Last night I went to see Uri Caine in a solo piano concert at Stanford. Caine is a virtuoso classical and jazz pianist, jazz ensemble leader, composer, and classical music interpretter.
Caine performed an all Mahler program. My favorite was his interpretation of the Adagietto (fourth movement) of Symphony #5. (He also did movements from Sym. #1, #2, and #5.)
Caine's performance was electric, confident, searching, and playful. At times his playing is literal: he delicately picks out the notes like stars in the sky. But more often, his MO was to take Mahler's themes and run them through his vivid imagination to create a wild and moving amalgam of sounds and feelings. Thus, Caine is able to make Mahler sound like Fats Waller, Glenn Gould, PDQ Bach, and Keith Jarrett. A true tour de force.
The second half of his program was comprised of Caine's takes on Mahler lieder (from the Song of the Earth and The Boy's Magic Horn). He'd take a three minute song and run with it for ten minutes — entertaining the audience all the way with his variations. For example, in the "Farewell" song, he seamlessly brought Stravinsky and Mahler together in ways neither could have ever imagined.
I first became aware of Uri Caine a little over a year ago when I did a post on Bach's Goldberg Variations ("Waking Up with the Goldberg Variations"). One reader suggested that I check out Caine's interpretation of the Goldbergs. I did, and I was absolutely floored (and have listened to it scores of times since). I highly recommend it. Caine's rendition of Wagner is also worth listening to.
Thank you for a delightful evening, Uri.