Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Gabriela Montero an inspired improviser

As I write I'm listening to pianist Gabriela Montero's album "Bach and Beyond," (here's a link to an MP3 downloadable version) in which she starts playing various Bach pieces fairly straight and then improvises. Of course Bach improvised, as did most Baroque musicians, MOzart and others whom we think of as sticking to the music as written. I rather doubt if Bach improvised quite the way Gabriela does -- she has jazz-like riffs and 20th-century harmonies at her disposal (although one of Beethoven's late sonatas, I forget which one, suddenly goes into a variation that sounds just like jazz, so maybe Bach approached something like jazz as well, though I would be surprised. Gabriela was part of the token classical ensemble (including Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman) at the inauguration just over a year ago, so I guess I'm not the only one who appreciates her.

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