Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
I must admit that I approached this with trepidation. Vivaldi, like Bach, has been switched on (and, therefore, off) enough times to make anyone reel at the prospect of yet another "touching up" for modern audiences. In many ways, this opus by pianist-arranger Jacques Loussier can be compared favorably to the popular jazz-cum-classical projects of Claude Bolling. However, in Bolling's best known work in the genre, the "Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano" (1975), the classical flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal never once improvises. Here, pianist Loussier, bassist Vincent Charbonnier and drummer Andre Arpino improvise (and read) with aplomb.
Loussier is a superb pianist. Gifted with a virtuosic technique, his capacity to swing in a classical mode recalls such classical-jazz alchemists as Lalo Schifrin and Andre Previn. Here, Loussier's "jazz translation" of Vivaldi makes perfect sense. It also swings. And, there is first class soloing by all hands. Written by Vivaldi in 1725, The Four Seasons began life as a set of four violin concerti labeled "La Primavera" ("Spring"), "L'Estate" ("Summer"), "L'Autunno" ("Autumn") and "L'Inverno" ("Winter"). In its latest incarnation, thanks to Loussier, Vivaldi's classic "sings" anew.