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«Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2»

Dutch pianist Rembrandt Frerichs is known for his collaborative projects, and for creating exciting connections between world music (with Iranian masters Kayhan Kalhor and Hossein Alizadeh), contemporary and baroque music («The Contemporary Fortepiano» and commissioned work for the Amsterdam Sinfonietta) and jazz, with his own trio. His «Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2» was commissioned by viola player Michael Gieler of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and blends jazz improvisation, as played by Frerichs, the main soloist, with double bassist Dominic Seldis and his trio percussionist Vinsent Planjer and the beautifully notated music, abstracted by the chamber string quartet Alma. It is an exciting meeting between jazz musicians who treat a wrong note as the beginning of a new adventure with classical musicians who play by a score and are challenged by such liberties.

Frerichs ask us to imagine that you could travel in a time machine to a Beethoven or Mozart concert and you would notice that Ludwig and Wolfgang mainly played their own work. Moreover, they often did not have a notated piano score. Later, one of these performances was transcribed and notated for publishing purposes. Frerichs goes back to the original performance practice of the great masters and shows that classical and jazz are not as far apart as is often thought, and match the best of the two worlds. And like Ravel, Debussy, or Gershwin, he, the composer, sits at the piano and conducts the composition.

Frerichs devised these «Piano Concertos» as subtle, structured conversations between himself, bassist Seldis and percussionist Planjer and the Alma Quartet, following the innovative improvisational style of the American pianist-composer Lennie Tristano. The role of Frerichs as the soloist was to provide musical commentary and a counterpoint, and often he opens up the nuanced dialog with a spontaneous improvised gesture, and Seldis and Planjer drive the string quartet to groove-based ritual dances as on «Bohemian theme», «Elasticity» and «Blue penciled outlines», all from the 1st piano concerto «A wind invisible sweeps us through the world», also from the 1st concerto and originally recorded by Frerichs Trio, adds an exotic, traditional Iranian music aroma to the musical conversation. The four movements of the 2nd concerto cement further the playful, rhythmical games between the jazz musicians and the Elma Quartet, and here the whole ensemble sounds like an organic, balanced unit.

Eyal Hareuveni

Rembrandt Frerichs (p), Dominic Seldis (b), Vinsent Planjer (perc), Alma Quartet: Marc Daniel van Biemen (vio), Benjamin Peled (vio), Jeroen Woudstra (viola), Clément Peigné (c)

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