Chick Corea & Friedrich Gulda – “The Meeting” (1982/2012)
Live video from Munich Piano Summer 1982
A LOFT Production
Director: Janos Darvas
Program: Gulda solos – Paraphrase on “Concerto for Ursula,” MOZART: Piano Sonata K 330, Dance, Play Piano Play No. 1, Aria, Prelude & Fugue, Paraphrase on “Die Reblaus”; Corea solos – Improv. on Monk’s ‘Round Midnight,’ Improv. II, III & IV; Corea & Gulda together – Some Day My Prince Will Come, Put Your Little Foot Right Out, PAUER: Poem No. 3, BRAHMS: Wiegenlied
Studio: ArtHaus Musik [3/26/12] (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: PCM stereo
No region code
Length: 150 minutes
While there’s been first an LP and then a Philips CD with some of these selections available for some time, this is the first time we are able to view the good-quality 1982 video. There is also a 30-minute video with a third piano and pianist (Nicolas Economou) listed at the ClassicalTV.com site, but not available to view at the moment, and a ten-minute excerpt which is viewable at YouTube. There obviously wasn’t space on this DVD, but would have been on a Blu-ray. (I would have frankly preferred more multiple pianos to so much solo material.)
Still, it’s fascinating to watch and hear both Gulda and the very young Chick Corea perform their mostly improvisations. Corea reported at the time that when he arrived in Munich Gulda wasn’t interested in seeing him or speaking to him beforehand—they just met on the stage and got down to playing. Gulda’s performance of the Mozart Sonata is delicious, making me want to hear others of the Sonatas from his fingers. His improvisations are quite European classical-influenced, as one would expect. Corea starts out with some quite atonal improvisations, and seems to have a ball doing them. Some reminded me of Keith Jarrett. Only later in his solo improvisations does he slip into the Spanish-influenced Corea bag we are more familiar with today. But he still sounds closer to the classical camp that many jazz pianists.
The pair of pianists are a kick and half. They are obviously working on a totally spontaneous basis, with no safety net. The give and take between them is something to see and hear. There are a few familiar themes, such as the two Miles Davis standard tunes, but these are just getting-your-bearing bits along the way of a series of abstract question-and-answer exchanges and some fairly atonal improvisations. Slipping into the Brahms Lullaby at the very end seems so very European; I guess they had worked at least that out in advance. The closeups of both pianists’ faces show much more expression than you would ordinarily see on a pianist in a concert video. They might not have spoken much before the concert but they certainly did communicate.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.