The Squid's Ear Magazine

Takase, Aki / Alexander Von Schlippenbach: Four Hands Piano Pieces [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Composed over a period of thirty years, the eleven absolutely remarkable recording from the duo of husband and wife virtuoso piano improvisers and composers Aki Takase and Alexander von Schlippenbach, performing together on two grand pianos or, as the title describes, performing with four hands, is a stunning achievement in style, complement, and nearly telepathic dialog.

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product information:

UPC: 9120036683679

Label: Trost Records
Catalog ID: TROST 227LP
Squidco Product Code: 33247

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: Austria
Packaging: LP
Recording at AA Studio, on September 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 2021, by Olaf Rupp.


Aki Takase-grand piano

Alexander von Schlippenbach-grand piano

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The Berlin-based master pianists Aki Takase (75) and Alexander von Schlippenbach (85) are two of the most distinguished composers-improvisers of our time, and also partners in life and in music. They are playing together as a duo for about thirty years (and also in many other formats) and their first piano duet album Live in Berlin 93/94 was released by the legendary label FMP in 1995. Listening to their new piano duet, Four Hands Piano Pieces, recorded in September 2021, it is clear that Takase and von Schlippenbach enjoy and appreciate good arguments in music as in life, but, obviously, know how to settle heated arguments.

Von Schlippenbach describes the duo dynamics in a typical economic language: "'During the first attempts to improvise with four hands on the piano, it soon became clear that playing together without any conceptual guidelines - of whatever kind - can quickly lead to unwanted tautologies or even pleonasms. On the other hand, it is quite possible that with longer experience in practice, something useful will emerge. The present pieces, which were composed over a period of thirty years meet these criteria in different ways".

Well, Four Hands Piano Pieces proves that much more than "something useful" emerged from this idiosyncratic duo. You can hear in Takase and von Schlippenbach's visiting with two grand pianos almost the whole musical history of the 20th and the 21st century, from the meticulously composed to the free improvised and everything in between. The short, 11 pieces last only 38 minutes but encompass a rich world of compositional and free (or as von Schlippenbach says: pure) improvisation strategies, and from what von Schlippenbach calls "sporty, acrobatic gymnastics", through tense collisions of cluster sequences, composed and improvised arguments and quarrels, grotesque dance and self-parody. And one playful cover of German composer Bernd Alois Zimmerman's "Allegro Agitato" which was composed for a radio play for Elias Canetti's "Die Befristeten".

Takase and von Schlippenbach take the listener for a wild ride, cerebral and thoughtful but also engaging and insightful. There are very few musicians who can offer such a wise and profound spectrum of music."-Eyal Hareuveni, The Free Jazz Collective

Also available on CD.

Artist Biographies

"Aki Takase ( ) (born January 26, 1948) is a Japanese jazz pianist and composer.

Takase was born in Osaka and started to play piano at age 3. Raised in Tokyo, Takase studied classical piano at Toho Gakuen School of Music. Starting in 1978, she performed and recorded in the US. Her collaborators included with Lester Bowie, Sheila Jordan, David Liebman, and John Zorn. Her first Euopean appearance was in 1981 at the Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany. She instantly became one of the most sought after musicians, who was touring constantly the main international jazzfestivals.

For many years, she has been working with her husband Alexander von Schlippenbach, as well as with Eugene Chadbourne, Han Bennink, Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Fred Frith and others, and in duets with Maria Jočo, David Murray and Rudi Mahall.

In various projects, Takase has dealt with famous jazz musicians: Duke Ellington (1990), Thelonious Monk (1994), Eric Dolphy (1998), W.C. Handy (2002), Fats Waller (2004), and Ornette Coleman (2006).

In 2002, Takase recorded with writer Yoko Tawada. Takase had read some of Tawada's poems, and, as the writer reported, she "started composing melodies and settings for my texts. When we got together, I read my poems in the same way that I always read them out loud. Aki played, listened carefully to the poems, and started improvising." In later performances, Takase used more unconventional instruments when accompanying Tawada.

Since 1987, Takase has lived in Berlin."

-Wikipedia (

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"One of Europe's premier free jazz bandleaders, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's music mixes free and contemporary classical elements, with his slashing solos often the link between the two in his compositions. Schlippenbach formed The Globe Unity Orchestra in 1966 to perform the piece"Globe Unity, which had been commissioned by the Berliner Jazztage.

He remained involved with the orchestra into the '80s. Schlippenbach began taking lessons at eight, and studied at the Staatliche Hochschule for Musik in Cologne with composers Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Rudolf Petzold. He played with Gunther Hampel in 1963, and was in Manfred Schoof's quintet from 1964 to 1967.Schlippenbach began heading various bands after 1967, among them 1970 trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens and a duo with Sven-Ake Johansson which they co-formed in 1976. Schlippenbach has also given many solos performances. In the late '80s, he formed the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra,which has featured a number ofesteemed European avant-garde jazz musicians including Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, KennyWheeler, Misha Mengelberg and Aki Takase. During the 90`s Duo work with Tony Oxley, Sam Rivers and Aki Takase. 1999 started performance and radiorecording of Thelonius Monks complete works, (all the compositions) with Rudi Mahall and his group "Die Enttäuschung"."

-Alexander von Schlippenbach Website (

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Track Listing:


1. Jumping Jack 01:47

2. Stoneblock 1 04:47

3. Dialogue 03:02

4. Sway 03:18

5. Blade 01:40

6. Apple Of Discord 04:51


1. Stoneblock 2 05:17

2. N.Dance 02:46

3. Nearly Yours 03:09

4. Allegro Agitato 03:24

5. Exit O 03:20

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Piano & Keyboards
Duo Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

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