11 April 2014

SNJO / MAKOTO OZONE: JEUNEHOMME – 5* Review

*****  JEUNEHOMME: Mozart’s 9th Piano Concerto No. 9 K-271

[break]Audacious isn’t the word for last year’s venture by the SNJO when, working on the premise that young  Wolfgang Amadeus was as much an improviser as he was an inventive pianist and composer, they commissioned renowned Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone to arrange Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 (Jeunehomme) for them.

Just how magnificently they pulled it off is caught in Makoto Ozone with the SNJO - Jeunnehommethis live recording.  The opening movement (allegro swing), swerves splendidly between big band swing and animated 18th-century flurries, with Ozone flying from the offset and SNJO director Tommy Smith ripping in on tenor sax.

Smith also provides an atmospheric prelude to the darkly tango-tinged second movement which sees a sinuous soprano sax interlude from Ruaridh Pattison and delicate ranging from the pianist, while the third movement, as its rondo / presto be-bop designation suggests, really travels, drummer Alyn Cosker driving things along, with Ozone sparkling and trumpeter Tom Walsh having a trenchant say. The whole recording brims with life-affirming virtuosity and wit.

Jim Gilchrist

The Scotsman, April 2014

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