Welcoming Brad Mehldau as Artist in residence is like raising the curtain on the career of a unique musician and seeking to fathom its mystery – at least for the duration of this handful of concerts. The American pianist is incontestably mysterious: in the course of almost thirty years he has revealed himself almost exclusively through music.
His music is that of an artist both inquisitive and demanding, a musician whose first notable appearance was in the mid-1990s, when he performed alongside the saxophonist Joshua Redman. Since then he has been active in many different fields, working not only with classical artists and ensembles such as Anne Sofie von Otter and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra but also with some of the great names in the world of jazz such as Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Wayne Shorter. He has also accompanied silent films and undertaken projects with his trio, the other members of which are the double bass player Larry Grenadier and the drummer Jeff Ballard. To his long list of recordings he has recently added two more albums, the first with the mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, the second for solo piano is inspired by Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier.
A single word seems to characterize all of these projects: excellence. But with Brad Mehldau this excellence is far from being synonymous with remoteness from the audience for, according to numerous media and attendance figures at his concerts, he is one of those rare artists on the jazz scene who is capable of reaching a large audience not limited to lovers of the genre.
«Brad Mehldau has made a name for himself as a composer, musician and improviser, pushing back and blurring the boundaries between such artificial categories as classical music and jazz and between music that is composed and music that is improvised. Mehldau does all of these things at once.» (BBC)
Brad Mehldau’s residency at the Philharmonie Luxembourg is a reflection of this multitalented artist’s gifts and sets out to showcase the diversity of his talents over three concerts. His first appearance this season will be with tenor Ian Bostridge and will reveal an astonishing partnership. Mehldau and the English singer first met in 2015 and quite apart from their mutual admiration they discovered numerous musical affinities. The outcome of this encounter is a cycle of songs written by the pianist. Working closely with Bostridge, Mehldau sets out in this cycle to explore the complex and tortuous nature of human desire.
Brad Mehldau’s second concert sees him appearing again both as a performer and as a composer but this time with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg under the direction of Clark Rundell. The focus of the programme will be on his new work for piano and orchestra, a piece co-commissioned by Philharmonie Luxembourg. His final appearance of the 2018/19 season will be a jazz concert with his longstanding trio.
Whether you are familiar with his work or are preparing to get to know it for the first time, the only requirement for appreciating Brad Mehldau is a love of good music. It’s as simple as that.
These two cities might both lay claim to the title of World’s Most Fascinating Metropolis, both historically and today. The programme of the «Aventure+» concert on March 22 takes us from Paris to New York, presenting the Artist in residence Brad Mehldau as a composer and soloist of a concerto for piano and orchestra. Clark Rundell conducts the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, building a transatlantic bridge between New York and the Paris of Claude Debussy, whose Préludes open the evening. After the concert, Pol Belardi’s music will be heard in the Foyer, offering an extra portion of groove.
In its complexity, Brad Mehldau’s residency at the Philharmonie reflects the essence of this highly versatile artist: after a duo recital with the tenor Ian Bostridge and a symphonic excursion featuring Mehldau’s piano concerto, the pianist closes his Luxembourg season with colleagues of his trio of many years. He is incessantly at work, inventing a new grammar for the instrument and conjugating the verb «to play» with all its subtle implications. An evening with Mehldau is more than a piano recital, for as a witness to his ingenious intellectual brainstorms, born of curiosity and his talent for improvisation, the listener approaches the origins of jazz, as Vincent Cotro will explain in his introductory lecture (in French) at the Espace Découverte at 19:15.
«Brad Mehldau is an aristocrat among jazz pianists and like all the best artists, he never stops growing.» (The Telegraph)