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Piano Pieces


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Russell Sherman is an internationally renowned classical pianist who has performed with the country's leading orchestras. He was born in New York City and lives in Lexington, Massachusetts. He teaches at the New England Conservatory.


Sherman is a concert pianist who teaches at the New England Conservatory. Here he offers a rambling collection of aphorisms or mini-essays that gives the impression of snatches one might hear while listening in on him giving piano lessons. Metaphor and simile abound: the hand is like a Spanish dancer, the hand is like a Ferris wheel; the score is a map, the score is the boss; playing the piano is like golfing, playing the piano is like hunting. There are also thoughts on the interpretation and the philosophy of music, as well as the nature of art, the problem of youth today, and so on. This book will appeal to those who enjoyed Sherman's appearance in The Not Quite Innocent Bystander (LJ 3/15/90), a book on his piano teacher, Edward Steuermann.‘Michael Colby, Univ. of California, Davis

Sherman is a noted concert pianist and music teacher who confesses, at the outset of this collection of observations on pianism, music in general and society at large, that he is lazy. Yet, he feels driven to offer "the diary of an old and unregenerate crust." The result is not so much an organized book as a collection of reflections and aphorisms arranged roughly into sections dealing with the essence of piano technique, the teaching of it, the world in which pianism is taught today and thoughts on works of the masters. Sherman is a man of considerable erudition and much wit, whose description of the pianist's finger functions is brilliant, both poetic and allusive. If in assessing the desired pianistic qualities he sometimes becomes too technical for most lay readers, this is redeemed by salty salvos at such bêtes noirs as piano competitions and electronic popular culture. He fears a whole generation is being lost to the pleasures of serious music, and only the current interest in environmentalism gives him the faintest hope for the future of the species. Reading a book in endless brief bites can be wearing, however, and it seems a pity that Sherman couldn't bring himself to put his very worthwhile thoughts into a more coherent, cohesive framework. (Apr.)

"Startling . . . Dreamily link observations about the experience of piano playing and a thousand other unexpected subjects." --The New Yorker"The most original and arresting and powerful pianist today." --Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe"I had always thought that words could not add very much value to music. But Piano Pieces opened both my eyes and my ears. Russell Sherman plays on the page with as much mastery as upon the keyboard. His writing is music, is melody, is counterpoint. On hears it even as one reads it. A tour de force. The passages on Chopin are particularly brilliant. Bravo!" --James Lord

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