"I have always been haunted by the theme of the Allegretto from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony since I first began to play music."—Jacques Loussier
The Jacques Loussier Trio, whose marriage of classical music and jazz has captivated fans of both genres worldwide for nearly four decades, brings its unique crossover perspective to the work of Ludwig van Beethoven in Telarc's Allegretto from Symphony No. 7, Theme and Variations.
"I discovered Beethoven very early in my career, and what I loved about this theme was its simplicity," says Loussier, who has been doing jazz interpretations of classical music since he first founded the Play Bach Trio in the late 1950s. "It is very beautiful, very touching, and at the same time very interesting musically. It has the right spiritual qualities to fit with the musical world that I have created—somewhere that is not quite jazz and not quite classical music, but a new territory that lies between."
Those fans familiar with the Loussier Trio's earlier Telarc recordings will feel right at home with Allegretto from Symphony No. 7. The impressionistic start of the second variation is consistent with his treatment of Debussy in previous recordings, then settles into a jazz groove with bassist Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac laying down a simple line and drummer Andre Arpino holding himself in check with the simplest brushwork to support the contrapuntal clarity of Loussier's right-hand lines. In the fourth variation, the strong bass lead and spacious arrangement recall Loussier's famous version of Bach's "Air on a G String," while the seventh variation cleverly quotes from Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, an example of the kind of gentle and sophisticated musical allusion at which Loussier excels.
Allegretto from Symphony No. 7 finds Loussier in new territory, yet still clearly in touch with the musical world that he has made his own. Beethoven's Seventh Symphony dates from 1812, when he was at the height of his powers—still in his early forties and nearing the end of a period of intense production that also saw the completion of his Eighth Symphony the same year. Huge in conception, massive in scope, and romantic in flavor, the Seventh is a glorious work, but it is the simple, memorable theme of its Allegretto that we come away whistling after a performance. Loussier has seized on the essence of this theme and its eternal qualities to produce the most satisfying blend of composition and improvisation in any of his recent work.