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Get Happy / Jenny Lin

Release Date: 10/30/2012
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30011
Composer:  Irving Berlin ,  Earl Wild ,  Stefan Malzew ,  Richard Rodgers  ...  Performer:  Jenny Lin Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Stereo Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins.


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 André Previn, Stephen Hough, and Marc-André Hamelin.

The program, 18 numbers in all, is organized principally around the work of Stephen Hough (Carousel Waltz, March of the
Read more 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 Rodgers (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-André Hamelin’s Meditation on “Laura,” not strictly a show tune, but taken from David Raksin’s classic film score, and Stefan Malzew’s Eliza in Ascot, a full-blown and brilliant set of variations on a theme from My Fair Lady. 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.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

“Get Happy,” Jenny Lin’s new recital told me. “Come on,” I said back. “Make me”. Then it did. Yes: “Get Happy” gets me happy. I’ve tried it on several occasions, even almost medicinally once in a very bad mood. It works. Doctors should prescribe it. The medicine is not at all mysterious: take classic Broadway show-tunes like “Blue Skies”, “Begin the Beguine”, “Blue Moon” and “My Favorite Things” mix in a few other delicious morsels from musicals and movies. Then pare them down for the piano and dress them up in glittering costumes designed by performers who live and breathe jazz. Finally hand the whole thing over to Jenny Lin, one of the best new pianists of the century so far. How could it fail to make me happy? ? ?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”, of which Lin says in the booklet, “One has to feel like Liberace when playing this!” Marc-André Hamelin supplies a wonderfully introspective Meditation on the main theme from Otto Preminger’s classic film Laura. This is not the same side of Hamelin which one hears in his finger-shredding études; instead of giving pianists nightmares this short work should steal into their dreams. ? ?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, her fingers unbroken by the cascades of notes which composers like Earl Wild poured all over the page. 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. Listen: I can’t promise that this album is a medically viable substitute for, say, antidepressants or a loving companion, but 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.

– Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International

"After listening to the CD, one cannot help but wear a smile and tingle with goose bumps. Uplifting and effervescent." – Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet Read less