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At the Piano: Interviews with 21st-Century Pianists.

* At the Piano: Interviews with 21st-Century Pianists, by Caroline Benser. Scarecrow Press, 2012.; 168 pp., $49.95.


In this interesting volume, Caroline Benser chronicles interviews with eight, 21st-century pianists: Leif Ore Andsnes, Jonathan Biss, Simone Dinnerstein, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Stephen Hough, Steven Osborne, Yevgeny Sudbin and Yuja Wang. The interviews were conducted primarily by telephone between 2005 and 2010, and Benser admits she is a fan of each pianist included in the book.

After a 10-page introduction, Benser devotes a chapter to each pianist. Each chapter includes a photo, short introductory passage, interview and select discography. Questions in the interviews often concern repertoire the pianists enjoy playing, favorite performing venues and pedagogical styles of the pianists' teachers. The interviews are easy to read, and provide glimpses into many interesting facets of these performers' lives.

In several of the interviews, the pianists speak of recently composed repertoire they enjoy playing or would like to learn. Composers mentioned include, but are not limited to, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Nikolai Kapustin, Leon Kirchner, Philip Lasser, David Ludwig, Wolfgang Rhim, Bent Sorensen, Lewis Spratlan, Toru Takemitsu and Pantcho Vladigerov.

Potential audiences for At the Piano include piano teachers, amateur pianists and advancing piano students. Piano teachers will enjoy reading the accounts of these pianists' study with pedagogical luminaries such as Maria Curcio, Leon Fleisher, Gordon Green, Ji i Hlinka, Karen Taylor and others. With the advent of YouTube performances by these pianists, teachers might enjoy selecting various performances by these pianists and allowing their students to read the chapter containing the interview. This may spur exploration by these young musicians to a variety of new pianistic frontiers. --Reviewed by Steven Betts, NCTM, California Baptist University

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Author:Betts, Steven
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2012
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