Jenny Lin's latest release on the Steinway & Sons label is a spectacular collection of show tunes arranged by Greg Anderson, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Stephen Hough, Dick Hyman, Stefan Malzew, Christopher O'Riley, Andre Previn, Stephen Prutsman, David Saperton, Cy Walter, Alexis Weissenberg and Earl Wild. Jenny Lin's previous release on the Steinway & Sons label, Silent Music, was chosen as one of the best albums of the year by the New York Times in 2011. Get Happy includes brand-new arrangements by Marc-Andre Hamelin (David Raskin's 'Laura'), Stefan Malzew ('Eliza in Ascot' from My Fair Lady) and Greg Anderson (Cole Porter's 'So In Love'). This is the first release to include all four of Stephen Hough's arrangements of the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein. World premiere recordings include Christopher O'Riley's gorgeous arrangement of 'Johanna' from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and Alexis Weissenberg's exquisite version of 'Lover' from the Rodgers & Hart musical film, Love Me Tonight. A very exciting release from Steinway!
Artistic Quality & Sound Quality: 10/10.
Jenny Lin is one of those pianists who deserves a major career for the sheer intelligence and musicality of everything that she does. This collection of show tunes arranged by virtuoso pianists offers the perfect combination of the familiar (the melodies) and the new (the arrangements). The result is a tribute not just to Lin's clever programming and impeccable pianism, but also to the many arrangers she has chosen (or commissioned) for this project, including some very major colleagues such as Andre Previn, Stephen Hough, and Marc-Andre Hamelin.
The program, 18 numbers in all, is organized principally around the work of Stephen Hough (Carousel Waltz, March of the Siamese Children, My Favorite Things, and Hello, Young Lovers) and, naturally, Earl Wild (all Gershwin I Got Rhythm, Embraceable You, and Fascinatin' Rhythm); but who knew that Alexis Weissenberg transcribed Richard Rogers (Lover)? Dick Hyman's two Irving Berlin arrangements, Blue Skies and Cheek to Cheek, are delicious, while Stephen Prutsman (Get Happy) and Greg Anderson (So In Love) offered their contributions especially for this collection.
Some of the arrangements, aside from their virtuoso demeanor, are relatively straight transcriptions of the originals, but others are independent works conceived on a grander scale. These include Marc-Andre Hamelin's Meditation on 'Laura', not strictly a show tune, but taken from David Raksin's classic film score (note, please that it's not 'Raskin', as spelled in the booklet), and Stefan Malzew's Eliza in Ascot, a full-blown and brilliant set of variations on a theme from My Fair Lady. As you can hear from the sound sample, Lin plays this music 'con amore', with warmth, a generous tone, and a real romantic lilt that never turns tasteless; and she's got virtuosity to burn.
Steinway's sonics are magnificently natural, a tribute to their pianos, to the glorious legacy of the American musical theater, to a galaxy of great pianist/composers, but most of all to Jenny Lin for putting it all together and presenting it so stylishly. I've played this disc several times already in just a few days, and I have no doubt that you will too. --ClassicsToday.com, David Hurwitz
Here's Earl Wild's high-octane, sporty rewrite of 'I Got Rhythm'; here's jazz legend Dick Hyman riffing on Irving Berlin's 'Cheek to Cheek'; here's Stephen Hough's frankly fantastic transcription of the Carousel Waltz. Jenny Lin asked a few of her friends to contribute, too, and they provided still more riches. Stephen Prutsman is tasked with 'Get Happy'...Marc-Andre Hamelin supplies a wonderfully introspective Meditation on the main theme from Otto Preminger's classic film Laura.
In Jenny Lin's hands, the hour passes like a gift from the gods of happy. She's got it all: a voracious appetite for lesser-known music, total technical command of even the most difficult music, a keen emotional ear, and a spirit of adventure and good cheer. She sounds completely at ease in this idiom...More importantly, she has a great sense of fun, wit, and, oh, what's the word? Happiness. That's the word.
Borrowing the Sono Luminus label's studio, the Steinway recording engineers have brought a flattering sound to their piano...it really is an outright joy. It's something every piano collection should have. For sixty-four minutes, you'll really believe it's nothing but blue skies from now on. --MusicWeb-International, Brian Reinhart
The Best Classical Recordings of 2012: Jenny Lin presents some of the most indelible melodies in American music refracted through a kaleidoscope of keyboard virtuosity. Lin says: 'What sets these arrangements apart is that they are all by performing pianists. I have always admired pianists who can play and compose, and I wanted to pay tribute to them with this album.' --WFMT Radio, Chicago, Lisa Flynn