Salon Concert Music for Violin and Piano
A Jewish Music Institute reception in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, as part of their Musical Dialogues of East and West day of events at the QE Hall and Purcell Room in November 2004, furnished the background of a chance meeting with composer Rohan Kriwaczek. The album under - much belated - review here, Rohan Kriwaczek and John Human's Salon Concert Music for Violin and Piano, was one of three of his CDs that Kriwaczek gave me on this occasion. They proved to be three very gripping albums. And three very different ones. The Wandering Jew has already been reviewed here.
Rohan Kriwaczek regularly performs in recitals with pianist John Human. The two artists share a great many musical interests, and this is clearly reflected in the superb empathy between them on this recording.
Salon Concert Music consists of seven Kriwaczek compositions for violin and piano, an Indian composition by Pandit Vishwa Prakesh arranged by Kriwaczek and Human, and a live improvisation as a bonus track.
What is perhaps most immediately striking about Rohan Kriwaczek and John Human's Salon Concert Music is its remarkable accessibility. It is a hugely pleasurable performance, and could indeed be salon concert music that might not seem too out of place anywhere from the late romantics to the early 20th century. But wait. There are sounds here that you would never have encountered in that style of music in those periods and that are very much of the 21st century. There are the distinct sounds of the Ashkenazi Jewish klezmer tradition, of the Middle East, and of the Indian classical tradition. And there is the occasional touch of the influence of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Kriwaczek melds all these diverse elements seamlessly, effortlessly, and perfectly naturally in his compositions, and so do Kriwaczek and Human as performers.
If you still have reservations about "East meeting West" in the context of classical music, then Rohan Kriwaczek and John Human's Salon Concert Music surely will convince you that these are unfounded and that it can indeed be successful. Of the numerous attempts there have been at making such a "fusion" work, this for me is the most truly successful one. The key to its success lies in the fact that this music does not "try" - it just "does". It does not try to be clever, it does not create artificial constructs out of preconceived "bright ideas". It is music that has arisen out of inspiration, that stays true to its inspiration. The result is exquisite and inspiring.
As, indeed, is Rohan Kriwaczek's performance on violin, and chalumeau on the improvisation, and John Human's on piano. The two performers are completely at one with one another and with their music.
Salon Concert Music beautifully lays bare the connections among Jewish and classical Middle Eastern and Indian music, and how these traditions can interact and meld with the western classical one. Indeed, this music could serve as an object lesson on the subject.
Delightful and delicious as well as inspiring, Rohan Kriwaczek and John Human's Salon Concert Music for Violin and Piano ought not to be missing from any serious collection of contemporary classical, or for that matter, world music, and surely no contemporary Jewish music collection could be complete without it.
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