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On Different Planes: Conversations between Classical and Jazz Piano
Posted 12/04/2017 03:02PM

Coordinated by Simone Aeschliman, the TASIS Cultural Events Program provides valuable cultural opportunities both on and off campus that are geared toward aspiring student artists. Art History and Architecture & Design Master Teacher Mark Aeschliman reflects upon the most recent event, a concert performed by jazz pianist Enrico Intra and classical pianist Carlo Balzaretti for students in the Class of 2019.

Concert Piano

By Mark J. Aeschliman

The junior class was lucky to experience a truly wonderful concert last Thursday evening, featuring Carlo Balzaretti and Enrico Intra: both accomplished Italian pianists at the peak of their powers, playing carefully selected classical pieces (Balzaretti), followed by heartfelt interpretations of these same pieces by the acknowledged "old man" (he's 82!) of classical jazz (Intra). Listening to the concert, I was entranced by the symbiosis between the two musicians, who know each other well and have played together for years. I was also (for once!) completely at ease about my fellow audience members: the junior class. Maybe it's because this is their third serious music concert since they began their cultural events cycle in the 9th grade. Maybe it helped that Intra's Jazz interpretations were cool and unexpected. It was a vital part of the vibe that the improvisation would be spontaneous and unrehearsed. One of the last of these featured drumming, syncopated knocking and clicking of the flat of the hand, the fist, and knuckles on the metallic chords inside the Steinway piano's raised cover.

How did they manage to play 40 minutes of flawless music without a score in front of them?

How does the interpreter envision the landscape of sound he then spontaneously presents to the listener?

How does the strange alchemy of 80 people's togetherness and concentration coalesce to produce the harmony and beauty of such sound?

These are questions I'm asking myself after this masterful concert.

Concert Program

J.S. Bach: Sarabande from French Suite no. 5 in G major
W.A. Mozart: Allegro from Sonata K. 545 in C major
F. Chopin: Danza Española no. 5 "Andaluza"
A. Scriabin: Étude op. 2 no. 1 in C-sharp minor
G. Gershwin: "The Man I Love" from Gershwin's Songbook

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