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Piano Music of Alexis Weissenberg
     

The Piano Music of Alexis Weissenberg

by Simon Mulligan
 
Here is a double debut: world premiere recordings of music by Alexis Weissenberg, performed by pianist Simon Mulligan in his first solo album. Weissenberg, it turns out, is not only a virtuoso pianist of the highest order but a fine composer, too. His Sonate en état de jazz (Sonata in

Overview

Here is a double debut: world premiere recordings of music by Alexis Weissenberg, performed by pianist Simon Mulligan in his first solo album. Weissenberg, it turns out, is not only a virtuoso pianist of the highest order but a fine composer, too. His Sonate en état de jazz (Sonata in the Jazz Style) is a fascinating work that owes as much to the contrapuntal and harmonic complexities of Schoenberg and Berg as it does to the cool, improvisatory spirit of Art Tatum and Bud Powell. Mulligan unravels the intricate textures with ease, bringing out the sonata's lyrical, nostalgic mood. Le regret is an atmospheric tone poem -- a bit too long, perhaps, but it complements the sonata nicely. To round off the disc, Mulligan improvises on four songs from a Parisian revue, La fugue. This is pure jazz, and Mulligan's dexterous flights of fancy never fail to tickle the ear. All in all, an auspicious occasion.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Alex Henderson
Combining jazz and European classical music is not something new. Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and Louis Armstrong were influenced by classical music in the 1920s, and the third stream movement of the 1950s was all about fusing jazz and classical. Nonetheless, jazz/classical fusion still has many possibilities in the 21st century, and acoustic pianist Simon Mulligan examines some of them on The Piano Music of Alexis Weissenberg. Recorded in 2001, this excellent CD finds Mulligan turning his attention to the work of composer Alexis Weissenberg. The age difference between Mulligan and Weissenberg is sizable; while Weissenberg was born in 1929, Mulligan wasn't born until the 1970s. In other words, Weissenberg is old enough to be Mulligan's grandfather. But the age difference didn't prevent the musicians from enjoying one another's company. Weissenberg was present in the studio when this album was recorded, and Mulligan obviously has a strong feeling for his music. Mulligan plays with a great deal of emotion on Weissenberg pieces such as "Le Regret" and the 30-minute "Sonate en Etat de Jazz," both of which remind us just how appealing a combination jazz and classical can be. Mulligan's haunting, evocative performances are not aimed at purists -- not jazz purists, not classical purists. Rather, The Piano Music of Alexis Weissenberg favors a musical hybrid that has one foot in jazz and the other in European classical. It is a combination that offers considerable rewards, but only if you are broad-minded enough to realize that jazz and classical -- for all their differences -- are equally valid. Anyone who has spent a lot of time savoring the Modern Jazz Quartet or the experiments of Gunther Schuller should not have a problem absorbing The Piano Music of Alexis Weissenberg.
International Record Review - Martin Anderson
Mulligan plays the stuff superbly, and Nimbus has given him a wonderfully natural sound.... A most intriguing disc, well worth exploration.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/02/2001
Label:
Nimbus Records
UPC:
0710357568824
catalogNumber:
5688
Rank:
265838

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