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10 Easy Pieces for Piano
Leszek Mozdzer
EMI Classics CDC5 56971 2 7 [53:33]

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With his second album of music not written for the cinema, Zbigniew Preisner goes to the opposite extreme of his Requiem for my Friend, his full-scale requiem written in memory of the film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. This time Preisner utilises just a single instrument and keeps even the longest selection on the album down to just over eight minutes. Indeed, all ten pieces total 53:33.

This is a thoughtfully designed package, the simple beach artwork running through the cover and booklet, the ten footprints in the sand a modestly understated joke on the nature of the music itself. Like footprints, or art drawn on the shoreline, there is both a transient beauty and a lightweight disposability about these 10 Easy Pieces for Piano. Preisner being primarily a film composer, we should not forget possible associations with the Jack Nicholson movie, Five Easy Pieces (1970) (music by Bach, Chopin and Mozart), nor with Picasso Summer (1969), the film adapted from a Ray Bradbury story - Bradbury himself co-wrote the screenplay as Douglas Spaulding) - and which features a memorable jazz-piano score by Michel Legrand and a considerable amount of time spent on the beach. And whilst playing the influence game one can trace back to the previous year and to the Legrand scored The Thomas Crown Affair - and the line (lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman) in Windmills of Your Mind 'Lovers walk along a shore and leave their footprints in the sand…'

In the well appointed booklet Preisner himself notes the considerable influence Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert double jazz set (ECM 1975) has upon him, and indeed, the Jarrett influence is clear. Tracks such as 'To See More' sounding on a casual listen as if they come straight off the Köln set, though the new recording has far better production values and we do not have to endure Mozdzner groaning as we do Jarrett. Mozdner is actually the ideal performer for this music. He has worked on Preisner's film scores since Damage (1992), as well as recording numerous jazz albums: a set of Chopin Impressions fuse 19th Century tradition with 20th century jazz flavourings (and feature a similarly sandy coloured cover as 10 Easy Pieces.) He has a light touch, great fluency and brings an atmospheric romance to pieces which are often as much mood as substance.

Following the death of Krzysztof Kieslowski the question Preisner asks is "whether those of us who are left have… enough strength to say, 'Now it is our time. Now look at us.' Do we have enough talent…" Well, the music is melodically attractive and will doubtless find favour as dinner-party music, making regular appearances on Classic FM. There is nothing here to win the more sober end of the classical market, and there is certainly not the substance or lasting impact of the Requiem or the best of the film scores, such as The Double Life of Veronique, and Three Colours Blue . That said, it is an atmospheric, innocent, open-hearted collection which should find a welcome in the collections of fans of light piano music, jazz piano and Preisner's film music.



Gary S. Dalkin




Gary S. Dalkin

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