A splendid sequel to the work begun on ECM 1565/66 in 1994: both Dennis Russell Davies - who instigated the project - and Keith Jarrett have since expressed in interviews their conviction that this second set of Mozart piano concertos represents some of their strongest experiences in recording. It's also a testimony to joint action and trust. Collaborators for 20 years now, Jarrett and Davies understand each other's methodologies.
Keith Jarrett, to journalist Larry Alan Kay: "I feel it's some of the best work I've done...I was working in a different way than most interpreters would have worked...Where a traditional interpreter would prepare his 'version' of the work, I didn't have one until the orchestra and I were actually playing. Partly because I've been essentially an improviser for so long, my reflexes are incredibly fast.... There were things happening that were magic. The orchestra was taken by surprise. Dennis was taken by surprise. I was taken by surprise."
"Jarrett justifiably views the performance of Mozart piano concertos as teamwork, " writes Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich. "He does not present orchestra and conductor with a finished conception that he expects them to accept and assimilate. Fine-tuning ensues by way of communicative interplay, in perfect keeping with the artistic fact that the instrumental voices and colours of these concertos have nothing of the schematic, subordinate accompaniment about them. This is genuine give and take, a dialogue among equals."
Jarrett: "One reason Dennis and I work together is that he knows how fast I am, and one of his main strengths is speed. He was actually able to respond with the entire organism of the orchestra to these moments without losing integrity. It was much more like the primary element was listening, rather than playing, which is a jazz sensibility...Sometimes, in complex works with dense orchestral parts, a fast tempo, and a virtuoso situation, everyone has to not listen, everyone has just to play their time." Soloist and orchestral roles are closely interwoven. "It was like a performance. Dennis and I both prefer to do whole takes, rather than those patchy 'let's start at bar 31 and go to bar 33' things. Those make me want to cover my eyes and say, 'Look, get someone to sit in...' Where's the passion in that''"
Keith Jarrett has been reckoning with Mozart's music for most of his life. Indeed, he opened his debut recital, at the age of 7, with Mozart. His playing of the piano concertos as a mature artist, therefore, represents no "crossing over" but, rather a continuation, counterbalanced by his extraordinary improvisational achievement. It is Jarrett's belief that improvisational capacities are imperative for playing and feeling 18th century keyboard music, otherwise "you are missing some giant link. There's a tactile quality missing. When you're an improvisor there's a certain shimmer to the motion of things."After a long period in which he played only jazz - and in which idiom he is a perennial pollwinner - Jarrett resurfaced as an interpretive pianist in 1979, playing 20th century music (of Lou Harrison, Colin McPhee, and Peggy Glanville-Hicks) with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. In the early 80s he performed Bartók, Barber and Stravinsky, and after 1984 immersed himself more completely in the worlds of classical and baroque music. For ECM New Series he has recorded music of Bach, and Handel, as well as Mozart, plus Shostakovich's Bach-inspired Preludes and Fugues op.87. He has also appeared on Arvo Pärt's history-making album "Tabula Rasa", playing "Fratres" with Gidon Kremer.