We start the year with music from musicals — from Broadway to the West End, from Cole Porter to Stephen Sondheim, from Ivor Novello to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The American Musical, with its origins in operetta and Vaudeville, assured its worth in the 1920s with Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s monumental Showboat. The genre made a shift again with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s landmark Oklahoma!, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Along the way, tunes from these great shows became the foundation for much of the American Songbook and inspiration for jazz artists upon which to base their improvisations.
Spirio explores a wide range of music from the musicals, including the British heritage, with the tunes of Noël Coward and Ivor Novello up through the era of the Andrew Lloyd Webber mega-musicals Cats and Phantom of the Opera. But the American influence is especially present with the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein, and the latest musical sensation (for film) of La La Land.
With the debut of French pianist Bertrand Chamayou, Spirio now offers the complete piano works of one of the most important and influential French composers of the early 20th century, Maurice Ravel. Bertrand’s performances of some of the less-known works are included along with a new performance by Sean Chen of one of his popular, Le tombeau de Couperin. In addition to the ever-popular Pavane pour une infante défunte, we have the four-hand Mother Goose Suite, and also piano arrangements of the blockbuster orchestral works La Valse and Boléro.
For our Spirio Sync video this month, we present Steinway Immortal Vladimir Horowitz performing an encore at a memorable Carnegie Hall appearance in 1968, the Scarlatti G Major Sonata, K. 55.
More classical repertoire this month comes from Matthias Kirschnereit, who performs Alberto Ginastera’s Piano Sonata and from Tania Tachkova, who plays the Cuentos de la juventud (Scenes from Childhood) by Granados. And we have works by two of today’s important American composers: Gabriela Lena Frank’s Nocturno Nazqueño, played by Daniel Kim, and John Musto’s Improvisation and Fugue, Performed by Leann Osterkamp.