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COMPOSERS: Chopin/Loussier
LABELS: Telarc
ALBUM TITLE: Impressions on Chopin’s Nocturnes
WORKS: Impressions on Chopin’s Nocturnes
PERFORMER: Jacques Loussier (piano
Throughout his long career, Jacques Loussier has not used jazz so much to transform classical music as to decorate and embellish it with jazz elements. However, Chopin’s nocturnes provide the creative impetus for Loussier to stretch his improvisational wings to a wider degree than usual. In the absence of the tightly honed bass and drums arrangements Loussier usually provides, the pianist’s unaccompanied Chopinesque musings lead to interesting notions. Down and dirty tinges of gospel colour the Nocturnes in F sharp, Op. 15/2 and in A flat, Op. 32/2. The B major, Op. 32/1, works well as an upbeat Calypso jaunt. Over a trudging two-note ostinato, Loussier turns the outer sections of Op. 55/1 into wispy, aphoristic commentaries. Hints of Spanish and French impressionism (as well as New Age) emerge from the pianist’s watercoloured paraphrases of Op. 55/2 and Op. 27/1. Throughout the recital I kept wishing that Loussier would summon up the confidence to loosen up his accomplished yet inhibited pianism, and push his ideas to more dynamic, impassioned extremes in order to realise their fullest potential. The torrential middle section of Op. 15/1 is a case in point: why put out the flame when you’ve only just begun to cook? Jed Distler