So, who is Jeremy Siskind? And what is his musicianship and pianism made of? Mysteries will – and did – unfold after we spoke five days later on the 31st of March, 2020.
Jeremy Siskind is a musical prodigy whose artistry has been formed by the Yamaha Method of musical training. “Ah-ha…!” I think to myself, “That would explain the “singing” style of playing.” The Yamaha Method, after all, does put a premium on solfége. The brilliance of his thinking and singularity of compositional thought is also born of early-childhood Yamaha training.
Yamaha fosters free thinking and this is clearly evident from the manner in which Mr Siskind develops his music from ideas to themes through the detailed musical explorations of melodies which are harmonised in unique ways unrestricted by recent (and certainly past) convention. Harmonically Mr Siskind certainly conceives and develops well outside the box. Musical thoughts are propelled not in a linear manner, but rather in what appear to be parabolic – and sometimes even rhomboid – shapes. Such incredible leaps can only come from novel ways of “seeing” and “conceiving”.
And so what For Mr Siskind it would appear that while tradition is a wonderful reality, not understanding that the inner dynamic of tradition is always to innovate can be a prison. Fortunately in his development through the Yamaha system his ability to ideate has flourished boundlessly. In Perpetual Motion: : Études for Piano, for instance, he has chiselled a small, uniquely beautiful, but defiantly provocative body of piano études from out of the bedrock of what appears to be the classical tradition, played in a style that floats in and out of the Romantic and Impressionist movements styled in the inventions of Jazz improvisation.
Mr Siskind’s book of études – released as a CD and in print form – is rooted in the artist’s imagination and explores music thematically (landscapes of broad and urban vistas), emotionally (capturing emotions experienced at times of day or in various states of mind). Others études dwell on the metaphysical and the philosophical. All of the music adheres to the étude form, albeit in a manner that while immersed in the history of the form itself also exist in a time and place that is utterly contemporary, cognizant and informed by the many styles that that have evolved since the invention of the form.
The vivid imagery of his work certainly testifies to unbridled thinking and development of ideas. IN each of the works he positions himself at creative loggerheads with all protocols –both age-old and contemporary – which dictate how piano études ought to work. By actively throwing overboard melodic, structural and harmonic hooks that have become expressively blunted through overuse, Mr Siskind builds from what might – or might not – be left behind in his progressive quest.
If you think that Mr Siskind is being merely iconoclastic, perish the thought. Definitions – eternal definitions of beauty – are central to Mr Siskind’s credo and while he might give the appearance that he is dazzling you with his technique, he is in fact melding technical proficiency with authentic beauty. This “beauty” is far from the kind of overly-perfumed, audience-ingratiating beauty typical of commercially acceptable music.