Classical versus Jazz. The former relies more on technique and adherence to the written note. It's an artistic expression that is more about the composer. Jazz is more about the performing artist, more about improvisation and seat-of-the pants creation.
Russian-born and now Hamburg-based pianist Leon Gurvitch leans hard in the classical direction. But the jazz element is there, along with world music influences and Eastern European folkloric themes on his first solo piano outing, Remember Me.
Some of the tunes on the set are overtly in the classical vein: Erik Satie's "Gnossienne Nr. 1" and "Prelude (after Frederic Chopin)." Gurvitch adds the sweetening of overdubbed melodic on both of these tunes to add the folklorish tint. His original "Russian Suite" opens with a stately interlude that segues into a lively romp of a joyous and beautiful exploration of the pianist's Russian soul, a push and pull between expressive abandonment and refinement of execution, with the contest coming out a draw.
Gurvitch's jazz soul shines on his two improvisation pieces. "Improvisation #1" is an, energized, spontaneous composition as wild and full of fire as free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor's works. "Improvisation #2" prowls down darker byways, with a more measured, deeper toned, ruminative execution. "Megopolis" surges full speed ahead, a frantic tempo held in complete control by the pianist until a percussive cataclysm erupts.
Leon Gurvitch's marriage of modern classical and improvised music on Remember Me is a bracing but always edifying listening experience from an artist unafraid of pushing the boundaries.
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