Jazz Meets Classical | Peter Jonatan & Metropole Orkest: Psalms Symphony (Independent/19 January 2024)

Jazz Meets Classical
Peter Jonatan & Metropole Orkest: Psalms Symphony
(Independent/19 January 2024)

Pianist, composer and arranger Peter Jonatan has an impressive resume. Playing piano since the age of four, he earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory, where he is currently a faculty member. He's also an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music. 

Peter Jonatan CD - Psalm Symphony

The native of Jakarta, Indonesia, adds a background in classical music composition.

The Psalms Symphony bears traces of Jonatan's dual background in jazz and Western classical music. It's performed by a 60-piece orchestra (the Netherlands-based Metropole Orkest) with a jazz trio, a choir and solo vocalists. The work passes through sections that are flavoured by each in turn.

Overall, it's melodic music that is expressive, and cinematic in its scope. There are passages, particularly in the first and third movements, that also edge towards experimental in his use of unusual harmonies and progressions. 

Peter Jonatan conducts the Orkest Metropole

The shifts in mood often turn on a dime, as they do in the third movement, where an edgy opening eases into a jazzy, piano-fuelled section, then goes around another turn into a section with classical and baroque era inspiration...that finishes by blending all three modes into one stream. Jonatan handles the changes seamlessly, cutting baroque-style piano and brass with jazzy drums in one section.

He adds a chorus, with a soloist in sections, in the fourth movement, twisting baroque into jazz piano.

His technical mastery at the piano lights up the work throughout. It's a mix of genres and influences that doesn't sound like it should work, but succeed it does as a lovely flow of music.