After two successful solo albums, Clemens Christian Poetzsch goes in search of new music. With his own sound language he attracts attention and has been inspiring an international audience for several years. But his enthusiasm is also for the great pianists of the century and their interpretations of classical composers. On his current album, however, he played pieces for the first time that were not written by himself, but by the Dresden composer Sven Helbig.
"Clemens Christian Poetzsch plays Sven Helbig" was released at the beginning of the year on the Berlin label Neue Meister. Now it is being released again in a live version. The ten pieces from Helbig's previous three albums, which Poetzsch selected, reinterpreted and compiled for his album, were both performed and recorded live together - the result "Clemens Christian Poetzsch plays Sven Helbig REDUX" will be the prelude to the Neue Meister Sessions series.
The two artists have known each other for many years. They met in Dresden in 2008. "Clemens already caught my attention at that time with his very own piano sound and brilliant, beautiful improvisations. When he played, the instrument immediately sounded different, just like him," Helbig remembers. The friends played for many years in a jazz trio at the well-known Blue Note jazz club. In search of their own musical forms, they lost sight of each other at some point. It was to be ten years before they met again.
Helbig immersed himself in his work as a composer of orchestral and choral music. Poetzsch left all band projects and began a successful solo career. "Of course I followed Sven's enormous development and also admired it. His music has always fascinated me," Poetzsch remarks. In 2019 Sven starts working on piano compositions and starts searching for a suitable interpreter. "I thought for a very long time about who would be best suited for this, and in Clemens I have found the perfect combination of technical brilliance, a feeling for sound and a broad musical background," he explains.
Helbig then played the "dead composer" for the album, in other words, he had Poetzsch work on the pieces after he had sent him the sheet music without comment. Only with the help of diary entries did both of them independently record their thoughts. Only when everything was finished was the other allowed to read the entries.
Months later, Clemens Christian Poetzsch met his old friend and musical relative Sven Helbig again in real life and colour: in an intimate atmosphere, both played "Clemens Christian Poetzsch plays Sven Helbig" live in front of an invited audience. This special recording will now be available to a larger audience in the form of the live album. Because, says Clemens Christian Poetzsch: "For me, it is a special and surprising addition to the studio album. In the preparation for the studio album, we had deliberately kept the worlds of composer and performer separate and very independent. On this live album, which is also a live premiere, both meet. The original idea of the composer mixes with the idea of the performer, who reacts differently each time to space, audience and instrument".
During the recording Poetzsch interpreted his pieces on the piano, Helbig supported, enriched and expanded the sound with electronics. The result was a harmonious symbiosis: "What unites us is the passion for the fantastic art of interpretation of the classical piano gods, but also for the unique aesthetics that a jazz pianist elicits from his instrument. And we can both easily lose ourselves in experimental, electronic music, ambient and epic post-rock," enthuses Clemens Christian Poetzsch. Sven Helbig also enjoyed the evening: "Clemens has given the pieces so many musical colours - much more than I ever expected. The album became exactly what we wanted: You hear half Clemens and half me", he explains.
For Clemens Christian Poetzsch, it was an enriching experience to no longer sit alone in front of his piano to let Helbig's compositions take effect. For he was now able to share his thoughts directly and in real time with the composer himself, but also with an audience: "When I write music or, in this case, seek my interpretation of it, it is a work that takes place in a small circle or alone. Always with the knowledge that the music is created from many large and small pieces of the puzzle. And the decisive piece of the puzzle is the presence of the audience - in the early work I can't even estimate how much they will then influence the music. It's a long development up to the certain moment where it finally happens. That's exactly the kind of moment the evening was when these recordings were made."