Friday, December 11, 2009


A couple of years ago, the Swedish Caprice Records label initiated a new series, entitled "Improvisational".
The recordings for this series are made in the middle of the night, at a Stockholm Concert Hall, with only a pianist, a Steinway piano, and a sound engineer.
Little time in advance, the pianist is asked to improvise on a certain theme.
The pianist is hardly prepared, and yet, the recordings starts...
The result can be found on 'Improvisational".

I love the idea. This is a great concept and a huge challenge. One that not many musicians would dare to take.

The first album in the "Improvisational" series had Niklas Sivelöv looking for inspiration in the music of Bellman.
The second release presents Mats Öberg’s interpretations of the songs of Cornelis Vreeswijk.

Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937 - 1987) was a Swedish singer/songwriter/troubador with Dutch roots. Apparently, Cornelis Vreeswijk was (and still is) very popular in Sweden. He was / is considered a national treasure.

I was very curious to find out how Mats Öberg would cope with his assignement. I'm not familiar with Vreeswijk's songs, but I kept wondering how one could translate music from a singer with a guitar to the instrumental grand piano.

"Improvisational Two" is a brilliant introduction to the music of Cornelis Vreeswijk and it also gives an incredible impression of Mats Öberg's abilities.
Each of the ten tracks that are played on this album, has a very recognisable melody line. You can hear that Mats has great respect for these melodies as he addresses them with caution and prudence. On the other hand, these melodies get expanded and get improvised on, using the beautiful rich sound of the grand piano.

Grand piano jazz arrangements of beautiful ballads.
I loved every second of it.

Recommended listening.

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