|Live in Marciac is a solo concert recording of Brad Mehldau from the famous Marciac Jazz Festival in southwest France. It is a double CD/DVD recording, and is the first DVD that Mehldau has ever released. When the cameras occasionally pan outward and show the outside environs, the viewer catches some of the atmosphere and colors of the setting – the concert begins in the soft evening sunlight and ends in the dark of night. The video also focuses on Mehldau’s hands at the piano a great deal. The recorded sound of the CD/DVD is clean and honest – it gives an accurate portrayal of how the piano sounded in that space on that particular evening, and allows the listener to concentrate solely on the music.
The DVD also offers an extra feature that is of potential interest to musicians and laymen alike – a “scrolling” transcription of Mehldau’s performance here of his own composition, Resignation. On the menu, the viewer has the option to view this transcription, which passes by on the screen in real time with the performance, or simply watch the concert. Resignation was transcribed by the French musician, Philippe André, who has made other transcriptions of Mehldau’s music, and the scrolling score, creatively done and beautifully rendered, was made by Craig Anderson, who has created two other scores of Mehldau compositions that can be viewed on the website here – Don’t Be Sad from Highway Rider, and Dreams from the record with Anne Sofie von Otter, Love Songs. The scrolling scores represent a new way to experience the music that combine a more conventional listening/studying aspect with a more here-and-now screen aesthetic.
There is a kind of narrative arc to this concert, which is something Mehldau has said he hopes to achieve in his performances. The concert is a mixture of originals and treatments of existing material. Of special interest here was Mehldau’s decision to revisit three songs back to back from his earlier solo album, Elegiac Cycle. They are Trailer Park Ghost, Goodbye Storyteller and the aforementioned Resignation. They form an intense middle section of the concert, and when Goodbye Storyteller segues into Radiohead’s Exit Music (for a Film), we reach what could be considered the emotional center of the evening – there is a palpable release of tension in the remainder of the concert after Exit Music. The second encore, My Favorite Things, received its first solo performance here by Mehldau, and he has subsequently gone on to make it a staple in his concerts.