Intelligent programming in a jazz release provides its own reward in seasoning the recital contained therein with a thoughtful foundation. Canadian pianist John Roney entitles his recording Preludes and proceeds to populate the disc with exactly that, "Preludes," those brief, often standalone keyboard compositions from the Romantic era. Preludes most often feature a limited number of rhythmic and melodic motifs that recur through the piece. Important in jazz, the prelude is an improvisatory piece of music capably malleable to an artist's wishes.
Roney begins and ends this collection with composition from slightly before the Romantic Era (namely the High Baroque of J.S. Bach). Roney's approach is decidedly "post-modern," though not in the totally deconstructive way that Martial Solal is at his most effectively creative (save that he goes further than Solal on Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss"). Roney's Bach (Gershwin, DeBussy, Chopin, and Scriabin, for that matter) is a bit like Bill Evans meeting Franz Liszt at the crossroads to drink the tainted blood of Hugo Wolf.
Such is Roney's approach to the Gershwin preludes, as well as those of Chopin's included here. Sheer imagination and guts fuel the conception brought kinetic in these selections. Roney infuses his performances with the history of the piano not in any piecemeal manner, but all at once. This is not easy listening, but it is most rewarding. Roney makes Scriabin almost listenable (if not defining what is great in that enigmatic Russian's overly ambitious musical mind. Roney brings to this collection a creative mirth, if not sense of humor that proves that even the oldest music still has something to teach, offer, and prove.
Das wohltemperierte Klavier I: Prelude No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 847
Johann Sebastian Bach; Prelude No. 1, Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
George Gershwin; Prelude No. 2, Andante con moto e poco rubato
George Gershwin; Prelude No. 3, Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
George Gershwin; Préludes, Book 2, L. 123: No. 5, Bruyères Claude
Debussy; Préludes, Book 1, L. 117: Claude Debussy; Prelude to a
Kiss Duke Ellington; 24 Preludes, Op. 28: No. 2 in A Minor
Frédéric Chopin; No. 4 in E Minor Frédéric Chopin; 5 Preludes, Op.
16 No. 3 in G-Flat Major Alexander Scriabin; 7 Preludes, Op. 17:
No. 6 in B-Flat Major Alexander Scriabin; Das wohltemperierte
Klavier I: Prelude No. 6 in D Minor, BWV 851 Johann Sebastian Bach
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