Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: Classicism - A Point of View
Michael Arbenz
Cover image of the album Classicism - A Point of View by Michael Arbenz
Classicism - A Point of View
Michael Arbenz
2024 / Michael Arbenz
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Classicism - A Point of View is the second solo album from Swiss pianist/composer/arranger Michael Arbenz and is a collection of seven jazz tracks inspired by various classical pieces. The album is primarily solo piano, but some of the tracks include electronic effects and contemporary production techniques that bring the music right into the 21st century. The son of classical pianists who had a "nice" collection of jazz records, Arbenz started playing the piano at a very early age and grew up surrounded by a variety of styles of music. His formal training was in the classics, but he is self-taught as a jazz musician. Also well-known for his work with VEIN Trio, Arbenz's first solo album, Reflections of D (2023), was a tribute to Duke Ellington, his idol. A prolific contributor to the Swiss jazz scene, Arbenz’s career has included extensive tours throughout Europe, North America, Asia and South America. He has recorded and performed with artists that include Greg Osby, Glenn Ferris, Dave Liebman, Marc Johnson, Wolfgang Puschnig and Andy Sheppard in addition to his solo and trio work.

Classicism - A Point of View begins with "Brilliant Moon," which was inspired by Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." The opening strains are very familiar, but soon begin to evolve into something new with bits and pieces of the original piece interwoven into the fascinating and extensively improvised creation. "Where It Springs Into Being" takes off from JS Bach's "Prelude in C Major," a piece most piano students learn at some point. Sometimes playing the original Prelude with one hand and improvising with the other, the piece goes through quite an evolution in just under seven minutes. "Nicolayevich" is one of my favorite tracks and is based on "Prelude Op. 11 #5" by Alexander Scriabin. "Nicolayevich" is Scriabin’s middle name. Gently melodic yet deeply expressive and graceful, it's a beauty! "Mundus Novus" is a solo piano interpretation of Dvorak's New World Symphony. The very familiar theme weaves in and out of swing rhythms, improvised explorations and more. "The Roadside Tavern" was inspired by Johannes Brahms' "Hungarian Dance #5," and includes passages with the acoustic piano overdubbed with electronic keyboards. Bright and lively with a definite jazz groove, the appearance of the various snippets from the Brahms piece provide fun surprises. "Lullaby" was also inspired by a famous Brahms piece and is an ethereal improvisation with a few electronic effects and light reverb for a quiet, dream-like atmosphere. The closing track is "Riding For a Fall," which quotes Paul Hindemith's clarinet concerto, originally composed for Benny Goodman. Bright, lively and often playful, it has the "wow" factor of a great encore piece in concert. Wow!!!

Classicism - A Point of View is excellent from start to finish! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify.
March 6, 2024
This review has been tagged as:
ClassicalJazzLatest Reviews
More reviews of Michael Arbenz albums