Intakt

When Irène Schweizer sits alone at the keyboard in Zurich’s Tonhalle in April 2011, two months before her 70th birthday, the magic in the air materializes fast. Broad-shouldered fairy tales are narrated with the impassioned grace of someone intimately acquainted with the instrument, acting as the causal factor of sound’s chemical reaction with the surrounding air molecules. Tackling a programme including affectionate homages (of which Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino” and Thelonious Monk’s “Four In One” are both outstanding), the pianist questions the very meaning of the term “interpretation”, turning known quantities into utterly individual expression, a combination of concrete philosophy and extrasensory intuition – imbued with harmonic permissiveness – lying at the basis of convincing execution. And then there’s the veritable spiritual restitution of Schweizer’s own material: “Hüben Ohne Drüben”, chimerical and exact at one and the same time, “Jungle Beat III”, a sabotage of jazz triviality mixing wit and technical skill, and the masterpiece “Bleu Foncé”, an archetype of invigorating pulse and earnest polyphony that should be used as a tutorial in music schools. The older she gets, the better she plays.

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