even fly. So teach the lyrics of the first song this evening, but Franui - the Tyrolean band on duty (English style, as in: rock band) - nonetheless takes up the gauntlet to grab five quarters of an hour of slipping time by the scruff of the neck. A flight against the wind.


A melting chair? Nonchalance? A band and still a Schubert song? Right. The band that includes many brass and woodwind players, plus chopper, double bass and harp and violin is dressed in black, with a white, blank sticker by way of anonymous nameplate on its chest. So is Boesch. One of the guys so and no standout to be put on the shield. Franui is a club without (personal) pretension; an Austrian jubilant band that stubbornly surprises.


That means songs by Mahler, Schumann, Brahms and Schubert are subjected to the Franui method. Averse to humbug, but certainly not disrespectful, the band rebuilds the well-known classics. Mercilessly, they take the historical songs elsewhere in time and place. Franui is not averse to a certain Schwung; hooking folk tunes with hoempa substrate or a true life-song touch in the form of Schlager-swagger is no stranger to them.


Just as easily, Franui takes the great composers to a New York jazz club or a steaming cabaret in Paris. And then you also hear snatches of Kurt Weill and Jean-Claude Vannier. The rigid-classical jacket thus falls off the songs; they come home to a bed of effortless recognition. It also makes them more ambiguous. Sadness can also point to a good life when all was well: Franui celebrates (at) such moments exuberantly. However, the group can also slow down enough to arrive at fragility. In terms of intensity, this is reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's world-famous cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'.

To dust

At times, the cheerful winks in the arrangements elicit chuckles from the audience. These give air to a show that is unified without sticks. Not least, this is emphasised by Jonas Dahlberg's video artwork that even plays upon entering. Slowly, the interior of a bedroom melts and decays: chair gone, lamp, bedside table. The bed too decays to dust, leaving the ashes to ashes-theme is now the common thread throughout the lyrics of the songs.

Intelligible idol

Bass-baritone Boesch is a world-class singer with a timbre that recalls moss green as well as brass and red brass. His range is so great that he sings 'Über die Heide' by Brahms in the soprano version. 'Man's facial expression, not overly exalted gestures and extremely intelligible diction not only give the songs the necessary zest for life. Boesch also brings them close; makes the texts voluble and touchable. Just as everyone knows a bedroom that Dahlberg shows, Boesch brings recognition. And that is an identification not far removed from the idol effect that pop stars can have.

Waits & Brennan

According to musical director Andreas Schett, Musicbanda Franui wants to "take the art song off its pedestal." The mission is "to give the wry, the trivial, the raw and the unpolished a place in this music again." It is little wonder, then, that thoughts turn several times during this programme to Tom Waits and the abrasive and hilarious arrangements written by his wife Kathleen Brennan. Together also great and grand storytellers. Makers, moreover, of music you would prefer not to hear in a concert setting. A seedy nightclub seems the natural habitat for their songs.

Consolation and cheers

Ideally, Franui lands his way in a Bierkeller with an audience that has already had a few Schnapps behind their teeth. Where you then hear Purcell's 'Dido's Lament' after the innkeeper has rung the last-round bell. "May my wrongs create, no trouble, no trouble in thy breast," Boesch sings one more time. As if it were a himmelhoch jauchzend, comforting drinking song. The thunderous ovation fills the hall as a massive Prosit!

Good to know
Seen: Alles Wieder Gut - Franui, 21 June 2017, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ.

Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg

Sets his ear to places he does not yet know in today's sound. Writes the catalogue raisonné of Swedish artist Leif Elggren's oeuvre, is a board member of Unsounds and programmes music at GOGBOT Festival. His essays on sound art have appeared on releases by Pietro Riparbelli, Michael Esposito, Niels Lyhnne Løkkegaard and John Duncan.View Author posts

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