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André Manoukian and Jean-François Zygel challenge each other on the piano, in Guéret (Creuse), on August 7

They will have no choice of weapons. But they perfectly master their musical arsenal, each in their own registers. The pianists André Manoukian and Jean-François Zygel will face off in friendship for an improvisation “duel”, tomorrow evening, at the André Lejeune space in Guéret (Creuse).

“Improvisation cannot be improvised! »

A stage adaptation of their show broadcast on France 5, Entre duel et duo. A musical show that promises to be fun and interactive. As André Manoukian, former member of the Nouvelle Star jury, and who is above all a master of the jazz piano, explains:

Often, I let Jean-François start playing. The first piece is slow, the second fast, the third is a Bach-style improvisation, with counterpoints. Then we play with the audience who come up with notes.

An exercise not so spontaneous as it seems, according to Jean-François Zygel. “You don’t become an improviser overnight! You have to train, learn the chords, study the scales and the rhythms… An improviser does two things at the same time: instrumentalist and composer. He composes on the spot, composition without rubber (but not always without remorse!)”, explains the classical musician, also host of the show La Preuve par Z, broadcast on France Inter. “Improvisation cannot be improvised! “, he summarizes.

Combine classical and jazz improvisations

Improvisation, which André Manoukian presents for his part as “reacting in real time. We have our ears wide open and we are building something together. The salt of these duels/duets is also partly based on the complementarity of the two performers. And their ability to harmoniously blend classical and jazz.

If I’m not a jazz pianist, I love jazz. I listen to it very often, and I often have the opportunity to share the stage with jazz musicians. As for André Manoukian, his France Inter listeners know it well: he certainly comes from jazz, but he loves classical!

Jean-Francois Zygel

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Although the two artists emphasize their complicity, there is still a bit of competition between them. And both know the strengths of their “opponent”.
Jean Francois Zygel 2007

“Jean-François is one of the rare classical musicians who still knows how to improvise today. Before the 19th century, music was taught through the art of improvisation. Then, afterwards, the musicians were placed at the service of a musical heritage that we have rediscovered. Half of their capacity was taken away from them. This is not the case of Jean-François who, as such, is a survivor”, testifies André Manoukian.

Only the music will win

The classical piano virtuoso emphasizes that his jazzman friend has “an extraordinary rhythmic sense, which comes to him, of course, from his practice as a jazz pianist, but also from his in-depth knowledge of Armenian and Eastern European music. ballast. »

But what strategies do the two maestros intend to adopt to try to win tomorrow? “Don’t count on me to give you my secret boots… The last time we had an improvisational duel, André won. So, I intend to take my revenge! “Slips Jean-François Zygel.

“It will be complicated, because Jean-François will be unleashed”, jokes André Manoukian. Then concludes: “in general, there is only one winner in this confrontation. It’s the music. »

premium The Précaire festival returns to Creuse and is exported to Haute-Vienne, from August 2 to 12

Jean-François Zygel and André Manoukian, Duel of improvisation, this Sunday August 7, at 8 p.m., at the André-Lejeune space, in Guéret. Full price, €25; reduced, €10; free for children under 12. Reservation on www.billetweb.fr/gueret-duel-dimprovisation.

Francois Delotte

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