Michael Gees

Bach - Mendelssohn - Metamorphosis

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917275124
Catnr: CC 72751
Release date: 08 September 2017
1 CD
✓ in stock
€ 19.95
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72751
Release date
08 September 2017

"The improvisations brought in by Gees seem partly like variations, so that they fit in well with the given work."

Piano News Magazine, 01-2-2018

About the album

Michael Gees: How can a musical idea develop over and above what has been written down? What would Bach have thought about Mendelssohn? What would have happened had they been able to encourage each other to extemporise on their compositions?
It is considerations such as these that lead me to explore the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy by way of adaptational improvisations. In this context, I want to mention the term historical performance practice. Once upon a time – long before the invention of jazz – it was desired of, and common for, performers to treat the prescribed material creatively, improvising on the works in front of them, not only playing them, but also playing with them.

Improvisaties over Bach en Mendelssohn
Wat zou Bach van Mendelssohn gevonden hebben? En wat zou er gebeuren als ze over elkaars composities zouden kunnen improviseren? Lang geleden was het gebruikelijk dat musici op een creatieve manier met de bladmuziek omgingen en op improviseren en variëren; niet alleen de muziek spelen, maar er zelf mee spelen. De vermaarde pianist Michael Gees past dit idee toe op de muziek van Johann Sebastian Bach en Felix Mendelssohn door middel van adaptieve improvisatie, zonder af te doen aan de oorspronkelijke muziek.

Michael Gees: „Wie kann sich eine musikalische Idee über schriftlich Festgehaltenes und darüber hinaus entwickeln? Was hätte Bach wohl von Mendelssohn gehalten? Was wäre wohl geschehen, wenn die beiden die Gelegenheit gehabt hätten, über die Kompositionen des anderen zu improvisieren?

Es sind diese Gedanken, die mich dazu inspirieren, die Musik von Johann Sebastian Bach und Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Improvisationen zu erkunden. In diesem Kontext möchte ich auch den Begriff der historisch informierten Aufführungspraxis erwähnen. Vor langer Zeit – lange vor der Erfindung des Jazz – wurde es von Musikern gewünscht und erwartet, das niedergeschriebene musikalische Material kreativ zu behandeln und über die Werke, die sie vor sich hatten, zu improvisieren, sie nicht nur zu spielen, sondern auch mit ihnen zu spielen.“


“Throughout the entire evening, Gees played as though he were the creator of the compositions, making sure that everything would come together as he had envisaged it. His eyes were not just those of a reproducing artist, but the flaring ones of one who is on fire, as we imagine a creative composer.”
N. Campogrande

Aged three, the piano is his favourite toy; from the age of five he receives formal lessons; aged eight, he wins the Steinway Competition as well as a scholarship enabling him to study at the Salzburg Mozarteum.

Hailed as the “Westphalian Mozart”, he trains at the Vienna and Detmold conservatoires and it seems as though nothing can stand in the way of a career as a pianist. The talented child, however, doesn’t want to be limited to technical exercises but instead longs to explore the world of sounds on his own terms, rediscovering it again and again, note by note.

At the age of fifteen, the “prodigy” flees the pressures of his predestined career, leaving behind his school, conservatoire and home, earning a living through odd jobs, as an archaeological assistant, and also by going to sea for two years.

In 1974, he is unexpectedly offered a place to study at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover. He develops his pianistic talent individually, composes and gains international renown as a first-class lieder accompanist, performing across the globe.

Through his playing he revives the long-forgotten tradition of using the work as an opportunity for extemporisation.

He goes on to found the Consol Theater which opens in 2001: here, children, teenagers and adults are encouraged and inspired to discover and realise their own creative impulses.

His own Forum Kunstvereint, alongside CPO and EMI, have issued numerous CDs with Michael Gees. As of 2007, he is associated with Challenge Classics: the recording of Die schöne Müllerin with Christoph Prégardien wins the 2009 MIDEM Classical Award and also Recording of the Year. Releases since then, including song recitals with Julia Kleiter, Anna Lucia Richter and Julian Prégardien, as well as solo recordings ImproviSatie, Beyond Schumann and Bach – Mendelssohn – Adaptations increasingly show Michael Gees in his element, treating the scores creatively.

Michael Gees programmes solo and song recitals between tradition and new ground. He has been teaching Vocal Improvisation and Song Invention at the Cologne Musikhochschule since 2009.


The improvisations brought in by Gees seem partly like variations, so that they fit in well with the given work.
Piano News Magazine, 01-2-2018

Gees, for whom free improvisation has obviously been a matter of the heart since his Wunderkind years, does all this in style, with great artistry and sensitive fantasy.
Fono Forum, 15-12-2017

Classical music as a jam session. What binds Bach and Mendelssohn even more, is above all the creativity and ingenuity of Gees himself. The effect is a beautiful and rich whole, and more than a series of beautifully played pieces.
Luister, 01-12-2017

Good music can't be placed in boxes, but deserves to be approached with imagination. And that's what Gees does with great dedication on this CD.
Kerk & Leven, 14-11-2017

Improvisations about Bach and Mendelssohn
Klassieke Zaken, 29-9-2017

He considers music as living matter, which takes on new forms at every concert.
De Standaard, 27-9-2017

Play album

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