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CHARL DU PLESSIS TRIO

Baroqueswing Vol II

Charl Du Plessis - Piano
Werner Spies - Bass
Hugo Radyn - Drums

Claves 50 -1609

 

 

  1. I. Toccata (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 - J.S. Bach)

  2. II. Fugue (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 - J.S. Bach)

  3. Mélodie from Orphée and Eurydice (Gluck)

  4. Invention 8 in F Major BWV 779 (J.S. Bach)

  5. Invention 4 in D Minor BWV 775 (J.S. Bach)

  6. Invention 13 in A Minor BWV 784 (J.S. Bach)

  7. Ballet des ombres heureuses from Orphée and Eurydice (Gluck)

  8. I. Allegro (Le quatro stagioni, Concerto No. 1 in E Major RV 269 “La Primavera” - Vivaldi)

  9. II. Largo (Le quatro stagioni, Concerto No. 1 in E Major RV 269 “La Primavera” - Vivaldi)

  10. III. Allegro. Pastorale (Le quatro stagioni, Concerto No. 1 in E Major RV 269 “ La Primavera”)

  11. III. Sarabande. Grave (Suite in D minor, HWV 437 - Handel)

  12. I. Prelude (Prelude and Fugue No. 3 in C-Sharp Major BWV 848 - J.S. Bach)

  13. II. Fugue (Prelude and Fugue No. 3 in C-Sharp Major BWV 848 - J.S. Bach)

    New Jazz Suite (all J.S. Bach):

  14. I. Preludium - Cello Suite no. 1 BWV 1007

  15. II. Allemande - French Suite no. 5 BWV 816

  16. III. Aria - Goldberg Variations BWV 988

  17. IV. Sarabande - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring from Cantata BWV 147

  18. V. Chorale - Ich Rufe zu Dir Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639

  19. VI. Gigue - Partita no. 1 BWV 825

  20. I Got Rhythm (Gershwin)

     

    'Crossover music has (in my opinion) become the step-sister of jazz and world music alike and is met by some listeners with trepidation'. So says the South African pianist Charl Du Plessis in the notes which accompany this handsomely produced album. Du Plessis sees it as his mission to show that crossover has the potential to delight both the classical music and jazz constituencies. His trio, composed of Du Plessis and two fellow South Africans, bassist Werner Spies and drummer Hugo Radyn, was formed in 2006. They have recorded four previous albums together, straddling genres in the process, and have toured successfully in Europe and Asia as well as in South Africa. This particular disc is a successor to Baroqueswing, released in 2013, and was recorded before a live audience in the ornate splendour of the Kirche St.George in Ernen, Switzerland, as part of a week of Baroque music.

    Of course, anyone who ventures into this area of music, and especially playing Bach, invites comparison with Jacques Loussier. Sure enough there are resemblances, as, for instance, in the trio's rendition of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor or Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and, in particular, the standout Allegro Pastorale from Vivaldi's “ La Primavera” (Spring) in The Four Seasons. Elsewhere, on occasions, the music is played pretty near straight,Mélodie from Orphé e and Eurydice being a case in point, albeit beautifully performed. I wasn't particularly taken with the rather too cute attempt at the Allegro from “La Primavera”, although the following Largo is appropriately measured with evocative bass playing from Spies. Set against any reservations I might have from the perspective of a jazz lover, however, are some superb (and swinging) efforts. Bach's Invention 4 in D Minor is a jazz-inflected piece which manages, in the hands of Du Plessis, to be ruminative and pensive. The resonant bass of Werner Spies and the sensitive drumming of Hugo Radyn provide invaluable support. By way of contrast, Gluck'sBallet des ombres heureuses from Orphé e and Eurydice sounds as if it was written for a jazz trio, effortlessly swinging and dynamic with each musician creatively interacting.

    Much of what Du Plessis has christened the New Jazz Suite is thoroughly engaging, too. He has taken five pieces by Bach and seeks to bring to each a distinctive approach. All have their merits but Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is given an especially relaxed and expansive treatment. I liked, also, the way Gigue - Partita no. 1 positively rocks along. There are shades of the great Art Tatum's refinement of stride piano apparent at times. Curiously, the one track where we might have expected a rip-roaring jazz performance was the concluding one of this live concert, namely Gershwin's I Got Rhythm. Certainly, drummer Hugo Radyn lives up to the song title but overall I thought it quite conventional, in view of the imagination demonstrated elsewhere. Having said that, the audience were clearly rapturous, though we can't be sure whether that was because of all that had gone before or a response to the closing item itself.

    It is possible that albums like this may fall between two stools, failing to satisfy the purists in the realms of either jazz or classicial music. For myself, I went with the flow, admiring the high standards of musicianship on offer and concluding that others, too, whatever their musical preference, will be won over to the joys of crossover.

    James Poore


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