The Brothers Balliett Book of Preludes Vol. 1

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The Piano's Been Drinking

What is a prelude? There are many conceptions and definitions floating around out there, but the Brothers Balliett define it as a short instrumental work that explores one musical concept or idea. This week's show curates a brand new book of preludes in the tradition of Debussy and Scriabin—mostly new works for solo piano, but also other intriguing pieces that could qualify as a prelude, including works for organ, guitar choir, and mixed Renaissance instruments.

Focusing on particularly exciting and groovy work, this week's show opens with a Prelude-Fanfare composed specifically for the Brother's show by Austrian composer-cellist Leo Bartussek for viola d'amore, psalter, and fortepiano. We'll hear startlingly cool music from American pianist-composer Craig Taborn that'll make you feel like you're at the Stone and at the Blue Note at the same time.

From Francois Dompierre and David Chesky we enter the world of boogie-woogie and ragtime, respectively. Harvard composer Carson Cooman is represented with an organ canzona that acknowledges the past and predicts the future, and Andrew McKenna Lee offers a gorgeous Prelude for multiple guitars titled Dying in Waves. Closing the show is music from Niccolo Castiglione, the Italian savant who chooses all the right notes.

With pithy insight from the Brothers Balliett, this brand new book of Preludes will make you throw your Debussy in the trash. Not really, obviously. But we think this book can at least sit on the shelf next to it.