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A few weeks ago I experienced one of the special events of my life. The funny thing is, I almost did not go. My mother's description of the event to be to which she had invited me went something along the lines of "Come to my friends house, they are going to have someone there playing piano."
What an understatement that turned out to be. The 'friends' turned out to be the NYC Newmarks, the lady of the house has been a tennis partner for my mother for over 15 years. The 'someone there playing piano' was none other than world renown and virtuoso pianist Alan Gampel, who has had these sorts of reviews from the press:
"A mesmerizing performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 3 ...
with his graceful, fluid legato technique and trills to die for, Alan
Gampel made one forget that the piano is a percussion instrument."
--Grand Rapids Press, 2000
"Gampel's recital was a polished gem that brought new luster to Chopin's music."
--The Desert Sun, 1999
"The highlight was 'The Age of Anxiety'... Gampel's playing had a steely center
but a touchingly vulnerable exterior. Utterly clear yet delicately shaped,
his piano line became a vivid character combining loneliness and valor."
--Chicago Sun-Times, 1998
"One discovery for me was the Tchaikowsky Concert Fantasia ...
crisp, fresh ... Alan Gampel negotiated the daredevil solo part with finesse."
--The New Yorker, 1998
"Gampel revealed a prodigious technique Mozart would have admired,
displaying classical restraint and a delicacy of expression."
--Citizen Times 1998
"Alan Gampel, a gifted pianist with a debonair command of the idiom."
--Chicago Tribune, 1998
"Lyricism - special even by Chopin's standards."
--New York Times, 1995
"Velvety sound and virtuoso assurance."
--New York Times, 1993
"Masterly reading. Breathtaking performance. Dazzling."
--Musical Opinion (U.K.), 1993
"The dexterity of a wizard and his tone quality that of velvet.."
--The Post and Courier, 1993
"An exciting Richterish ferocity ."
--The Irish Times, 1991
As far as I am concerned, these reviews do not do him justice. When Gampel attacked the piano, it sounded like an instrument I had never heard before. It was as if Homeric Sirens were bound up in the wood and Gampel released them to captivate and mesmerize those of us lucky enough to hear it.
Gampel played a marvelous selection of American Jazz classics from Gershwin, Campbell, Copeland and others. But Gampel didn't just play the pieces and play them extraordinarily well, Gampel spent time before and after each piece to discuss it, the composer and the historical significance of the piece. Gampel calls sessions like these 'Informances' and has been giving them all over the world in places like universities, embassies and the like. As a result, I feel like my understanding of the music has been greatly enhanced. Gampel is an interesting and erudite speaker concerning the music he plays.
The event was so wonderful as to be surreal. The hosts, the Newmarks were wonderful, and I have come away with a desire to learn a lot more about American Jazz piano classics and certainly a desire to hear them performed. If you get the chance to hear or book one of Gampel's performances or 'informances', take it! His contact information is on his website, http://www.gampel.com/ .