“Two musicians are at work. Both have an acute sense of hearing, an alert imagination that will not be pinned down, that only loosens up boundaries within which they can express themselves. Most importantly, they know how to listen to and react to each other. Their playing has something intimate about it, almost familial, it’s like a conversation between two insightful, intelligent men.”
Chick Corea and Nicolas Economou played concerts together at the Munich Summer Piano Festival in 1981 and 1982. They made just one joint recording, On Two Pianos. Corea, “the chameleon of jazz”, is renowned for his collaborations with musicians of all kinds (in the same year as this recording, 1983, he brought out two more albums where he was partnered by Friedrich Gulda and Gary Burton, respectively). He had collaborated with Burton and Herbie Hancock on similar programmes in the late 1970s, which also included pieces by Bartók. Economou, a precociously talented pianist from Cyprus, received a classical training in the rigours of the Moscow Conservatory in the late 1960s, before establishing himself in Munich. There, in addition to his concertizing, he was active as composer, arranger, conductor and organizer of musical festivals, including the Munich Summer Piano Festival, from which these recordings are taken. Each artist improvises in his own style; their interaction creates a glorious musical fusion.
“It was a great concert. Yet, it was something more: it was enlightening. From it you could learn the importance of composition and improvisation. In the end, it’s a question of communication. The fact that our younger musicians have forgotten the art of improvisation indicates not just the end of a musical discipline but the loss of one of the profoundest human qualities.”
Almost thirty years on, Chick Corea celebrated his 70th birthday in 2011. Nicolas Economou died tragically young, in a car crash in Cyprus in 1993. With the release of Corea’s new double-album,The Continents, on Deutsche Grammophon, we are proud to bring On Two Pianos back to the catalogue. This is its first international release on the label.
(Quotations taken from a concert review by Baldur Bockhoff in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.)