Lisa Germano (wow, more than a singer-songwriter, she plays a variety of instruments as you well may know) is releasing a new album titled No Elephants in February of next year, and having heard it, I am blown away by her music yet again. Taking the path to a very self-made musical place has really taken her seemingly so far apart from the days when she was mostly playing sideman to John Mellencamp and appearing with artists like Billy Joel, Simple Minds, etc. Her efforts as a musician showed a person of prowess, but her music revealed much more complex pictures and a vulnerability that couldn’t always be fully expressed by a full rock band.
She had a few minutes to speak with me about some of this.
CM: I had a chance to hear the new CD No Elephants–For me, It is very hard to describe your music, even ever since your first album! I really enjoy it, and this new one is already a classic (My favorite tracks so far are “A Feast” and “Strange Bird”). It’s interesting for its brevity at 35 mins. and it leaves one wanting more. The thing that catches me a good deal of the time is your use of non-musical things and making them musical, and here the most obvious thing is the cell-phone interference static noise on a few of the songs. Can you talk about this and where you came up with this idea?
Lisa: On my new record No Elphants, I wanted to convey my confusion and frustration relating to people on cell phones, our abuse of communication and how this affects our relationship to the earth and its beings. So many people on their cells or computers. Not communicating is sad to me, so Jamie Candiloro and I found all sorts of sounds relating to this and added them into many parts of the record sometimes to me funny in a tragic sort of way. The communication with the animal sounds, cell and computer sounds dancing together is the point here..
Jamie is awesome–always finds what I’m hearing. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Shatan
Jenny Lin, piano
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Written by Jeremy Shatan
In the Western Classical tradition, virtuosity is a given, at least if you want to have a hope of revealing the music behind all those little black dots. The is mainly due to the specific techniques used to play the instruments employed, and to the tendency of many composers to seek the limits of those techniques.
That said, virtuosity for its own sake is not something that interests me. I prefer to listen to what should be a communication from another soul than to think about technique when at a performance or listening to a recording. I recognize that I may be in a minority as the popularity of virtuoso musicians playing show-stopping music seems to be holding steady.
Jenny Lin proved herself to be a virtuoso beyond a doubt when she performed arrangements of show tunes at Le Poisson Rouge last Tuesday night. Her technique was flawless, making use of every aspect of the piano’s dynamic and tonal range. At times my mind wandered into thinking about the neuro-muscular system, and the phenomenal control she had over her fingers and forearms. It was truly dazzling playing and it seemed to engage the audience completely.
While Lin’s technique was straight out of the European tradition, her repertoire for the concert, drawn from her new album Get Happy, was strictly American. To put the audience in a lighthearted mood, a video (created by her husband–well done, sir) was played before she came on stage. It was a visual compendium of interpretations of many of the songs in her set, featuring Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, and, more often than you might expect, The Muppets. It was sort of a miniature That’s Entertainment, with snippets of several performances for each song included. The point of the video, as I saw it, was not only to help us “get happy,” but also to make it clear that Lin was taking her place in the long line of artists who had performed these songs, with no one approach being precisely definitive. Continue reading
Composer-singers (gifted musicians, too) Danielle Eva Schwob and Gene “Sxip” Shirey had some time to chat with me about their concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on Friday, November 30th at 8 PM (Doors open at 7 PM). The event, titled Danielle & Sxip’s Hour of Charm, is scheduled to feature not only these folks but also the likes of Todd Reynolds, ETHEL, clarinetist Ned Rothenberg, harpist Bridget Kibbey, throat singer Liron Peled, beatboxer Adam Matta, and singer-songwriter Corn Mo among several others.
