Fresh Air has played host to some legendary in-studio performances by some of the world's greatest pianists. This collection includes Harry Connick, Jr., Regina Spektor, Jon Batiste and others tickling the ivories and talking about the music the make.
Music came naturally to Jon Batiste, the leader of Stay Human, the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Growing up outside of New Orleans as part of a large musical family, he says, "I picked up on all of these things that are integral to who I am as a musician without necessarily studying them."
Classical pianist and conductor Murray Perahia has a new CD: Chopin Etudes: Opus 10, Opus 26. He also explored the music of J.S. Bach in recent recordings, including Bach's Keyboard Concertos vol. 1 which he recorded and conducted with the St. Martin in the Fields ensemble. And he recorded the Goldberg Variations and Bach's complete English Suites. In 1994 Perahia suffered a thumb injury that left him unable to play regularly for a year. He took up his first conducting post as principal guest conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
The pianist's new album features some of the most difficult etudes ever written for solo piano by the Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti. "Ligeti took the piano to places it had never been before," he says, "and makes demands of the pianist and the mind that had never been made before."
A live concert with New Orleans songwriter, pianist and singer Allen Toussaint. Toussaint has performed extensively as a session pianist and producer and has written dozens of hits for New Orleans groups like The Nevilles, Irma Thomas, for Paul McCartney, The Wild Tchoupitoulas and The Meters. (Rebroadcast. Originally broadcast on Friday, May 27, 1988.)
Spektor spent the first nine years of her life in the Soviet Union, where she and her family faced discrimination as Jews. She talks about Russia and her new album, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, with Terry Gross.
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis come from different generations, but both play the old style of country music — her brother is Jerry Lee Lewis. They share songs and stories from their new album, Wild! Wild! Wild!
Afghan British journalist Najibullah Quraishi has had trouble sleeping for more than two hours a stretch ever since the U.S. withdrew troops from Afghanistan in August and the Taliban came back into power. Quraishi grew up in Afghanistan under Soviet and Taliban rule, and began reporting on the Taliban before the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks and the onset of the U.S. Afghan war. He's currently in Kabul reporting for his upcoming PBS Frontline documentary, Taliban Takeover, (airing Oct. 12) which details life in Afghanistan now.