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Mostly Minuets on Between the Keys March 9 and 10

For Episode 298 of the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys, The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler has put together a program entirely consisting of minuets. Or menuets. It’s the same dance, no matter how you spell it.

“Minuets aren’t just nice courtly dances,” says Distler. “As you’ll hear, they can be gnarly, pompous, symphonic, jagged , or else slow and lyrical. We have a wonderful variety of works, featuring pianists like Eileen Joyce, Rudolf Firskuny, Peter Serkin, Pierre Barbizet, Howard Shelley, Steven Osborne, Howard Shelley, Marie-Therese Fourneau and Yekaterina Ervy-Novitskaya.”

Distler rattles off these names with a smile on his face. “Obviously I enjoy perusing through my collection, not just to mix and match the music itself, but the actual performances as well. For example, I normally like the Rachmaninov Op. 23 No. 3 Prelude (which is a minuet) played with deliberation and gravitas. Yet the lighter and faster Howard Shelley interpretation best fits in with our  minuet theme. And although I usually admire inward and dramatic readings of the amazing Mozart Minuet K. 455, somehow Eileen Joyce’s directness and fluidity allows the music’s harmonic invention to speak more cogently than in other performances.”

Listeners will notice unfamiliar names among the pianists, and, according to Distler, that’s on purpose.

“There have been many wonderful artists whose recordings either go out of print or fall between the cracks…sometimes I think I should call this show ‘Between the Cracks!’ Take the Russian pianist Yekaterina Ervy-Novitskaya, for instance.  She had everything going for her at 19, when she recorded a stunning Prokofiev LP. But then she started a family and basically became a teacher, although she did perform and record on occasion.  And I only recently discovered a great French pianist named Marie-Therese Fourneau, who recorded in the 1940s and 1950s. Very special Debussy playing.”

Tune in this Tuesday March 9th at 10 PM for Between the Keys, with a rebroadcast Wednesday March 10th at noon, exclusively on The Classical Network and