Happy new year, everyone. Well, new year. Here’s a video I made last week of one of my favorite holiday-themed pieces: Georgs Pelēcis’s New Year’s Music. I discovered this piece on an album by the wonderful pianist Alexei Lubimov when I was in college and have always wanted to program it; well, now’s my chance, I thought. I don’t know too much about the piece other than that it was written in the 1970’s for brass band, and transcribed for piano in 1996. It has an irrepressibly rambunctious spirit to it, an improvisatory shagginess, despite being written in almost perfect couplets throughout. I’ve compared its sound to Russian folk songs blended up with Christmas carols and Keith Jarrett; comments on my Instagram point to George Winston and Joe Scarbury. I think its over-the-top kitschiness is meant in absolute earnest, and I love it for that.
My pace on YouTube has slowed a bit over the past couple of months, but that’s not because I’ve stopped making videos. In fact, I’m making more than ever, just now they’re turning into full concerts. One that I’m particularly excited about is a recital with the violinist Rachel Lee Priday (our Cerrone/Holcomb/Andres/Ives/Wolfe/Copland program) that we filmed and recorded right here in my home studio (living room). That’ll be released March 21. I’m also working on a couple of solo programs for San Francisco Performances; keep an eye out for more about those shortly.