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Jazz Meets Classic: A Musical Firework

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Last Thursday evening, the concert series "Jazz meets Classic," organized by the Jazz Club, found another highlight with the renowned pianists Dave Ruosch, Maurice Imhof, and Chris Conz. It thrilled the audience to standing ovations at the sold-out Landenberghaus.

What do Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Strauss, Aram Khachaturian, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johann Strauss have in common? Clearly, they all created masterpieces of music. However, they can also be wonderfully combined and reinterpreted with jazz. This was impressively demonstrated last Thursday evening at Landenberghaus.

Indeed, no composition from the last three centuries seems safe from the ideas and the joy of playing of the three pianists Chris Conz, Maurice Imhof, and Dave Ruosch. Chris Conz, the internationally known Boogie-Woogie, Blues, and Jazz pianist from Uster, opened the concert evening at one of the two grand pianos with "Vipers Drag" by Fats Waller. With his dynamic playing and humorous announcements, he brought the audience to life. Drummer Martin Meyer, one of the most sought-after Swiss drummers, provided the necessary groove and appropriate accents.

19th Century Jazz

Next, Maurice Imhof took the stage, impressing with his technical brilliance and harmonic sensitivity. The two pianists played "Bei mir bist du schön" with four hands and then alternated at the two grand pianos, showing their individual styles and influences.

Dave Ruosch, regarded as one of the best Blues, Stride, and Boogie pianists in Switzerland, completed the piano trio and received considerable applause for his interpretation of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C minor. Even a romantic opera aria from the 19th century ("Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" by Camille Saint-Saëns) becomes Boogie-Woogie in the hands of Dave Ruosch, who masterfully blends music styles from different epochs in his arrangements.

Subsequently, the musicians took the audience on a journey through various musical styles and epochs, combining them with the short, constantly repeating riffs typical of the blues, rolling basses of the left hand, and off-beat figures of the right hand, interspersed with trills and tremolos. The musicians challenged each other, displaying not only captivating virtuosity but also exhilarating joy in playing, completely enchanting the audience.

Climactic Highlight with Six Hands

One of the highlights of the concert was the joint performance of Richard Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", whose famous crescendo has already been used repeatedly in films, starting from the nature motif. The three pianists and the drummer played the piece with great passion and energy, creating a unique version that expressed both the originality of the composer and their own personality. With six hands on two pianos, the concert reached its climactic highlight, and the audience showed its gratitude with spontaneous applause and standing ovations.

Two encores were finally a must. In the final "Roll over Beethoven", drummer Martin Meyer showed his special class once again in a solo performance.

The concert was a complete success and an unforgettable experience for all involved. The four musicians impressively proved that jazz and classical music are not opposites but can complement each other perfectly. They created a musical firework that will be remembered for a long time.

The next "Jazz-am-See" concert is already scheduled for October 26: The Basel combo "Little Chevy" will perform at Landenberghaus.

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