Eyran Katsenelenbogen: 88 Fingers
On Steinway CD-327 Hamburg concert grand piano
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 30, 2009
This CD is a selection of interpretive ballads and improvisational classical and standards, played on solo Steinway by Eyran Katsenelenbogen. The New England Conservatory has helped fund this project, and Mr. Katsenelenbogen is obviously a highly trained pianist. He takes risks with renowned melodies and creates variations on each theme. A serious and artistic, rather than playful and casual, performance is the result.
#5 – September Song – Composed by Maxwell Anderson/Kurt Weill. Mr. Katsenelenbogen breaks this song into thirds, with the first and last segment played in quiet solitude, reflective, melancholy, internalized, and the center segment played with dissonant turmoil, like an emotional storm. My favorite tracks, such as this one, mostly retained the familiar theme, adding brisk improvisation, but not disguising the song’s memorable qualities.
#8 – Improvisation on Waltz No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. #64, No. 2 – Composed by Frederic Chopin/Arr. by Eyran Katsenelenbogen. With a sense of daring, Mr. Katsenelenbogen has reconfigured a Chopin Waltz to a clavé Mambo rhythm. There are snippets of the original Waltz, in echoing tones and a near-final refrain, but then the track resumes its Latin motif.
#14 – A Night in Tunisia – Composed by John Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli. Mr. Katsenelenbogen tears into Dizzy Gillespie’s theme with abandon, showcasing its straight jazz structure. Toward mid-track, the music becomes dissonant and devilish, off-key and off-rhythm, merging memorable notes here and there, but then it returns to a high-spirited jaunt.
#15 – The Summer Knows – Composed by Michel Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman. In this track, Mr. Katsenelenbogen seems to be lost in personal reminiscence, retaining the theme in soft introspection. In the center of the song, he exudes impassioned fervor, building the volume and intensity of his performance, before returning to a deliberate, whispering finale.
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