Magazine article Gramophone

Joel Fan: The Pianist Talks Repertoire, Technique, Instruments ... and Race Cars

Magazine article Gramophone

Joel Fan: The Pianist Talks Repertoire, Technique, Instruments ... and Race Cars

Article excerpt

The most obscure piece on your dance-themed disc is Cad man's Dark Dancers of the Mardi Gras--tell us a bit about it ...

Cadman was a prolific composer based in Pittsburgh and LA who helped found the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He was also known for introducing elements of ragtime into his music. Dark Dancers is a blast to play. As the soloist, you're riding this wave of rhythm, sound and texture created by the orchestra; there's this huge instrumentation and such a stirring finish.

Gottschalk's Grande Tarantelle is something of a rarity too--what's the story of the 'reconstruction' you've recorded?

The piece is originally for solo piano, but Gottschalk would arrange many of his pieces for different ensembles. His orchestration of the Grande Tarantelle was lost, so the composer and orchestrator Hershy Kay (he who orchestrated Bernstein's On the Town) made this orchestration. It became really well known when George Balanchine used it for his ballet Tarantella.

Can you sense the national characteristics in these pieces--the Gallic in Saint-Saens, the Slavic in the Chopin?

Definitely. The Saint-Saens Wedding Cake is so bubbly and elegant, like the fizz in a glass of champagne. The Chopin Krakowiak uses one of the national dances of Poland; you can just picture the dance and all its syncopations in your head when you hear the main theme. There's still that French effervescence in the Pierne but also a sense of visceral excitement too as he ventures through the materials; his work has more 'edge' than the Saint-Saens. …

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