Jazz Bonus: Johanna Summer – Resonanzen

At the beginning of 2020, listeners and the media were delighted, amazed and completely surprised by the pianist’s debut album. Johanna Summer, “Schum ann Kaleidoscope”. His improvisational approach to Robert Schumann’s “Kinderszenen” has also won the admiration of his colleagues from various musical fields. Classical pianist Igor Levit’s opinion about the album was clear and heartfelt: “Johanna Summer is an exceptional jazz pianist. He’s so centered and at ease with himself, he handles the material with such confidence and freedom… and yet he hits his mark every time.“Poet-pianist Malakoff Kowalski found the album too simple”shock good“and was”to the magic and wonder of the artist who fearlessly follows the music“. And jazz icon Joachim Kühn said: “Johanna Summer’s music is full of fantasy and uncategorized. It creates something perfect and complete with a wonderful touch from European classical music. something unique“.

” with

Resonance” (Resonances), Johanna Summer explored the method of re-enacting the music of classical composers through improvisation. The album covers a wide spectrum from Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Ravel to Mompou, Ligeti and Scriabin. About Johanna Summer’s two worlds of composition and improvisation his deep knowledge is the result of his special path as a musician. In his childhood and youth he studied only classical music. Jazz and improvisation came relatively late, but when they did appear, they were given a lot of attention. His classical foundations remained in place, but he ” Schumann had to relearn many things for “Kaleidoscope” and “Resonanzen”. As he himself said: “It was very important that I mastered the original pieces first. It was particularly demanding “Resonance”, because each of these very contrasting compositions makes very different demands on me as a musician. At the same time, improvisation is also an art that must be constantly practiced and developed so that the music can achieve its natural flow. Judging these two aspects and finding a balance between them is truly a life’s work for me.

Johanna Summer’s approach to improvisation is evidenced by the fact that Resonanzen was recorded twice in very different circumstances, using such diverse and demanding works as a source material, as well as allowing the music to flow naturally and organically. combined as in the album. Johanna Summer recalls: “I had everything carefully prepared for the first session and went into the studio with the attitude of a true perfectionist… also with the goal that the new album would definitely be better than the previous one. This approach to music was very clearly reflected in the results. In the process of playing, I had already prejudged too much, overthought, and ended up stopping again and again because I thought it had to be somehow more perfect. It made the gaps so tight for me that I had to constantly squeeze them.“These initial results did not provide the inspiration or flow that was hoped for. Therefore, the second studio session took place in a more concert-like atmosphere: the program was played twice in front of a small audience, without any cuts, cuts or analysis.”It changed everything,” he recalls. “The feeling of playing for an audience did something for me. I was finally able to play freely because I knew I couldn’t stop or patch anyway. I could just let things happen and take their course.”

Johanna Summer is never easily satisfied, as evidenced by the fact that she chose the demanding solo piano recital form for her debut album and expanded on it on Resonanzen. It is a remarkable achievement for a young artist to set himself the goal of confidently developing in two musical fields, each of which is challenging in its own right, and to achieve it with equal success. And this is all the more because the listener does not hear the slightest doubt about the efforts made in “Resonanzen”. Johanna Summer’s performance is very calm, flowing and full of soul. There is much here to surprise and delight. And every time the listener gets the impression of knowing the continuation and direction of the music, another surprise awaits him.
(Excerpt from the press release in English – translated by E. Lacaze / A. Dutilh)

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