Adam Kostecki

Jacques Loussier: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Paderewski: Violin Sonata

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The two composers represented on this Naxos release seem an odd pairing, and indeed the works by Jacques Loussier and Ignacy Jan Paderewski were recorded several years apart, in different places. Sonically the whole seems a bit patched together, but actually the jazz rhythms of Loussier and the Eastern European dances of Paderewski fit together pretty well. The prime attraction here is the pair of concertos by the Frenchman Loussier, best known for a series of jazz-classical crossover albums that began appearing in the late 1950s. Several of those featured jazz performances of music by Bach, coming at the jazz-classical boundary from the side opposite to that of the Modern Jazz Quartet. It couldn't be called emotionally weighty, but it was inventive and avoided repeating itself. What listeners think of the Concerto No. 1 for violin and percussion here probably depends on their reaction to those old albums; although the musical material is original, it is cut from the same cloth, with a very pleasant slow movement. The real news here is the Concerto No. 2 for violin and tabla (both of the concertos also feature a small string orchestra), composed in 2006 in Loussier's old age. This work, with violin improvisations balancing an extremely active tabla part (beyond the sound of the instrument, Indian influences are sparse), is positively joyous, and it would be an ideal component for programs featuring some kind of multicultural aspect. Violinist and conductor Adam Kostecki, leading the Polish Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, are competent in Loussier's jazz-based idiom, and percussionist Piotr Iwicki is a delight. The second concerto is worth the purchase price even beyond Loussier's circle of fans.

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