Performers: Jacques Loussier, piano; Vincent Charbonnier, bass; André Arpino, percussion
Program: Fugue No. 5; Italian Concerto; Pastorale in C minor; Gavotte in B minor; Jesu, joy of man’s desiring; Gavotte in D; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D
Studio: Loft/Decca 074 3154 [Distr. by Universal]
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: DTS 5.1, PCM stereo
No region coding
Extras: Bonus CD of classic tracks from the original Play Bach Trio
Length: 83 minutes
Again, this turned out to be exactly the same concert I’ve had in my laserdisc library since 1991. So much for my interest when first seeing this DVD listing in the Universal Classics DVDs catalog and thinking “Oh, Loussier – is he still around? Would be interesting to hear what he’s doing now.” So it’s only what he was doing then, but it is better sound – although rechanneled surround – and a quite up-to-date screen image improved over the laserdisc. Plus I don’t have to flip the 12” disc over in the middle of the program.
Back when Loussier started his Play Bach Trio in 1959 he did mostly very short Bach Preludes and Fugues – that’s what’s on the bonus CD in this dual disc package – 11 of them from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I. I also have a Philips 45 rpm audiophile vinyl of some of these. His technique of jazzing up Bach seemed like fun but nothing that captivating to me at the time. I hadn’t sat down to watch the entire laserdisc since I originally got it.
Seeing the whole concert changed my impression of the French pianist and what may seem like his “gimmick.” Part of the new feeling about his work is his including longer Bach works in his program, such as the Italian Concerto and Brandenburg No. 5. His arrangements are interesting and clever, and often swing furiously. Bach’s music seems to be forgiving of every sort of of reformulation, but Loussier really has done something unique here. The Italian Concerto‘s three movement are quite a trip, but the final 12-minute movement of the Fifth Brandenburg gets fearlessly into some very hot keyboard chops. The integration of his bassist and drummer into the music is also a factor in producing a very attractive and exciting improvisational product. Definitely worth watching, and the CD is fun listening anywhere.
– John Sunier