Summer Languor on Between the Keys, August 14th

Aug 14, 2018

In the midst of an unusually hot summer accompanied by intense rain and humidity, even a more-or-less level headed host like The Classical Network's Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler feels challenged to keep cool. 

"I tolerate air conditioning, but I get too cold too soon. The Hudson River breeze helps in the early morning and at night, but I have to keep the windows closed when I'm recording, of course," says Distler. "And I find that my generally languorous mood causes me to turn to languorous music. So I thought that might be a good idea for a Between the Keys episode, "summer languor." 

The problem, however, is that Distler wants his playlist to create a general mood, yet he doesn't want to lull his listeners to sleep. So this week's episode turns out to be just as varied and unpredictable as it often is on the ASCAP Deems Taylor Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys.

We'll hear Fabrizio Chiovetta playing Bach, music of Josef Suk with Jonathan Plowright, Joel Fan in an Amy Beach etude, a movement from Ayo Bankole's Second Piano Sonata played by Rebeca Omordia, Hildegarde Kleeb in a quirky Anthony Braxton piano piece, plus Chopin Mazurka with Alexander Uninsky followed by Michal Sobkowiak improvising on that Mazurka. And for hypnotic languor, Distler digs into his archive for a live-to-air performance he gave back in 1999 of Alvin Curran's haunting piano tryptich "The Last Acts of Julian Beck," in the presence of the composer.

"Naturally we can't have a summer episode without George Gershwin's 'Summertime', so we'll end the program with a fabulous live recording by Dick Hyman," says Distler. In a way, the selection is apt, since Mr. Hyman recently appeared at the 92nd St. "Y" Jazz in July Festival. Longtime Between the Keys listeners know that Mr. Hyman was Distler's youthful mentor and musical guide.

"I'm watching Dick on stage, playing with such fluency, energy and creativity, and he's 91," Distler remarked with envy. "And that made me think that I shouldn't feel listless in the heat, or unmotivated to practice. In other words, if you can't stand the heat, get right to that piano!"