Friday, February 15, 2013

Lena Ledoff – Komeda Chopin Komeda (2011)

Lena Ledoff - piano

MTJ 10956








By Adam Baruch

This is a stunning album by pianist Lena Ledoff, who was born in Russia and lives in Poland since the mid 1990s. She combines the music by two Polish iconic composers, Frederic Chopin and Krzysztof Komeda, creating an amalgam by playing their compositions intertwined into unique medleys on solo piano.

Born 121 years apart (Chopin 1810, Komeda 1931), the former a virtuoso pianist and composer of Classical music and the latter a virtuoso pianist and composer of Jazz music, these two geniuses might have nothing in common to a naked eye. And yet they share so much, even the fact that both of them died tragically at a ridiculous young age before they reached 40. But of course what unites them is their passion for music and their common roots in the heritage of Polish music, its melancholy, lyricism and intrinsic sadness.

Chopin's music has been performed by many Polish Jazz musicians since many years. One might even say that it has been abused to a certain extent, as some of these Jazz interpretations were completely senseless and in the worst cases simply ridiculous. Ledoff's idea to combine the music of these two composers rather than transform Chopin's music into something Komeda might have written is exactly the right thing to. Her intellectual and artistic integrity remains intact, as her treatment of both composers is deeply respectful and her courage to look for the common ground between them is simply inspiring.

For people, who are familiar with the music by both composers these mixed medleys are simply orgasmic. Ledoff keeps switching between the respective composition, playing a few phrases form Chopin and moving to Komeda's enchanted melodies and so back and forth. The listener is unable to predict (at least initially) what her next move will be and therefore this emotional seesaw between expectations and familiarity is absolutely brilliant.

This is definitely one of the most ambitious, ingenious and satisfying recordings of the last few years. Original, daring and brilliantly executed, the music is simply overwhelming from start to finish. Ledoff deserves out thanks for enabling us to discover with her the infinite connections between Chopin and Komeda. I, for one, am eternally grateful.

This album is an absolute must for every connoisseur of Classical-Jazz Fusion, those who love Chopin and dare to hear him in a new setting and those who love Komeda and are intrigued to discover, where he comes from – in short all lovers of Polish music at its best. A wonderful gem, a Godsend!

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