The main theater in the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose lends itself beautifully to classical music and acoustic jazz. And both have been performed there to great acclaim – but not together.
This time out, however, the twist was to team up one of the world’s great European chamber quartets with two of the finest American jazz soloists for a performance that could be either a feast for the ears or a total train wreck.
Last Wednesday evening, the Leipzig String Quartet sat waiting to start on one side of the stage while pianist Pete Malinverni and alto saxophonist Steve Wilson were ready to go on the other.
The plan was simple:
Take Franz Joesph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” with its beginning overture followed by seven sonatas ending in “The Terremoto (The Earthquake),” add Malinverni’s contemporary jazz improvisations based on the Haydn passage and then fuse together both the classical notes to the jazz improvisation for a grand finale on the last composition of the evening.
From the get-go the Leipzig String Quartet and the two jazzmen seamlessly passed the musical baton between them, one composition after another. Passionate and articulate ensemble work by violinists Stefan Arzberger and Tilman Buning, violist Ivo Bauer and cellist Matthias Moosdorf flowed into the rich and delicate Ellington-esque piano ‘n’ sax passages created by Malinverni and Wilson.
Concluding the evening’s program, all six musicians brilliantly intertwined their instrumental voices to create an explosive sonic marriage of classical and jazz that brought the audience to its feet, filling the room with thunderous applause. The performance was a splendid success with all six musicians wearing ear-to-ear grins as they took their bows.
Kudos go out to the Massry Center for presenting this off-the-beaten-track concert treat.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Joseph Dalton’s review @ The Times Union
Excerpt from Geraldine Freedman’s review @ The Daily Gazette: “When the jazz musicians began to play, at least at first, the contrast in styles and volume was so extreme it was almost shocking. By the next few interludes that impression ebbed away. Malinverni cleverly used material from what the quartet played and what the quartet was going to play in each of his three sections. Wilson, a stellar improvisor, weaved his sinuous lines with inventive ease. Some of the interludes had spiky motifs with cross rhythms, as the opening ‘Aceto,’ while others began as a ballad and evolved into a more upbeat, head nodding tune, such as ‘A Beautiful Thing.’”