Arts Blog

Anthony De Mare: Re-Imagining Sondheim

Anthony De Mare has been on a journey of discovery and affirmation.  For the past several years, the pianist has been celebrating the extraordinary music of what he calls “one of our greatest American composers”, Stephen Sondheim.  And he’s taking dozens of today’s top composers along with him on this journey.  Fittingly, as Sondheim draws from the worlds of classical and jazz to perfectly express what I call the “psychology” of his characters, De Mare has found composers who acknowledge that Sondheim has been a big influence on their own lives, and bring something of themselves in “re-imagining” Sondheim for the piano.

De Mare (pronounced “deh MAR”), who’s already been in Portland (2011, with Portland Piano International), has received interpretations of Sondheim’s songs from the likes of Steve Reich and William Bolcom, to Wynton Marsalis (from the world of jazz and classical, really), to film composer Thomas Newman, and younger talents from indie and pop genres (Ethan Iverson, Duncan Sheik).  De Mare wanted them to not deconstruct the pieces – although Iverson does, to some extent, with Send in the Clowns – but to either expand on them, or to emphasize some aspect of the musical material.  I greatly enjoyed the treatment that Duncan Sheik, Thomas Newman and Mark-Anthony Turnage gave to the songs of “Sweeney Todd”, which helped to whet my appetite for Portland Opera’s production next summer.

Sondheim can be heard, through the interpretations of these 36 composers, to be the genius that he is.  Click on the link to enjoy my conversation, with musical examples, of Anthony De Mare sharing his passion for the music of Stephen Sondheim, on this new ECM release.

Liaisons: Re-imagining Sondheim From The Piano – Anthony De Mare
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