In addition, a second CD is included where Gabriela Montero, both a classical pianist as well as an improviser in jazz and classical styles, displays her improvisation skills through twelve semi-inspired/semi-composed pieces.
The first CD has three compositions by Rachmaninov, four by Scriabin, one by de Falla, one by Granados, three by Ginastera, two by Chopin, and one by Liszt. Each of these is played with astonishing agility and virtuosity by Montero, herself only 36 years of age. Born in 1970 in Venezuela, she won the American Music Scholarship Association’s (AMSA) Young Artist International Piano Composition at age twelve. She has performed under numerous well-known conductors, and is scheduled to make her New York Philharmonic debut in March 2006.
The second CD features improvisations by Montero. Some are based on well-known compositions, such as Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Chopin’s Nocturne in D flat (reminding me of some of Barry Manilow’s compositions where he begins with a classical inspiration, and then carries the listener into a totally different compositional style). Some of the improvisations are just inspired pieces centered around musical themes or motives, such as Improvisation in Blue and In the style of Bach.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable recording, one that showcases a performer’s unique skills and abilities over and above listeners’ tastes in a certain style of music. Ms. Montera’s abilities as both a classical and improvisational pianist make this recording a find for lovers of the piano, as it has both classical and jazz styles played by one talented performer.
Dr. Brad Eden
University of Nevada, Las Vegas