I’m happy to help trumpet the release of I Still Play, a new album of piano music from Nonesuch coming out May 22nd. It feels like a bright piece of news in a dispiriting time, and perhaps a useful one as well. This is music written to be played—if not under quarantine—then at least in the home, as I explain in the liner note:
The existence of I Still Play as an album is a bit of a paradox. Each of these 11 tributes to [former Nonesuch president] Bob Hurwitz was written for an audience of one, on a particular Steinway in a specific Upper West Side living room. And yet here they are, making their way into the wider world. None are loftily ambitious or daringly experimental compositions. Rather, each distills an aspect of its author’s voice to a concentrated miniature. The prevailing tone is conversational rather than declamatory, though it’s a wide-ranging conversation. Large questions are posed but rarely answered in full. If the listener has the odd feeling of having stumbled into an exchange between two friends and missing an inside joke or shared reference here and there—that’s not far from the truth.
The pieces were premièred as a set in April 2017; I contributed Wise Words and later recorded seven of them (the other pianists being Jeremy Denk, Brad Mehldau, and Randy Newman). The video above, of Nico Muhly’s Move, was made by Robert Edridge-Waks and filmed a few of weeks ago in my apartment, where I am now of course ensconced indefinitely.
Nine of the pieces were to have formed the core of my Carnegie recital in April, now cancelled, along with everything else. I feel less sad than simply unmoored by these circumstances. Anticipation of the next performance, the next new piece, has always lent structure to my life; with these things suddenly revoked, I feel my productive impulses going into hibernation, as if they’re making preparations for a long-haul flight.
I know I’ll return to work in earnest soon. In the meantime, I’m cocooning, and I’m not too optimistic or naïve to imagine this resulting in any growth—personal, artistic, or otherwise. I live with a doctor, and in a way I’m grateful to be able to simply set everything aside and be the support crew, keeping the house tidy and pantry well-stocked.