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Ketil Bjørnstad/Terje Rypdal: Life in Leipzig

The partnership of pianist Ketil Bjørnstad and electric guitarist Terje Rypdal works like a marriage of opposites. Their styles are diametrically opposed-Bjørnstad the classical musician, Rypdal the rocker-but their chemistry has stood the test of time.

Their new disc, Life in Leipzig, draws from a 2005 concert at the opera house in that German city. The first four pieces are presented as movements in a suite, as are the seven that follow, so the album feels halved, much the way a disc of piano concertos would be. Bjørnstad, playing a brilliant-sounding Bösendorfer, begins with low-end rumbles and adds some midrange clangs before Rypdal joins in with his wailing guitar. A classically structured motif of chords evolves, and Rypdal plucks with a bit of feedback. Bjørnstad settles into what almost sounds like a Rachmaninoff concerto, and Rypdal all but disappears. Bjørnstad’s left hand develops what could be described as classical stride, and Rypdal returns with a vengeance, letting loose with a searing riff. Bjørnstad’s classical stride continues while Rypdal builds an epic-rock crescendo. All of this occurs in the eight-minute opener, “The Sea V.”

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