The two composers were originally scheduled to put on a chamber concert with SYZYGY, an ensemble that will still be playing at this show, and they were in the midst of raising money for it, but Hurricane Sandy, and the need for aid for the damages and losses forced the two to make the event a charity concert, from which the funds will be going to local relief efforts. Continue reading
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Hilary Hahn ~ violin
“To Russia My Homeland” (written by Conrad Keely)
Live at unknown venue, Moscow, Russia; 4/22/06
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Apologies for the shaky camera, this was shot in a rock club in Russia by either a roadie or a band member, not sure)
This is something I decided to post for Hilary Hahn’s birthday, and since I wasn’t too sure if most people had ever seen this clip, I thought now would be a good time. It’s something that continues to give me a very odd feeling for some reason. I’m not sure why since there are other classical violinists that play more than one kind of music all the time, but maybe it’s because I’m so used to the angelic image that Hilary Hahn puts out there whenever we see the classical performances that when I got a load of this, I was stunned. I knew that she’d played this piece on the album Worlds Apart and I even bought a copy of it (this was in 2005, so it was long before I ever became interested in downloading anything), but to see the way she moves here versus the way she moves in a regular fashion, you get the impression that she was possessed by something that combines Paganini with Jimi Hendrix (and it’s his birthday too, so, this is perfect for that as well). Between all that and this rather dark rocker-chick look with the loose hair and black jeans (and electric violin), it’s a moment in Hilary’s career that continues to provide great bewilderment, fascination and merriment for me, among so many other things she does, so, in a way this is the status quo.
Happy Birthday, Hilary Hahn!
Pianist Jenny Lin had a few minutes to discuss her new CD Get Happy, an album of theatrical show tunes arranged very superbly for solo piano by some of the greatest soloists of piano today such as Christopher O’Riley, Marc-André Hamelin, Greg Anderson and the late Alexis Weissenberg just to name a few (EDITOR’S NOTE: Jenny played the pieces just as superbly).
Jenny also has a couple of shows coming up in NYC on Tuesday, Nov. 27th at Le Poisson Rouge at 7:30 PM (Doors open 6:30; This one being the CD release party for Get Happy) and Thursday the 29th at Greenwich House Music at 8 PM; a show titled unCAGEd: FOR MERCE (A duet show with Lois Svard)
CM: I really enjoy listening to the new CD Get Happy! I’m a fan of arrangements transcribed for piano (solo, piano-duo, 2-piano, etc), and the people that worked up these arrangements are people I really like as well. Are the pieces mostly arranged for you and this project?
Jenny: The Greg Anderson piece, the Hamelin–those were written for me. The “Eliza in Ascot” by Stefan Malzew–that was also written for the project. Uri Caine also wrote one of “Honeysuckle Rose” that didn’t make it onto the CD, and that’s a bonus download on iTunes. The other arrangements all existed already. Continue reading
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
The Nutcracker (1892)
Pas de Deux ~ Intrada
Transcribed for solo piano by Mikhail Pletnev (b. 1957)
Yuri Rozum, piano (recorded 2004)
Hilary Hahn performing the Korngold Violin Concerto at De Jong Concert Hall at BYU on November 15th, 2012 (Photos courtesy of May Anderton Ryan)
The Utah Symphony and Hilary Hahn
Utah Symphony Orchestra
Thierry Fischer, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin
de Jong Concert Hall at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Thursday. November 15, 2012
Written by May Anderton Ryan
The arts have found a backdrop in the great American western mountains of Utah. The arts accept the challenge to thrive here in the desert, to capture natural beauty, industriousness, and to create a sense of community. Artists and musicians converge in the Salt Lake Valley to form the Utah Symphony.
I have never heard the Utah Symphony before Thursday night, and I haven’t heard a live, professional orchestra in at least three years. I was having withdrawals.
Last April, when BYU announced that the Utah Symphony would be performing at the de Jong Concert Hall, and when the school mentioned that Hilary Hahn would be a guest artist with the symphony, I knew that I had to go. I knew that I would.
I bought tickets on October 15, the day they went on sale, and my husband sat next to me in the sixth row. He could tell how excited I was to be there. We noticed the diverse crowd: Elderly people who have season tickets to the BYU concert series, college students who know members of the Utah Symphony and/or who Hilary Hahn is, families with little girls who play violin and look up to Hilary Hahn as a role model. Continue reading