Posted inProfile

Go Out, Keep Playing

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m a fan. In the last 30 years I’ve heard him play many times, many more than any other pianist or conductor: Bach, Liszt, Mahler, Schoenberg. My main motivation was curiosity. You could call it professional curiosity. But you could also call it professional bias. Why do […]

Posted inEssay

Resonant Messages

I have been playing the piano since the age of three, but for most of my time at the instrument I was oblivious to the long history of African-descended classical musicians. Today, as a music historian and performer, I am drawn to narratives from and around the African continent and diaspora: to make sense of […]

Posted inInterview

A Climate of Fusion

Aeham Ahmad, known as the Pianist of Yarmouk, gives concerts throughout Germany and the world and has published a book about his life, also titled The Pianist of Yarmouk. He grew up as a Palestinian refugee in Syria, before fleeing the war there, and came to Germany in 2015.  His concert format often includes passages […]

Posted inBreaking

In Between Worlds

“I don’t know if there is a creator, but if he exists, all I could do is tip my hat to him and say, ‘Thank you,’” pianist and conductor Lars Vogt told me in May 2021, when we spoke shortly after his cancer diagnosis. Vogt died on Monday in a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, surrounded […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Amateur Hour

Lisa Moore: “Frederic Rzewski: No Place to Go but Around” (Cantaloupe) The Crossing, Donald Nally: “Born” (Navona Records) Anthony Cheung: “All Roads” (New Focus Recordings) When did “amateur” become an aspersion? The late 1780s, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. But the etymology of the word is written across its forehead: Its roots are in […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Empty Spaces

Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Heinz Holliger: “Schönberg: Kammersymphonie Op. 9, Sechs Kleine Stücke, Op. 19; Webern: Symphonie, Op. 21, Fünf Sätze, Op. 5” (Fuga Libera) Zehava Gal, Laurence Dale, Veronique Dietschy, Carl Johan Falkman, et. al. “La tragédie de Carmen” Bertrand Chamayou: “Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus” (Erato) “I can take any empty […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Still Somewhere

Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow: “Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2” (BIS) Joanna Goodale: “Debussy in Resonance” (Paratay) Lavinia Meijer: “Are You Still Somewhere?” (Sony) As the composer himself tells the story, when Camille Saint-Saëns was six years old, he composed a romance for a singer. The 12-bar work left its interpreter’s father […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

A Little Tenderness

Reinis Zarins: “Pēteris Vasks: Solo Works” (Ondine) Nicky Spence, Christopher Glynn: “Schubert: The Fair Maid of the Mill” (Signum) Overheard last week in Tempelhof Field—a public park fashioned, in true Berliner style, out of an abandoned airport:  “I hate it here.” “Berlin?”“No, this plane of existence.” A relatable feeling. Fortunately, there’s a new Pēteris Vasks recording. […]

Posted inInterview

“We Cannot Just Sit and Be Terrified”

In conversation, Ukrainian concert pianist Anna Fedorova is controlled, which belies the expressive style with which she usually plays. Her disposition is unfailingly sweet, and the hint of a kind smile is ever-present—but her face is also understandably lined with stress and sadness, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a follow-up to […]