Category Archives: Recordings

The Kennedy Center and Music Everywhere

What an intense week this has been! Performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, a program of Old and New with my trio, The Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio. The evening included two masterpieces, Beethoven’s so-called “Ghost” Trio, and Schubert’s sublime B-flat Trio. This particular Schubert happens to be the first chamber music work I studied very deeply and performed with wonderful colleagues – that was during my first summer at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, while still an undergraduate student. The other works on our Kennedy Center program were two new pieces – “Piano Trio” by Jennifer Higdon, and “Juxt-Opposition”, which was written for us by our cellist, Clancy Newman. It is definitely a special process performing a new work with the composer as a member of the group. The work tends to evolve and change while rehearsing, and it did all the way until we walked on stage! Here’s the Washington Post review that came out following our concert: “Trio Triumphs at Terrace”

I absolutely love interacting with the audience after a performance, and we had a chance to do that here, signing CDs in the lobby. I find it refreshing and also very important to hear impressions from people who are not professional musicians, people who go to concerts to be nourished, to be moved and inspired, hopefully even to be elevated to some level beyond that of daily life.  As I write this I’m thinking of one woman who came to the CD signing and said how grateful she was.  And she had such an amazing glow on her face – she clearly experienced something really special listening to all this wonderful music, was transformed by it and had a magnificent evening. I was in turn moved by how music can speak so deeply to so many people, whether or not they have ever actually studied music seriously.

A week earlier, I was in Oregon, presenting an outreach concert for young high-school students following a recital there. There too, I felt such a sense of joy sharing what I do with young people, most of whom had never heard classical music before. Combining playing with conversations, I was really surprised by how engrossed the kids were, and how they were able to connect with some challenging repertoire on first hearing.  Again, hearing their thoughts, young non-musicians reacting to music intuitively, was a reassuring experience – yes, great music can indeed reach people, and it isn’t going to disappear even if the “industry” is suffering….

By the way, here’s a really fun article by another non-musician. This relates to the trio’s new Brahms and Smetana recording.  I really love this – it is as important to me as any official “review”: Two Piano Trios to Research by

And – one last thing…: If you are in New York City, this Thursday, 1/26 I’m giving a Masterclass for NYU’s Artist MasterClass Series. This will be an all-Beethoven class, free admission, at the Steinhardt School of Music, 75 3rd Avenue North. I’m really looking forward to working with these students – don’t be surprised if you hear something about it on some future podcasts!

Bach, 88 Keys to Joy and a Special Week Ahead!

I’m exhausted. Since my last blog only a week ago, I spent six full days listening to Bach. 6 days of recordings sessions of the complete 6 Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, played by Mark Kaplan. This has been a completely overwhelming experience, both illuminating and draining. I’ve watched, listened and marked the score, amazed more and more with each moment at the incredible mastery of these compositions.

This kind of intensive recording project presents major challenges to the performer – maintaining inspired and creative playing through many hours and days, keeping the performances fresh, exciting and imaginative just as in a live concert, even when playing for just a set of mics and an empty hall. Doing all that while deciphering this incredibly rich, complex, varied and physically demanding score is a truly formidable task.

Recording large movements such as the C Major Fuga or the d minor Ciaccona, playing each movement through, listening, playing a few more performances of it, working in sections, still with great energy, mental focus and emotional involvement, and then, as an encore, playing through everything again…. That has been our life for the past 6 days!

And while I’m thinking of recordings, I wanted to tell you that I have the perfect CD for you for the holidays!!! Are you looking for something to bring you, your family or friends great joy?

I wasn’t really thinking about Christmas, Hanukah or New Year when I decided to make “88 Keys to Joy”, a festive recording of works having the do with the idea of JOY. I was looking to put out a collection of pieces that highlight different variations on the Joy theme, music that I personally find uplifting, and works where the composers themselves included the word “Joy” in the title.

“88 Keys to Joy” makes an absolutely fantastic holiday CD, with 17 tracks ranging from new works such as “Improvisations on Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Sivan, to Chopin’s Barcarolle, Debussy’s L’isle joyeuse and Bach’s Italian Concerto (which is the opening music for this week’s podcasts!).

You can give someone you care about a specially inscribed copy by ordering here, or of course you can also find it on Amazon, or download it from iTunes.

And before signing off, let me mention our podcasts for the coming days: On Monday you’ll hear about practicing the art of performing, on Tuesday the question is “What Is Music All About” (OK, we’re not really going to completely answer that big one in just a minute or two. . .), Wednesday touches on the difficult question of presenting and listening to new music, you’ll hear what to do when you are feeling stuck on Thursday’s show, and Friday looks into the matter of the post-concert routine.

Oh, and one last update here – today is MY BIRTHDAY!