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Irene Schweizer: First Choice - Piano Solo KKL Luzern

Nic Jones By

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Comparison between the opening bars of the lengthy title track on First Choice and Cecil Taylor's solo work reveals interesting details. Where Taylor's more reflective passages tend often to preview bombast and iconoclasm writ large, Irene Schweizer's approach to the piano seems more reflective—more prone to rumination on an idea or a fragment of an idea—and it makes for music that holds the attention more by stealth than by sheer impact. Over the course of these nineteen minutes, there isn't a second that's wasted.

There might be no little irony in a title like "Into The Hall Of Fame," but Schweizer seems to adopt a more expansive approach here. The results reveal her idiosyncratic way with a phrase and the fact that her instrumental voice, having spent decades in gestation, is entirely her own.

Irony might not have been too far from her thoughts with "Scratching At The KKL," either. It's the only time she goes under the piano lid, an act which in itself reveals just how deep her intuitive grasp of dynamics can be; her manipulation of strings is deft, and the low volume of the sounds she produces could well serve as a musical example of Samuel Beckett's declared wish "to leave a stain upon the silence."

Reference has to be made to the exceptional fidelity of this recording, which indeed seems to be a growing characteristic of Intakt releases. This is arguably most apparent here on "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Piano Player," where the variations of Schweizer's touch are abundantly apparent.

A real mark of this disc is the degree of difference between the surface of the music and what lies beneath it. With that in mind, it can almost serve as background in the sense of being complementary to some activity other than listening itself—but deeper listening reveals the work of a fierce musical intelligence, however, and is by far the preferable alternative.


Track Listing: First Choice; Into The Hall Of Fame; The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe; Scratching At The KKL; The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Piano Player; Oska T.; Jungle Beats II.

Personnel: Irene Schweizer: piano.

Title: First Choice - Piano Solo KKL Luzern | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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