CHICK COREA: Children’s Songs Nos. 1 – 20 (Arr. by Thomas Schindl) – Blue Chamber Quartet – Stockfisch 5.0 multichannel SACD SFR 357.4067.2, 43:26 *****:
(Members: Julia Bartha, piano/Angelika Siman, concert harp/Thomas Schindl, vibes/Holger Michalski, doublebass/ Sven von Samson, guest percussionist)
Many composers have penned simple piano pieces either for talented children to play or for adults to perform but aspects of childhood. Chick Corea’s Children Songs stand very well among such works from the usual classic composers. They were published in 1984 and were among the very first releases on the ECM jazz label, and also have been reissued several times. Corea wanted to express the beauty of children’s minds in his 20 musical miniatures, and he commented later that it was for everybody to receive these little works of art, try them and appreciate them.
That’s exactly what the members of the German chamber group known as The Blue Chamber Quartet did, and this delightful album is the result. In addition to arranging them for their quartet plus a guest percussionist, they thought to have a Munich journalist, Cathrin Kahlweit, create 20 short texts for each of the 20 songs – each one focusing on a child in a different country, variously facing happiness, hopes, worries and fears. Many of them are extremely touching, especially if read while listening. (In English, by the way.) Another interesting ploy would be if you have two disc players to pair each of Corea’s piano originals with the Blue Chamber Quartet’s versions of each.
The arrangements are subtle and tasteful in expanding the simple but lovely melodies of each of the songs into quartet or quintet form. This is a successful marriage of classical chamber music and jazz genres that the Europeans are better at carrying out then most American performers. The surround sonics are right up to Stockfisch’s usual very high standards. Their slogan is “closer to the music,” and that’s the impression one gets listening to the multichannel version of this fine release.
– John Sunier