Perfectly in tune with the blossoming spring season whilst being immediately impressive in musicianship – pianist Christopher Jessup takes listeners on an intriguing and complex, ever-evolving journey, throughout this seven-piece album The First Movements.
The opening Haydn composition is everything implied above, initially light and soaked in life and possibility, later incorporating an edge of drama and uncertainty, showcasing versatility of playing as much so as audience awareness in the cinematic detailing – the movement form space to fullness, quiet to volume, calm to curiosity to intensity.
Even in being just three minutes twelve in length, the story manages to enthrall and provide recognisable traits that linger after listening, and Jessup’s performance is superb – unquestionable in both skill and passionate devotion to the moment.
Afterwards the drama and weight multiply for a Grieg piece of cascading mania and lostness proceeding towards order and resolve. The mid-section is fiercely captivating, prompting interest in a live show – something that pours through well on this studio recording, but simultaneously lures you towards the real thing.
Mozart’s lightness and optimism follows, twisting the mood and impressing for the quick-fingered evolution and recognisable qualities. It’s an eclectic project, but rooted amidst these classical legends of the genre, with Jessup’s lightness of touch and breathless ability to maintain the journey forever capturing a moment in time with faultless precision and emotion combined.
Also featuring odes to Maurice Ravel, Bach and Beethoven, there’s a familiarity to much of this but more so a sense of the unknown or the lesser traveled roads. Jessup’s delicate and moving take on Sonatine, M. 40: I. Modéré, for example, feels authentically new as it elevates the listener and their imagination to greater plains.
Quickness and excitement return throughout the Back and Beethoven section of tracks five and six, the latter blending softness and power in a boldly compelling, rather addictive fashion; a personal favourite.
Interesting choices all round, and sublime playing from a young composer aptly committed to the sound and impact of each piece – no distraction, no disconnect; thus an equally immersive, hypnotic experience for the listener.
The project also completes with a bonus track Le Revenant – a striking, spacious and unsettling original, at almost twice the length of each of the previous compositions. Showcasing a clearly cinematic vastness of imagination and an artist utilising space and silence as much so as detail and sound, this one makes for a fascinating experience in and of itself.
Absolutely worth the time it takes to delve in. Solo musicianship at its very best, the peak of our generation’s talent compiled as both an ode to the legends of yesteryear and a fine contribution to the beauty and chaos of today.