November 1, 2006
First Choice: Piano Solo KKL Luzern
Intakt CD 108
Not altering her style one whit despite the location, Irène Schweizer, Switzerlands pre-eminent improvising pianist, confirms her skills as a player, composer and interpreter on this CD, recorded live at Lucernes classical music concert hall whose initials are KKL.
Encompassing child-like fantasias, fortissimo slides and breaks plus internal string manipulated with mallets and toys, Schweizers seven pieces range across South African highlife dances, atonal European experimental timbres, and American blues and boogie woogie. During one number she effectively mocks the venues high culture pretensions by scratching the high gloss varnish of the buildings walls while reverberating bottleneck guitar-like slides with hand-stopped piano strings.
Commencing with an almost 19½-minute improvisation that introduces splayed waterfalls of notes, repetitive right-handed slurs plus vibrant, polyphonic overtones, she interpolates standard jazz licks and kwela references before concluding with passing chords and echoing string clusters.
With her touch thick and syncopated as often as its organic and gently balladic, the pianists Thelonious Monk-like cadences on one number foreshadow her jaunty, stride infused version of his Oska T. the sets only non-original which concludes the official program. Jungle Beats II, her encore, is a jumpy and jocular summation of the proceedings, melding jazzs rubato freedom with the recurring tremolo of South African dance themes.
In the fourth decade of her musical career, the Swiss pianist proves without dispute that a well appointed concert hall is one proper place to hear her music should she want to play there.
For Whole Note Vol. 12 #3