Monday, February 20, 2012

Jacques Loussier Trio - Handel

It wasn’t long ago that I was listening to the Loussier Trio perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on my updated hi-fi, and was amazed at the lower extension of the bass. Loussier plays piano, and uses one of two bass players, and seems to always pair with drummer André Arpino. Having since lost the recording’s original CD, and only having a 160Kbit rip in MP3 format, I re-purchased the album along with a few others. First up for review is their 2002 recording of Handel, specifically, music from the Fireworks and Water Music suites, plus a Passacaglia that lasts some 5 minutes. What’s fun about the Loussier recordings is knowing this music inside-out, upside-down. It’s the tickle of fancy of recognizing old favorites in new clothing. I think Handel’s music is less successful in this clothing than that of Vivaldi or Bach. Of course, there are some successful tracks amid some “good tries.” The concluding “Trio” from the Water Music suite is energetic, if not virtuosic. Some areas where the music is “quoted” verbatim bother me… of course, you have to referenc the original, but there are other ways to weave these melodies into something… I think this music, whether it be Handel, Bach, or someone else, is so rich that you could make many CDs off the same source material, if you were so talented. Loussier has a particular talent… he’s good at capturing spirit. The direct quoting I find less successful. The last movement of the Fireworks music, with over a minute of drum fodder, then a direct quotation… I found less than enjoyable. Nice try, wrong approach, I think. So yes, there is some to love, some to hate on this release. Then we get the final track. A sparse 5 minutes, but so richly wrought-out, it is the jewel on the disc. It’s less about direct quotation, and more about getting to the essence of a work. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but this is about high-life, with all the cheese we might associate with a successful man sitting in his easy chair after work, enjoying a fine scotch. This is that soundtrack… but when you brush the cheese aside, it’s music that simply makes you smile. Any CD that forces a smile on your face is a good one, despite its warts. Only if we could plays these for Dr. Handel. - from

Artist: Jacques Loussier Trio
Album: Handel - Water Music & Royal Fireworks
Year: 2002
Label: Telarc Jazz
Runtime: 54:49

1.  Grave 1:37 
2.  Allegro I 2:48 
3.  Adagio 5:12 
4.  Allegro II 5:03 
5.  Andante 4:33 
6.  Bourree 1:47 
7.  Alla Danza 4:16 
8.  Aria 4:50 
9.  Trio 4:36 
10.  Grave 3:19 
11.  Allegro I 4:22 
12.  Siciliana 4:48 
13.  Allegro II 2:28 
14.  Passacaglia 5:03 

Jacques Loussier (Piano)
Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac (Double Bass)
André Arpino (Drums)

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