“…beautifully played by Lara Downes on an outstanding disc from the Postcards label.” – KDFC, San Francisco
With her debut Postcards Records recording, “Lara Downes: Invitation to the Dance”, classical pianist Lara Downes beckons you to the dance floor as she interprets works by 19th and 20th century masters, such as Frederic Chopin, Maurice Ravel, Carl Maria Von Weber, Samuel Barber, Alberto Ginastera, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, among others. This collection of solo pieces captures the spirit of ballet and the ballroom through the ages.
“A balletic keyboard reverie rendered with nuance and drama.” – Washington Post
“Pianist Lara Downes gave the striking impression of Clara Schumann’s alter ego… graceful and sparkling… a very impressive player.” – Hartford Courant
Lara Downes has been hailed as one of the most promising young classical pianists today, and her choice of repertoire runs from the traditional to the avant-garde. On this Postcards Records collection of solo Classical pieces by 19th and 20th century Masters, entitled “Lara Downes: Invitation to the Dance”, all the music relates to popular dances of their time, making the album a fascinating recap of where we’ve been on the dance floor for the last 200 years.
With her debut recording, pianist Lara Downes beckons you to the dance floor as she interprets works by 19th and 20th century masters. This collection of solo pieces captures the spirit of the ballroom through the ages, remarkably and passionately performed by one of today’s brightest talents.
|1. Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
|2. Invitation to the Dance
|(Carl Maria Von Weber)
|3. Danzas Argentinas
1. Danza del Viejo Boyero
2. Danza de la Moza Donosa
3. Danza del Gaucho Matrero
|4. La Valse
Choreographic poem for Orchestra transcribed for solo piano by the composer
|5. Bolero, Op.19
|6. Souvenirs, Op. 28
3. Pas de Deux
Lara Downes: Solo Piano
Produced by: Bob Karcy and Lara Downes
Liner notes by: Harris Goldsmith
Total Time: Approx 59 minutes
What the Critics Say:
“I listened to the album last night and it is absolutely fabulous!” – Victoria Voketaitis, Steinway Piano Artist Relations
“…Downes allows herself more dynamic freedom and a certain emotive abandon; she knows how to milk the sweetness from dissonant chords, but she’s quite at home in the barroom, thank you, and can handle any cowboy with her high-booted virtuosity and gaucho swagger. Here is technique so good you’re not even aware of it… and yet she never flaunts it, never gets in the way of the music… In Chopin’s obscure little bolero…we find all the hallmarks of instantaneous combustion at the keyboard… Downes plays this wonderfully, with just the right sensibility, never trying to make it more than it is… In these pieces, Downes really comes into her own, her musical instincts perfectly in tune with the composer’s… The considerable technical demands find her a full match in her edgy sense of rhythm and her flair for the sonorities of the writing…she is not only playing it, but feeling it, and the effect is visceral…beauty presented and played…the presentation, the playing, and the superb notes make for a definite “invitation” to dance further.” – Lynnda Greene, Fanfare Magazine
“…small town enormous talent…a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. What’s most impressive about this disc is its selection. Downes has assembled an eclectic collection of traditional and avant-garde pieces… She clearly shows that she was up to the task of condensing more than 100 years of style into one hour of interpretation… The latter portion of the disc highlights the true power and charm of the dance… My biggest problem with this disc was deciding which pieces I enjoyed most… I found the pleasant nature and light-hearted whimsy contained in Barber’s “Souvenirs” irresistible… Then again… why choose, when you can have ’em all?” – Davis Enterprise
“A magical little recording.” – WABE-FM, Atlanta, GA
“Great stuff! Will play it all.” – Minnesota Public Radio, St. Paul, MN
Samuel Barber: Souvenirs, Op. 28 (played Schottisch, Pas de Deux, Galop)
(Lara Downes, solo piano)
…Inspired by the “palm court” environments of early-century New York, Barber wrote his “Souvenirs” originally for piano duet, then revised them as the solo here presented by northern California keyboardist Lara Downes. This little label (Postcards) is up to good things, and the program here is an imaginative mix of additional rhythmical and colorful scored by Liszt, Weber, Ginastera, Ravel and Chopin. Very, very pleasing. – Michael Barone, Public Radio Music Source
About Lara Downes:
Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, a trailblazer both on and off the stage, whose musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family and collective memory. As a chart-topping recording artist, a powerfully charismatic performer, a curator and tastemaker, Downes is recognized as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.
Lara Downes has attracted attention as one of the most exciting and communicative young pianists of today’s generation, called “a most delightful artist, with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship” by National Public Radio, where she is currently the host of Amplify with Lara Downes… Her intense musicality, brilliant virtuosity and electrifying personality consistently thrill audiences at the world’s leading concert venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Salle Gaveau.
Lara’s recordings have met with great critical and public acclaim. Her debut CD on Postcards Records, “Invitation to the Dance”, was called “A magical little recording” by National Public Radio. Her second release, “American Ballads”, was ranked by Amazon.com among the four best recordings of American music ever made and was featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today”.
Downes’ forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, hailed by The Boston Globe as “a balm for a country riven by disunion.”
With a fierce commitment to arts advocacy, Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Rhiannon Giddens, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, folk icon Judy Collins, writer Adam Gopnik, and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, Paola Prestini, Clarice Assad, Michael Abels, and many others.