Kathleen Tagg & Andre Peterson Piano Duo

Andre Petersen and Kathleen Tagg waits for the audience to enter the Beethoven room, before their piano duo in Grahamstown on 9 July 2015, at the National Arts Festival. The duo presents a unique collaboration of classical piano and jazz. (Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe)

Seen on July 7, 2015 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

The Kathleen Tagg/ Andre Peterson project brings  two of South Africa’s most celebrated pianists together to explore new soundscapes and possibilities of SA piano music drawing on their training and acclaim as classical and jazz pianists and interpreting works and original compositions by South African jazz composers, creating an own unique sound.

Opener African Dawn shows Tagg very expressive rendering Abdullah Ibrahim’s song with a incredible technique. Another sonic landscape is Andre Peterson’s very own Cape Doctor. Inspired by rewatching Mandela’s inaugural speech Tagg composed As the Flowers Blossom with the idea that personal renewal comes like a frivolous spring. You do feel the flowers blossoming. The constant upbeat make you wonder about flowers that have to compete with others to grow toward light, accelerating to become the first. Linked to that is NtyiloNtyilo that speaks of birds and the light morning song that becomes heavier.

Angola from BhekiMsleku has Tagg at moments taking over the bassline and alternating with jazz improvisation as happy as can be on the piano. Followed by another composition from Tagg Second Time Around a whole new sound emerges as the duo are heard in action to their full capacity. Peterson’s second composition on the programme tonight is Time Watchers inspired by the book of Daniel (a time and a half) and provides a contemplation on the nature of time, the eternal aspect of time and sounds profound and revered. Tagg’s contribution using the inside strings of the grand piano rather distract the attention that the part of Peterson deserves. Otherwise an absolutely beautiful song.

Gershwin’s Embraceable You has a glamour role for both musicians in a magnificent rendition. Joyful vibrancy and West African tunes make up Rapela written by Moses Molelekwa. Peterson’s D’Julle, Onsenhulle is jazz piano at its grandest. A tribute to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Tonk and the hectic New York rhythms of Tagg’s Berimbau leaves the audience at times lost in this new world of sound and at time bewildered about the rich tapestry of sound that is produced and was premiered on this warm July night.