Thursday, October 20, 2011

music for memory, and for dance

As the slant of light turns towards autumn across the northern hmeisphere, as the edge on the wind heralds the drawing in of colder weather to come, it is time to go on a musical journey, as Robin Spielberg takes fresh view of familiar classics, and Lissa Schneckenburger invites to the heart of history, and of dance.

Home on the Range, Aura Lee, Danny Boy, In the Good Old Summer Time: these are melodies and songs that cross generations and cultures and suggest a hand of comfort and connection from past to present. Robin Spielberg knew these songs growing up, and when she began teaching them to her daughter, she started to think of making an album of this music. Spielberg’s instrument is the piano. She’s known as a gifted composer with more than a dozen albums to her credit, sold out concerts at at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and an extensive touring schedule in the United States and abroad.

Spielberg brings her gift for melody to the well known songs on Sea to Shining Sea: A Tapestry of American Music, creating and recreating memories and melodies, presenting them without words and giving space for listeners to add their own stories. There are twenty tracks on the disc, including three Spielberg originals, which stand up in good company with the well known pieces. Though she’s best known for her solo piano work, she heard these songs as ensemble pieces. She’s well supported by Catherine Bent on cello, Kate MacLeod on guitar, fiddle, and vocals, Nancy Rumbel on oboe, Paul Henle on percussion, and her daughter, Valerie, on marimba and bells. It’s a fine recording to play through as it stands, but especially worth note are a lovely reinterpretation of The Water is Wide, the lively I’ve Been Working on the Railroad paired with the quiet Oh Shenandoah, and the original Circle of Life.

Lissa Schneckenburger offers an instrumental journey as well, into the heart of New England fiddling. She grew up in Maine, absorbing the mix of Irish, Scottish, Quebecois, Cape Breton, Appalachian, and other styles that swirl together there. Some of her earliest experiences were playing at contra dances - something she still enjoys -- and for her album Dance she has gathered a fine collection, featuring tunes both lyrical and lively. Her sure touch on the fiddle leads the way through the Huntsman’s Chorus, the Lamplighter's Hornpipe set, Eugenia’s Waltz, and seven more equally engaging tunes, well suited for listening and dancing. She brings along an ensemble of musical friends as well, several of whom you’ve met before along the music road. They include Bethany Waickman on guitar, Keith Murphy on guitar and piano, Eric Merrill on viola, and Corey DiMario on double bass.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: creative practice: early autumn
Music Road: Mother: music celebrating mothers and motherhood: McKeown, Ryan, Spielberg
Music Road: Music of Maine: Lissa Schneckenburger

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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