At Schumann

C. Michael Bailey By

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The German jazz label Winter & Winter is divided into several Editions, each addressing a different aspect of music. One is AudioFilm. The label's website brags that this is "cinema for closed eyes, adding "AudioFilms are musical essays about a whore house in Paris, the sidewalks of New York, the journey with the Orient Express, the travelogue about a trip to La Habana, and ... . Some of these ambiences received attention in Uri Caine's The Sidewalks of New York: Tin Pan Alley and Rio for the label.

This experiment mostly works well and works best when the listener is aware of the label's intentions. Often added to these musical discs are street noises, bar glasses clinking, people talking, etc. The overall result is the listener has the aural environment of being there. When listening to any of these recordings with headphones, the listener will be struck at how well the surrounding noises are incorporated into the overall recordings. The music is superb and fitting for the chosen theme.

Perhaps Winter & Winter's greatest success with this idea is Fumio Yasuda and Theo Bleckmann's Las Vegas Rhapsody: The Night They Invented Champagne. Curiously released under the label's Music Edition, Las Vegas Rhapsody celebrates in sound the centenary of that fabled city. Composer Fumio Yasuda provides segue to a new evolution of the AudioFilm.

Of recent interest to the label as a theme for AudioFilm is the famous German saloon Schumann's. Schumann's was founded by impresario Charles Schumann originally in the Maximillianstrasse district of Munich. In late 2003, Schumann achieved a wish and moved his bar to the famous Hofgarten district, an area well known for its street musicians and cafes. The bar is known for its eclectic and cosmopolitan yet strictly German ambience. Winter & Winter has built two superb AudioFilms around Schumann's, one devoted to its salon music and Stehgeiger (roaming violinists who mix with the crowd) and the other of strictly piano bar music.

Prima Carezza
Salon Music At Schumann's Bar
Winter & Winter

For lack of a better definition, salon music is light classical aspiring to be more than that. Composer Georges Boulanger is a famous purveyor of salon music. Several of his pieces are included on Salon Music At Schumann's Bar. The salon music of the pre-war Germany is carefully recreated by the septet Prima Carezza, who deftly despatch light classics by Brahms, Massenet, Boulanger, and Kalman. This music is geared toward the virtuoso violinist showing off his or her wares. The music has a gypsy ethnic flair accentuated by Christoph Ogg's clarinet and Wieslaw Pipczynski's accordion.

Even the completely naive will recognize several of the melodies found on Salon Music At Schumann's Bar, including Minkus's Music from "La Bayadère," Boulanger's "Hora Mare and "Comme-ci, comme-ça, and Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 2 and 6. This is music of drama and romance performed against a live audience backdrop. The final sum is of an elegant night at a sparkling place where the listener is intoxicated with heady music and strong waters.

Fumio Yasuda
Schumann's Bar Music
Winter & Winter

Fumio Yasuda, who so capably recreated Las Vegas in Las Vegas Rhapsody, works the identical magic on Tin Pan Alley standards for Schumann's bar. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the bar with glasses colliding, people talking, waiter's barking, all in German, Yasuda perfectly captures the bravura of cocktail piano, not of any low order, but of the highest order. Swirling out of the cacophony emerges the theme to Gone With The Wind, arpeggios climbing, octaves ringing, glissandos shimmering. It is tasteful yet over-the-top pianism that carefully tightropes above the gauche, never falling into it.

Yasuda possesses a grand orchestral quality to his playing not unlike what one would have expected the great Liszt to sound like. Yasuda's technique brightly colors these well-rubbed pieces, making them shine brightly. He paints with a broad left hand on "Someday My Prince Will Come and bounces with a refined one on "Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now. There is not a blue note on the entire recording. This is the American Songbook as performed before Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and the bebop revolution. "Over the Rainbow is introduced from the bridge and then performed like the inverse of Errol Garner. "Moon River is handled in the same way. The seldom considered "Edelweiss gives this disc its comfortable close bar feel. It is almost like being there.

Tracks and Personnel

Salon Music At Schumann's Bar

Tracks: Music from "La Bayadère" [Ludwig (Léon) Minkus]; Norinka [Georges Boulanger]; Sîrba din Muntenia [Grigoras Dinicu]; Komm, Zigány!, from "Gräfin Mariza" [Emmerich Kálmán]; Tango, Du bist doch meine Lieblingsmusik [Jupp Schmitz]; Fripon [Josef Rixner]; Hora Mare [Georges Boulanger]; Mein Herz [Georges Boulanger]; Ungarischer Tanz # 2 [Johannes Brahms]; Tes yeux noirs, Gipsy (Otchi Tchornia) [Trad.]; Was ein Zigeuner fühlt, from "Melodie der Nacht" [Ludwig Schmidseder]; Méditation [Jules Massenet]; Czardas [Vittorio Monti]; Comme-ci, comme-ça [Georges Boulanger]; Einmal ist keinmal [Ralph Benatzky]; Budapest bei Nacht [Geza Belti-Pilinszky]; Cavatine [Joachim Raff]; Krach-Czardas [Georges Boulanger]; Ungarischer Tanz # 6 [Johannes Brahms]; Bessarabican Hora [Trad.].

Personnel: Michaela Paetsch Neftel: violin; Klaus Neftel: violin; Cheryl House: cello; Christoph Ogg: clarinet; Wieslaw Pipczynski: accordion; Fred Greder: bass; Tobias Schabenberger: piano.

Schumann's Bar Music

Tracks: At Schumann's; Gone With The Wind [Steiner]; Emily [Mandel/Mercer]; Someday My Prince Will come [Churchill/Morey]; So Do I [Mackeben]; Im Weißen Rössl [Benatzky]; Somewhere Over The Rainbow [Arlen/Harburg]; Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now [Fats Waller]; Try To Remember [Schmidt]; Moon River [Mercer/Mancini]; Edelweiss [Rodgers/Hammerstein]; Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me) [Ellington/Gaines]; I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face [Loewe/Lerner]; Amazing Grace; Charade [Mancini]; I Loves You Porgy [George & Ira Gershwin/Hart]; Bewitched [Rogers/Hart]; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes [Kern/Harbach]; Last Waltz [Reed/Mason].

Personnel: Fumio Yasuda: piano.


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