Pianist Melody Fader had a few minutes to stop and talk to me about Chopin (prominently featured on her 2nd CD, released this past February 2012 on Centaur Records–I highly recommend it), and a little bit about an interesting collaboration she did called “Ghost Trio”, but I sadly forgot to ask her about New Chamber Ballet, which she is also involved with–Check them out too!
CM: Can you talk about your beginnings as a musician, and what drew you to the classics?
Melody: In my household, growing up, classical music was normal and everywhere. It was on the radios, the bulk of our record collections, my mother played the piano, and my father sang, played the guitar and played piano by ear. When my older sister started piano lessons, I was about 3, and I really wanted to play, too. So after a few years of copying her, my mother, and playing by ear, I started lessons at age 5. I always loved it, and when I played my first Chopin Waltz at age 9, I knew that this is what I had to do. I fell in love with Chopin then, and knew that I needed to be a pianist. I am, by the way, the first professional musician in my family, as far as I know.
CM: What is it about Chopin (whom I presume is one of your top favorite composers; correct me if I am wrong) that makes him one of the greatest composers for the piano?
Melody: Chopin writes very naturally for the piano. Not to say that its easy, but at least for me, once I’ve learned a piece of Chopin, it flows (well, there are some extremely technically difficult and awkward sections, too) naturally and fits nicely in the hand. Also, most of his writing is for solo piano, and I think that when one spends so much time focused in one direction, your skills become honed and you can be more sensitive to subtleties and details. That could be partly why Chopin’s piano music is so exquisite.
CM: The CD is wonderful, as you’ve seen me talk about–Why did you select those 11 pieces? He has several more that I would have also chosen.
Melody: I chose the pieces for this CD as I would a recital program. Some of the pieces are ones that I just really love and have been working on for years, so I really wanted to have these pieces on the album. It made sense to me to record pieces that I feel I have a long relationship with. And then I worked around those pieces, and picked others that I felt fit well, or flowed nicely before or after one of the core pieces.
Chopin: Nocturne op. 27 no. 2 in D-flat
CM: Is there a chance that you would ever do a similar album for other composers?
Melody: Sure! I am not quite at that stage yet, but my next album might be more of a mix of composers. I have always felt very strongly about Chopin, and it seemed right to make a whole album of his music, but I’m not sure that the next CD will be another composer- maybe a mix of several. You never know what will happen, though, and I’m open….
CM: Can we talk for a bit about Malina Rauschenfels‘ piece “Ghost Trio”? This was interesting to see–I interviewed Mal last year (a fascinating lady herself that does a number of things that totally makes this piece a very likely creation from her), and she said that this was a piece that also has you playing violin, as well as piano, and it also features you dancing.
Melody: Yes, I love working with Malina! I love collaborating, whether that means accompanying a student instrumentalist, playing chamber music, playing with singers or dancers. And I love going out side of the box and experimenting, especially when I’m working with fascinating, creative people. I grew up dancing, taking ballet at age 4, piano at age 5, violin at age 6, and then I wanted to do lots more, but luckily I was directed to focus on those things, dropping violin lessons at age 12, and focusing mostly on piano, dancing for fun. So when I’m working with someone as free spirited as Malina Rauschenfels, I enjoy playing with those other things that are in my background. It was really fun in the “Ghost Trio” for all of us to switch around and play different instruments, move around, and I love getting to dance in my own piano performances! I never got to the “professional” level as a dancer, so its a thrill for me to get to do it, almost in a rebellious way- I’m not really a dancer, but I can dance anyway!
Malina Rauschenfels: Ghost Trio (w/Malina Rauschenfels & Wesley Chinn; 2007)