Anne Akiko Meyers “Serenades” with passion
American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers recently visited us at All Classical Portland, as part of her performance with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade (After Plato’s “Symposium”). Just before her arrival, Anne and I spoke by phone about “Serenade: The Love Album” (Released on the Entertainment One label), which features that very work by Bernstein, and an “exploration of love in all its dimensions”, to borrow her words. It’s a disc that certainly expresses love in all its many forms from beginning to end, and does it well.
Bernstein’s Serenade is inspired by Plato’s Symposium, effectively the description of a big “party” between Plato and philosophers who came before him; an imaginary bacchanal that probes deep questions about the nature of love. Bernstein’s piece is for violin and orchestra, but is not a concerto: it’s an expression of what the composer found in the writings of Plato.
Following this exuberant and, as Ms. Meyers’ admits, very challenging work (challenging to perform, not to listen to), the violinist plays eleven gorgeous melodies from stage and screen, all arranged by contemporary composers who put their mark on the pieces, but retained the original intent of the songs. “When You Wish Upon A Star”, originally from Disney’s “Pinocchio”, is one of the highlights of this sequence for me. Meyers plays the piece with sentiment, but not in an overly sentimental way (if that makes sense!). In my conversation with Anne, you’ll hear this melody, and as you listen to All Classical Portland, you’ll encounter more of these deftly-crafted arrangements.
Anne was a great joy to talk to, and I hope that we have the opportunity to have her back in Portland in the near future.
Anne Akiko Meyers: Serenade – The Love Album