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Album Review

McDonas, Thollem and Stefano Scodanibbio – “On Debussy’s Piano And…” – [Die Schachtel]

Max Level   4/26/2011   A Library, CD

Really, it would be hard to come up with a more stately situation than this: virtuoso pianist McDonas sits at Claude Debussy’s piano, engaging in musical dialogues with virtuoso contrabassist Scodanibbio. According to the liner notes, these are “improvisations based on a scheme Thollem devised specifically for this occasion.” As with many of McDonas’s improvisations, the pieces range from quiet meditations to wild storms of sound. We aren’t told what Thollem’s scheme was, but he was undoubtedly thrilled to have this opportunity to play the Maestro’s piano, and some brilliant musical conversations take place here. A bit of a quibble, though: the recording seems to have been made from a distance, and the large amount of room ambience dilutes the impact of the piano a bit. Perhaps they could have moved the mics just a tad closer? That said, what really stands out here is the excellent musicianship of these two. Overall, a highly satisfying listen.

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