Kind of Beethoven is the second Stereo and 5 Channel Surround Sound DSD release on the Just Listen label at NativeDSD by Jazz Pianist Xavi Torres.
As a pianist who is extremely well versed in two distinct musical vocabularies – Jazz and Classical – Xavi Torres explores new ways of bringing these worlds together in his very own interpretations of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. With deep respect for these key works of the classical repertoire, Torres honors the compositions while finding freedom within their structures.
In a subtle interplay with bass clarinet player Joris Roelofs and drummer Joan Terol, Torres explores patterns and textures within the pieces, avoiding the standard jazz approach and instead making us listen to the sonatas in a new way, lifting out passages and details, bringing his own perspective and authorship to the timeless compositions.
Xavi Torres – Piano
Joris Roelofs – Bass Clarinet
Joan Terol – Drums
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 00:59:12
|Analog to Digital Converter|
Horus, Merging Technologies at DSD 256
Van den Hul 3T – exclusive use
|Hi Res Mastering Engineer|
Tom Caulfield at NativeDSD Mastering Lab
Grimm LS1 in Mastering Room
Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
|Original Recording Format|
Custom Designed by Rens Heijnis
Jared Sacks, Jonas Sacks & Xavi Torres
Studio 150 in Bethlehemkerk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands on July 29 & 30, 2021
|Release Date||November 4, 2022|
The collaboration of the three (Xavi Torres, Joris Roelofs, and Joan Terol), now condensed on Kind of Beethoven , is breathtakingly beautiful and intriguing. Jazz lovers will immediately feel at home, for more classically inclined listeners this CD is a challenge to discover how the rhythmic and melodic patterns that often lie below the surface in Beethoven’s music have been brought to the surface in a new form by this trio.
The role of Joan Terol and Joris Roelofs is remarkable. Drummer Terol is of the powerful kind. He often evokes comparisons with the hurricanes that predecessors such as Elvin Jones, Milford Graves and Sunny Murray whipped out of their instruments. Terol holds nothing back and the surprising thing about this is that those explosions of violence are completely in place: they do not irritate, but reach for the new texture that the trio always envisions.
The headstrong Joris Roelofs shows a different side here: where almost every bass clarinetist mainly wants to exploit the depth of his instrument, Roelofs often looks for the highs here. As a result, his sounds are often reminiscent of those of violins, which are of course very useful in this music. Both weave new insights into Torres’ contributions, in which he is sometimes the predecessor in the original score, but is also not afraid to rush ‘grooving’ to new transitions.
Here is an atypical trio with Piano, Bass Clarinet and Drums, that tackles good old Ludwig.
The two Spaniards and the Dutchman take on his sonatas with an obvious pleasure in their playing. They are not the first to mix Jazz with Classical Music and will not be the last. However, their approach is original enough to be noted because it is in one word: sparkling.
The technique of each of the musicians is impeccable. One feels from the start that the pianist could play these sonatas in their original form with an undeniable talent as a concert performer. Joris Roelofs, for his part, approaches these works with a subtle contemporaneity that gives him the opportunity to make some welcome departures. Joan Terol, very present behind his drums, supports the trio with a constant keen perceptiveness.
Their exploration of the Beethovenian world, between genuine joy and appropriate restraint, results in a refreshing album that should convince you of the legitimacy of their approach.
In recent decades, surprising jazz albums have appeared on the market in which classical music has been adapted in an innovative way, such as Louis van Dijk’s Sketches on Bach from 1974, Peter Beets with his excellent CD Chopin Meets the Blues from 2010 or the CD Monteverdi in the Spirit of Jazz with performances by accordionist Galliano, the pianists Beirach and Lundgrun and the great bassist Lars Danielsson. On all of these albums, classical music forms the basis for a broad musical introspection, where everything is possible and allowed and in which the classical theme, both in melody and rhythm, is central, but topped with an inspired improvising metier.
Something similar happens on the album Kind of Beethoven by pianist Xavi Torres. As a young student he became acquainted with Beethoven’s piano sonatas and was touched by the inventiveness of these works. He studied classical piano in Barcelona and completed his master’s degree in jazz in Amsterdam. His fascination with Beethoven’s piano works has never faded. This even got a new impulse when he received a composition assignment from the L’Auditori in Barcelona to edit, (re)compose classical compositions into the jazz idiom. That’s what he did with pieces composed by Von Beethoven and has now resulted in the CD Kind of Beethoven. With respect for the work of this composer, theme, harmonizations and rhythm remain fundamentally the same. But the elaboration, the development and improvisations fly in all directions. Especially when you consider that the pieces are performed on piano, bass clarinet (Joris Roelofs) and drums (Joan Terol). An unusual line-up that makes it all even more surprising and exciting.
