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Jeremy Siskind: Piano in Motion

Jeremy Siskind: Piano in Motion
Jeremy Siskind at the piano

You experience this immediately in “Sometimes I Wander” – the first of these nine piano études which seems to chart the darting brilliance of Mr Siskind’s thought-patterns themselves, where sometimes the dissonance might even arise from collisions of ideas such as might be heard about a minute and a half into the étude.

Elsewhere in the vividness of “Van Gogh’s Dream” and the colourful saturation of “Brooklyn Sunset” we find that dazzling pyrotechnics make way for mood and emotion. And yet the music seems as fiendishly complex as anything you will ever expect to hear from a master technician. In both cases, however, the music rises above mere display to reach a plateau of intense emotional conviction. Both are absolutely mesmerising accounts of great visual proportions, powerfully played with iridescent delicacy and inner calm.

“Homesick” and “Piccadilly Circus” reside at opposite poles of the pianist’s moods. The first is decidedly melancholy and the latter has a spritely bounce ignited as if by a spark of electricity. The listener – even one who pays little attention to the music – is presented with a beautiful prospect of Mr Siskind’s mercurial nature. The music of the former étude is infused with an enormous measure and a profound sense of loss. All of the sadness is completely and almost immediately dispelled with the onset of “Piccadilly Circus”, a mad musical romp through London; it seems, driven in a whirl of semi-quavers, exploring a kaleidoscopic range of thematic transformations.

Jeremy Siskind photographed by Barb Hauser

The following two études – “Temple Bells” and “Floating” reveal music bursting with near-sacred imagery. Both are radiant, incandescent performances. Mr Siskind reveals himself to be almost Lisztian here, appearing to have the ability to make what in other hands would sound merely exhibitionistic into a discursive stream of consciousness of the highest meditative poetic quality that leans into the realm of the metaphysical.

Meanwhile, back on earth “Blues” is a cry from within, deeply infused with emotion, a proverbial doffing of the hat to The Blues moving portrayed without any recourse to sentimentality. The recording ends with the ninth piano étude: “Enchanted Forest”. Mr Siskind takes us into another world here. It is full of glinting lights, mysterious depths, expectations, doubts and hopes, like the shattered shadows of a quasi-Mendelssohnian scherzo glimpsed by moonlight in, as we remain arrested in the “Enchanted Forest”.

In sheer colour and variety, in the depth of characterisation and the exceptional range and refinement of pianism, Mr Siskind imparts a veritable power and monumental stature to the piano étude form with Perpetual Motion: Études for Piano. In the variety and stylishness of this programme we also find a performance that brings effortless Chopinesque urbanity and lyricism to the piano étude.

Clearly Mr Siskind was born for music and formed by the reputable Yamaha School of training which has enabled him to conceive of and execute these études in a manner that has fulfilled the pedagogic belief that musicianship of an artist is enriched exponentially by introducing a multi-dimensional stylistic exposure to traditional and contemporary styles and forms of music – such as Classical, Blues and Jazz.

But more than anything else Mr Siskind is a product of his own genius; an artist whose work is as seductive as it is persuasive and an object lesson in style. His pianism echoes with bouyant, aristocratic grace and psychological ambiguity and he brings almost insolently effortless, debonair virtuosity and swagger to the piano étude all of which is evoked as few could even hope to try.

Raul da Gama is a poet and essayist. He has published three collections of poetry, He studied at Trinity College of Music, London specialising in theory and piano, and he has a Masters in The Classics. He is an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep technical and historical understanding of music and literature.


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