Friday, March 27, 2009

Uri Caine @ Teatro Verdi

Thursday evening, we went to see a concert by Uri Caine and the Orchestra Regionale Toscana at the Teatro Verdi, an old theater near Santa Croce. We got to sit in a box. :-)
For those of you who don't know him, Uri Caine is an innovative jazz musician, who has made a name for himself by combining jazz harmonies and improvisation techniques with classical music. Probably his most successful endeavour in this direction was Urlicht, a collection of music by Gustav Mahler, which was followed by the ambitious Goldberg Variations, taking Bach's variation collection and adding variations such as the "Dig It Variation," the "Luther's Nightmare Variation," or the "Tango Variation." In the concert on Thursday, in addition to two solo improvisations on Mozart's Sonata in C as well as themes by Mahler, he presented Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. In contrast to the Goldberg Variations, with its vast variety of ensembles and musical styles, this was pretty straightforward in that the orchestra usually played an arrangement of Beethoven's original music, while Caine improvised or added some jazzy touches on top of them. Most of the time, this worked quite well, especially in the slower variations, while the faster pieces lacked some of the drive that a solo piano can have.

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