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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
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.“
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period.
Mendelssohn is often compared to Mozart. Both of them were child prodigies, both had a talented sister and they both died at a young age. Mendelssohn, who as a child also painted wrote poetry, was born in small family which converted to christianity from judaism. As a composer he preferred looking back, rather than forward: his main examples were Bach, Handel and Mozart. It was Mendelssohn who retrieved Bach from oblivion and pushed for a revival of his music, which still lasts today. One century after its premier, Mendelsson performed the St Matthew Passion for the second time ever, in 1829.
Three years, earlier, on his 17th, he had already composed his masterfully overture A midsummer night's dream op. 21, based on Shakespeare's play. Today, it is still considered as one of the absolute masterpieces in all of the orchestra reperoire. His Violin Concerto op. 64 belongs to the most beautiful works of the 19th century as well. During his travels through Europe, he wrote his brilliant Italian Symphony, Scottish Symphony and the overture The Hebrides.
Although Mendelssohn had a prosperous career, his weak physique made him emotionally vulnerable. The death of his favourite sister Fanny became fatal: Mendelssohn died in the same year, at the age of 38.
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.
Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.
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.
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