Yue Deng, Jean-Yves Thibaudet – Claus Ogermann – Works for Violin & Piano (2006)

Composer: Claus Ogermann

Composition: Works for Violin & Piano

Performers: Yue Deng, Jean-Yves Thibaude

Released: Decca / 2006

Sourse of information: Allmusic.com Buy on Amazon

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Best known in America as a jazz arranger, Claus Ogermann is renowned mainly for his work with Antonio Carlos Jobim. Nevertheless, this represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of his actual accomplishments; Ogermann has worked with Bill Evans, Connie Francis, Quincy Jones, Wes Montgomery, Barbra Streisand, and so many other big names in entertainment that it would do him no justice to try and summarize them. In the 1970s, Ogermann began to turn his attention to composing, and in 1980 he left the pop music field entirely, only returning in about 2000 to work with Diana Krall. Ogermann has been nominated for Grammy Awards 17 times, but he has won only once, for an album done with George Benson in 1979. In terms of his classical work, Ogermann is no Third Streamer; while he uses some distinctly jazz-tinged, widely spaced harmonies, his classically conceived music is a distinct and separate universe, and perhaps even a safe haven from, Ogermann’s work in pop music. Decca’s Claus Ogermann: Works for Violin and Piano features newcomer violinist Yué Deng and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in three extended pieces and a fourth, short work, Nightwings, originally written for legendary jazz violinist Joe Venuti.

The opening Sarabande-Fantaisie is dominated by the violin and Thibaudet seems wasted on it, with its spare chords and single-note accompaniment; one wonders if he was able to read The Los Angeles Times as he played it. Deng is kept very busy, and while the Sarabande-Fantasie establishes a good sense of atmosphere at first, the piece seems rather long and rambling; nevertheless, one can think of more unpleasant ways to spend 15 minutes. In the other pieces, Thibaudet has more to do, particularly the “Preludio” and “Chant,” as its accompaniment is built out of a busily polyphonic texture, perhaps reflecting Ogermann’s interest in the music of Max Reger. The Duo Lirico, at one time titled “Divertissement,” is a multi-movement work and the most ambitious composition here; the closing Finale has some of the most affecting music on the disc, although Nightwings has a touching sentimentality to it that is, in a way, magical — violin players should take note of it as an effective encore piece.

The recording, made in the legendary Capitol Records tower at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles, is nicely made, though one really wishes throughout that Deng could have been placed just a little louder in the mix. Some subtle, expressive turns of phrase employed are a little hard to hear, as Deng is a little softer in the recording than even Thibaudet. Though Deng is ostensibly the star of the show, there is not a word about her in the booklet; in brief, she is a discovery of the songwriting team of Gene Lees and Roger Kellaway, and she has made a jazz disc for Kellaway’s label Kellaway LightWorks and she is quite a find. Claus Ogermann: Works for Violin and Piano is a pleasant diversion, uncompromising in a certain sense but sufficiently contemporary and strongly communicative; a good part of that success can be directly attributed to the fine work of its soloist. (source: Allmusic)


[1] Sarabande-Fantasie
[2]-[5] Duo lirico
[6] Preludio and Chant
[7] Nightwings

Yue Deng – violin
Jean-Yves Thibaudet – piano

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