Piano Grand! A Smithsonian Celebration

Piano Grand! A Smithsonian Celebration

Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Jerry Lee Lewis may not have a lot in common, but neither would be able to make a living without the piano. The same goes for Dave Brubeck, Cyrus Chestnut, and, it could be argued, Billy


Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Jerry Lee Lewis may not have a lot in common, but neither would be able to make a living without the piano. The same goes for Dave Brubeck, Cyrus Chestnut, and, it could be argued, Billy Joel and Diana Krall, two popular vocalists who also tickle the 88s with style. Bringing these various artists together is a Smithsonian tribute to the grand piano -- the venerable Western instrument that turns 300 this year. The tribute, recorded live in Washington D.C., is as wide reaching as the artist roster. French classical pianist Thibaudet rhapsodises Grieg and Chopin; Krall (backed by the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra) caresses the standard "Let's Fall in Love"; Chestnut spins out "Baroque Impressions"; Joel gives us his love song to the keyboard, "Baby Grand," and of course, "Piano Man"; and Jerry Lee proves that the rock-'n'- roll revolution depended as much on piano as it did the electric guitar. In other words, there's something for everyone. If the piano's first 300 years gave us this much diversity, just imagine what the next few centuries will bring.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ken Dryden
To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the piano, the Smithsonian Institution and Maryland Public TV collaborated to produce a public television special featuring a variety of pianists from the world of jazz, classical, and pop; this CD is the soundtrack to the program, which was recorded live. The eclectic mix of music begins and ends with Billy Joel, singing his ballad "Baby Grand" and his huge hit from the 1970s, "Piano Man." Although he is in great form, the house band backing him adds little to his performance, and at times keyboardist Adam Holtzman's volume threatens to drown out the leader. Jerry Lee Lewis is a great crowd-pleaser with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire," although these performances are hardly landmarks in the history of the piano. The Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra accompanies Robert Levin on the third Movement of Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto" and Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Grieg's "Concerto in A minor, 1st Movement"; both artists interpret these timeless classics brilliantly. Classical pianist Hyung-Ki Joo throws the audience a curve with a stunning arrangement of Billy Joel's "Fantasy (Film Noir)" that should validate Joel as a composer to those that automatically dismiss pop artists. Katia and Marielle Labeque's playful duo piano interpretation of Leonard Bernstein's "America" is delightful but all too brief. Jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut's "Baroque Impressions" rekindles his formal classical lessons playing Bach as a child, though he segues quickly into a swinging improvised solo. Eliane Elias and Her Trio play her thunderous "The Time Is Now," a very percussive piece that incorporates elements of bop and samba. Singer/pianist Diana Krall and Her Trio are joined by the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra for an easygoing if uneventful rendition of "Let's Fall in Love." Dave Brubeck easily steals the show with a solo interpretation of a work he wrote while touring Europe in 1958, the Chopin-influenced "Thank You (Dziekuje)"; the 79-year-old pianist hushes the crowd with this dramatic yet melancholy composition. There are minor flaws within this CD. The lack of liner notes explaining that this is a soundtrack and, perhaps, why these artists were chosen to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the program would be very helpful. The editing is a little too tight in places, particularly when one hasn't had time to react to one piece before another artist is suddenly playing three to four seconds later. The good news is that both a VHS tape and a DVD are available, adding backstage interviews with some of the artists and additional music by Marcus Roberts, the Labeque Sisters, eight student pianists, and the show's finale of "Heart and Soul." While fans of Billy Joel or Jerry Lee Lewis might question buying this CD, jazz and classical listeners should have no problem justifying the acquisition of this phenomenal release.

Product Details

Release Date:

Related Subjects


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Joel   Track Performer
Jerry Lee Lewis   Track Performer
Dave Brubeck   Track Performer
Marc Johnson   Bass
Rocky Bryant   Drums
Tommy Byrnes   Guitar
Cyrus Chestnut   Track Performer
Schuyler Deale   Bass
Eliane Elias   Track Performer
Seth Farber   Accordion
Robert Levin   Track Performer
Shannon Powell   Drums
Satoshi Takeishi   Drums
Ben Wolfe   Bass
Diana Krall   Track Performer
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra   Track Performer
Jean-Yves Thibaudet   Track Performer
Dan Faehnle   Guitar
Marielle Labèque   Track Performer
Trio   Track Performer
Hyung-Ki Joo   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Harold Arlen   Composer
Sunny David   Composer
David Hewitt   Engineer
Dave Williams   Composer
Ted Koehler   Composer

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >