On the Cover musician David Grossman curated a mixtape for us with great insights and commentary. Take a listen and enjoy!
I love Bach with a passion, and am a huge fan of the way Lipatti plays it. (I actually wanted to find his arrangement and recording of “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring,” but couldn’t locate it on Spotify.)
Bach’s Goldberg Variations is probably my favorite piece of all time! A few years ago I actually learned it (on the piano), which was beyond a joyful feat for me personally. Glenn Gould’s classic 1955 recording is still one of my favs.
I’ve selected the aria, and a few of my favorite variations. Listen to Variation 25 — how he weaves in and out of far-away tonal centers so quickly and chromatically in this variation is still mind-boggling to me. This could have been written two hundred years later and still sound cutting-edge. Wow.
My teacher and colleague, Orin O’Brien, introduced the wonderful film “Tous les matins du monde” (1991) to me and her other students. She was adamant we all watch the film, as it is about a viola da gamba player in the early Baroque period, and Orin wanted us to have not only a musical context for the Baroque period (through study), but also a “living and breathing” historical context as well. Through my exposure to this film, I fell in love with Jordi Savall’s gamba playing, and early French Baroque music in general. It is also worth noting that the double bass is actually part of the viol family, and not the violin family — so this music is in our bass lineage!
I love Elgar’s music with a passion, particularly his violin concerto. This is part of a very famous recording which Menuhin recorded when he was only 16. He was certainly among the greatest child prodigies of all time! And a fellow deep devotee of Iyengar Yoga!
I have a deep love for piano music, perhaps because as a child my mother would play my sister and me to sleep with Chopin, Schubert, Brahms, and much more. Horowitz is tops; I could listen to him all day! (In fact, sometimes I do!)
Though many are familiar with Rachmaninoff’s music, few may be familiar with his oeuvre as a pianist. He was an extraordinary well-rounded musician — pianist, composer, and conductor — the kind of musician I aspire to be. I particularly love his transcriptions, and how far he takes them from the original material, yet always remaining true to the spirit of the original.
I’m a huge fan of Ahmad Jamal — totally swinging, and love his use of space. Check out how melodic yet functional Israel Crosby’s (bass) choices of notes are!
“Autumn Leaves” is another great classic Ahmad Jamal track. His approach reminds me of Stravinsky’s similar use of layering while composing, in which both develop music not through motivic development (a la Beethoven), but rather through juxtaposing sections of contrasting music. You can hear this clearly in Jamal’s “Autumn Leaves” and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring!
In high school I was completely infatuated with the great Paul Chambers. I must have learned at least a dozen of his bass lines and solos from the records! He truly took the bass to another level — both as a solo and accompanying instrument. It’s that much more amazing and sad at the same time to think how prodigious and prolific he was, considering he died at the age of 33.
The great Art Tatum is another one of my favorites. I wonder if he was born at another time and / or place, would he have been a classical pianist and composer? Also give a listen here to Tatum’s great bassist, Slam Stewart, who was famous for taking solos during which he would sing an octave above what he was bowing. Check out Tatum’s solo piano recordings for more truly jaw-dropping piano playing!
When I first heard Oscar Peterson play, I knew I was to play jazz for the rest of my life. His “Tenderly” is one of those recordings which as a kid I listened to over and over again, familiarizing myself with every nuance I could. It was and still is impossible for me to listen to this track without smiling broadly — this music just makes me feel good! And wow — the great Ray Brown on bass!
It’s worth noting here that Oscar Peterson’s rendering of “Ill Wind” is clearly homage a Art Tatum. I thought it would be fun to include a track of one genius jazz pianist paying tribute to another!
Bill Evans was another one of my formative jazz idols. I love this song because it shows the depth of Evans’s harmonic language while using a simple melody of only three notes, but the music constantly shifts and is never stagnant. Especially cool to note, he overdubbed all of the multiple keyboard and piano tracks on this recording himself!
This Bill Evans / Tony Bennett album is one of my favs of all time! The whole record is great.
I’m also a big fan of Marvin Gaye — the music is great, and the social message is more pertinent today than ever before. What’s going on?
Stevie Wonder is another amazing multifaceted musician I’m a big fan of. The character, style, harmonic treatment, and feel of his songs are so diverse, yet all so uniquely special. What an amazing human being.
This is a light-hearted tune by the great Jean-Luc Ponty, violinist extraordinare — fun stuff!
Brahms’s music is close to my soul, and I am very fond of Lupu’s interpretations. This intermezzo in particular is a favorite of mine.
Heifetz is “up there” in the pantheon of the world’s greatest violin players, and one of my personal favorites. His tone cuts right through to my heart … to say nothing of his technique! I also love this piece, particularly for the dramatic intensification which results from its harmonic modulations. I also love the varied articulations and bow strokes Heifetz uses. This track is a violin lesson in and of itself!
I love this Rachmaninoff transcription for its beautifully haunting harmonies and melodies. I understand this was the last thing he composed.