Moscow-born pianist Regina Litvinova and Zurich-born guitarist Stephan Urwyler have released a new album together called “Kinder Schweigen” (silent children). In this article, we dive into the duo’s history, their musical journey, and the story behind their latest album.
The Birth of a Duo
Litvinova and Urwyler initially met through drummer Christian Scheuber, who studied with Urwyler at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern. Their collaboration began in 2008 when Urwyler invited Litvinova to Vals, Switzerland, for a duo project. They played concerts at the famous Vals thermal baths, designed by architect Peter Zumthor. The duo’s music was influenced by the stunning Vals mountains, the Alpine air, and the meeting of two different musical cultures, resulting in their first CD, “Valser.” Since then, they have played concerts and toured internationally.
Live Recording of “Kinder Schweigen”
The idea to record their latest CD live stemmed from Litvinova’s desire to produce an anniversary CD commemorating their 10 years of collaboration. Live recording is an honest form of capturing music, reflecting their artistic values. The album was recorded in 2018 at Michaela and Walter Hoffmann’s “Klavierhaus der Kurpfalz,” surrounded by their collection of Steinway pianos.
The Meaning Behind the Title
“Kinder Schweigen” refers to a dark chapter in Swiss social history. The “Verdingkinder” (contract children) were taken from their parents and often auctioned to work as cheap labor for farmers from the early nineteenth century until around 1960. Litvinova was deeply affected by their tragic stories, which she discovered through a book called “Versorgt und Vergessen” (provided for and forgotten) by M. Leuenberger / L. Seglias. This emotional experience inspired the piece “Kinder Schweigen,” which became the focal point and title of the album.
The album cover features a touching photograph by Paul Senn, taken around 1940, depicting two Verdingkinder at work. This image was used with the kind permission of the Kunstmuseum Bern and Mr. Markus Schürpf and Mrs. Patrizia Grab.
Lessons Learned and Future Projects
Litvinova and Urwyler have learned many valuable lessons throughout their careers, including the importance of jazz tradition, improvisation, bandleading, and finding one’s own voice in this complex genre.
In addition to their duo project, Litvinova is currently working on multiple projects, including an upcoming live album with Richie Beirach and a new classical music lineup. She also runs Jazz am Rhein, an international festival, and a jazz series at the Café Dome in Ludwigshafen am Rhein.
(*) Kinder Schweigen (in addition to both mentioned upcoming releases with Richie Beirach) is produced by Philipp van Endert for JazzSick Records. Cover photo by Paul Senn: Heimknaben bei der Arbeit auf dem Feld, Oberbipp, um 1940. FFV, Kunstmuseum Bern, Dep. GKS Copyrights GKS.