Beethoven composed about 32 piano sonatas. There are eight on Kind of Beethoven. Not complete, but different movements from eight different piano sonatas, including Waldstein, Pathetique, Appassionata and the beautiful and well-known Quasi una fantasia (Mondscheinsonate). The pieces have been arranged with care and attention by Torres in which, of course, the piano is central. After all, these are piano sonatas. The music makes a tight impression. He uses jazz chords and in his solos we hear frequent modal phrases and rich entanglements. Still, bass clarinet and drums get plenty of opportunity to excel and solo. The lyricism of Roelofs‘ bass clarinet fits wonderfully well with the theme (Pathétique, Part II) and we hear him in smooth solos, with a warm and full signature. Drummer Terol makes beautiful use of polyrhythms and swinging ghost notes, which makes his playing opulent. Van Beethoven’s compositions are musical stories with an epic character. Playing the original piano score is already quite a task, but then arranging it into such beautiful new pieces?, this sounds like a new dimension. A delight for both jazz and classical music lovers!
Performing Beethoven Piano Sonatas with piano, bass clarinet and drums? It generates many question marks, but pianist Xavi Torres, accompanied by Joris Roelofs (bass clarinet) and Joan Terol, offer answers.
After a concert hall performance in Barcelona, Xavi Torres received an offer to edit Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas and play them in a new way. Why Torres? Because he feels at home in both Classical Circles and Jazz Clubs. The fact that he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in the past helped, of course. Torres was up to the challenge and invited Joris Roelofs and Joan Terol to join in this adventure and to work out and fine-tune everything. These players are not extras but effective main characters next to Torres.
Torres describes his starting point: “What are the most fundamental elements of each work and how can we play around them while preserving the structure, the core idea and intention of the piece?” This method appears to be the right one. It also plays a role in which the question constantly arises: Is Torres the musician, composer, improviser or performer? This also creates a sophisticated exchange between the score enriched on the basis of improvised comments and his own ideas that (incidentally) make a link to the original score.
Beethoven’s dynamics and drama are mainly reflected in the juxtaposition between powerful drums and the more withdrawn playing of piano and bass clarinet. It can also be the other way around. Symbolism and references are retained but not in their original form. Rather, it reflects “echoes of”. Needless to say, several listens are needed to understand this approach.
The album will lead discussion between Jazz Cats and Classical Melody Fans. The fact is that after listening to ‘Kind Of Beethoven’ these works are placed in a totally different light. One that is a very enjoyable experience.
The Music Gazette
Kind of Beethoven is a reinterpretation of Beethoven Sonatas by pianist Xavi Torres, accompanied by Joris Roelofs on bass clarinet and Joan Terol on drums. A commission from a concert hall in Barcelona to the classically trained pianist is at the origin of the project.
Eight sonatas, including the Appasionata, and the Pathétique en deux moments, are rearranged, following the motif, or branching off on a rhythmic, harmonic or melodic detail. By letting the piano alone meditate, or the trio get carried away in the strangeness of the bass clarinet and drums towards improvised variations.
An exciting and passionate album.
Just Listen presents ‘Kind of Beethoven‘ by pianist Xavi Torres. A title that immediately highlights the theme of this production.
It is a fact that many experiments at the intersection of Jazz and Classical fail. The number of misses is considerably greater than the number of successful exercises. Torres, who has matured a bit over time, manages to escape this pitfall. While many of his colleagues allow themselves to be tempted by a kind of über kitsch, he gives Beethoven’s music a contemporary shine. He has managed to translate not only the beautiful melodies, but also the compelling rhythms into jazz.
Fellow musicians are the adventurous bass clarinetist Joris Roelofs and the resourceful drummer Joan Terol: an appropriate choice. Roelofs’s pregnant bass clarinet constantly leaves its mark on the improvisations. Joan Terol’s percussion has an almost brute force at the right moments.
While the jazzing up Classical Music often leads to a sort of stale frumpiness, this trio creates an unparalleled musical adventure full of unexpected paths and twists. Their vision of the ‘Waldstein Sonata’ sounds sultry and full of passion is their ‘Pathétique’. The ‘Appassionata’ is full of subcutaneous tension from the first second, something that also applies to the two edited parts from the ‘Quasi Una Fantasia’. Roelofs lets his bass clarinet sing and drummer Terol is a marvel of subtlety.
Few jazz musicians will have made such a thorough study of the oeuvre of the giant Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of Western culture. At first you might think of such an artistic initiative as violating a sanctuary, but Torres knows how to approach the essence of his music in depth and makes it more topical than ever with his fantastic ensemble. Beethoven is timeless and really indestructible, provided you have sufficient empathy and the right attitude.
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