New Releases

Loussier Trio's Schumann


French pianist and composer Jacques Loussier, who turns 77 in October, formed his first trio to perform jazz improvisations on classical themes in 1959. His lightness of spirit, combined with a palpable love and understanding of the great music he's tinkering with, makes for improvs so warm, genial, and joyful as to elevate them to a class all their own. In a trio that also includes bassist Benoît Dunoyer de Segonzac and percussionist André Arpino, Loussier has just released Schumann: Kinderszenen (Scenes From Childhood).

A jazz take on Robert Schumann's delightful set of 13 piano pieces, which were composed when Schumann was 28 and on a creative roll, the Jacques Loussier Trio's Kinderszenen totally captures the youthful optimism and occasional wistfulness of Schumann's originals.

Loussier's solo take on "Träumerei," the most famous of Schumann's 13 scenes, is outstanding. Played with the same care and organic sense of rubato (temporary disregard of strict tempo) that Vladimir Horowitz brought to the work, this new "Träumerei" sounds as fresh and unadorned as it must have to Schumann's admirers at the time the original was written.

The contrast between Loussier's restraint and the exuberant percussion heard on several tracks makes for welcome variety. This is a lovely, lovely recording.