My entry into the world of Keith Jarrett's solo concerts was perhaps his most famous recording, the "Koln Concert". Great though that is, I was soon left hungry for more. Fortunately Jarrett is, or was before he succumbed to ME, a prodigous performer. Improbable though it may seem, this concert recorded some twenty years after Koln is at least its equal. Forget the rendition of "Over the Rainbow" - touching though it is. The 18th to 24th minutes of the second composition are quite possibly the most gorgeous intoxicating and emotional moments I have ever heard in music. Jarrett's liner notes might appear arrogant (retelling how the former conductor's assistant at La Scala explained, via a translator, to Jarrett and his wife that it was the strongest most musical experience he had ever had). In truth they pay testament to the fact that music of such beauty, fragility and intensity defies classification or analysis of technique. Jarrett's impact on contemporary music is considerable and many pianists, including Esbjorn Svensson, are labelled as Jarrett's heir apparent. On the strength of the Swede's recent concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, he is a pianist of rare skil and humour. However, nothing I heard came close to striking the chord of the finale to "la Scala, Part II". In the ECM spirit of collaboration (Producer Manfred Eicher takes a delight in throwing musicians of different cultures and musical backgrounds into a melting pot) Jarrett has recorded many hours of standards with his trio. La Scala is a reminder that, occasionally, less is more and all the words in the world are not enough to describe true beauty.
My 11 year old son and I listened to this one snowy afternoon when he was home with a cold. It created a magical afternoon -- "Over the Rainbow" had us both trickling tears of beauty. I've long loved Jarrett, and my son is a dedicated junior jazz pianist composing his own music; and both us feel, for many reasons -- that truly this album is a wonder. You won't be disappointed.
La Scala is an essential recording. The music in the first, lengthy section, enters some extremely dark and disturbing places. It's almost as if some kind of violent, primitive exorcism is taking place - Jarrett seems engaged in a titanic struggle with overwhelming inner forces. The overall effect is of an intense and terrible mysticism - it felt somehow blasphemous to even listen to this. But the best is yet to come, in the midst of part 2. Heartbreakingly beautiful. No negatives to speak of really. The liner notes are fairly off-putting - Jarrett is not one for modesty. But, to invert a phrase of Winston Churchill's, he doesn't really have much to be modest about. In my opinion the greatest of Jarrett's solo piano performances, and one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded.
I heard Over the Rainbow on the radio in the car first, and I was so touched by it that I went out and bought it the very next day. His interpretation of the piece is so completely mesmerising that it seems like every note is perfect. He knows exactly how to give a beautifully measured performance - just the right amount of dynamics and rubato to make it reach the soul. (I don't normally use such drastic methods of description about music, but this is an exception) Although I bought the album for Over the Rainbow, the rest of the album is also heavenly, but that has been already discussed.
I am always left emotionally drained when I listen to this recording. I agree with one of the reviewers above that the 13 mins to 24 mins of Part 2 are is some of musics most beautiful and emotional moments. It is almost as if at that point of the concert he reaches nirvana and shares it with you. Breathtaking.
Keith Jarrett brings all of his skill, technique and musical spirit to bear in this brilliant gathering of solo piano improvisations. This is THE recording to play late at night when the rain is pouring down and you are alone or with a loved one and you want the musical atmosphere to warm and inspire you.
Each of Keith Jarrett's performances demands respect but, for me, this is the solo concert which surpasses the rest. Part 1 is a jaw-dropping piece of improvisation which culminates in one of the most moving, stirring and transcendant sequences you are likely to hear; the long, intricate journey resolves into a sublime resolution of the musical ideas. This intensity is sustained in the second track where the ideas and sheer pianism can knock you back, before lifting and transporting you to an intense plane before...well, you need to listen to it. As you might gather, I rather like this cd.