Noise Pollution Allegation against Spanish Pianist


This BBC headline caught my attention: “Spanish pianist faces jail over noise pollution claims”.  What?  A pianist?  I can understand if it were heavy metal thrashers, or a kid with a guitar and a loud amp.  But a classical pianist? There must be something more to the story.  Turns out that there was a heated dispute between neighbors.  One apparently did not appreciate hearing the other practice 8 hours a day for years.  The article doesn’t give too many details except that the family of the pianist tried to sound proof their apartment. The “music critic” neighbor is suing the pianist to collect damages for prolonged exposure to noise pollution.

Could this pianist be such a bad player to have caused her neighbor so much suffering? What was she playing all those years? I have to confess that I like classical piano music, but there are some composers of it that I do not like, and one happens to be Joaquin Rodrigo, himself a Spaniard and world class pianist.  His music really is pretty out there in terms of accessibility.  I wonder if this budding noise polluter was banging out Rodrigo pieces 8 hours a day?  Another composer I am not in the least fond of is Liszt.  His stuff is virtuosic rubbish in my opinion and  it would be torture for me to be a captive listener for 8 hours a day.

If I were a conflict negotiator for the feuding neighbors, I would suggest that the pianist take requests.  Surely there’s some musical compromise possible here.  Everyone likes a little Chopin, right? I would recommend that the pianist play a Nocturne just before bedtime twice a week and alternate with the meditative and relaxing sounds of Ravel and Debussy on the other nights.  During the day, I would propose Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier which is perfect practice music and quite soothing.  If the complaining neighbor were not a classical music fan, I’d suggest Elton John or Billy Joel; if partial to jazz, Herbie Hancock or Bill Evans might help bring about peace.  Herbie Hancock actually is a peace ambassador to Japan.

I think the feud is all a big misunderstanding.  The two could be best of friends really if they just tried.  The pianist could even offer piano lessons.  Before long, they could be a famous duo playing Schubert: Piano Music for Four Hands.  And wouldn’t that be grand!

PS:  If you hit the links, they take you to Spotify where you can listen to any of the music I referenced here for free.  It’s well worth the minute or so it takes to sign up.  You can keep the free account or upgrade to a paid account.  I do not work for Spotify and am not paid a penny to say any of this.  I’m just a fan.

What’s It All About – Pat Metheny’s Latest

When I heard about this one, I didn’t know what to think.  Pat playing tunes from the 60’s and 70’s, and not his own?  What?  And just Pat, sans group, trio and bots.

Wow.  Pat playing the Carpenters Rainy Days and Mondays?  I would have never admitted it until now that I used to love that song as a kid.  It’s locked into my memory for instant recall, sometimes irritatingly so.  And I would never in a million years have guessed it was one of Pat’s favorites.  I guess I thought Pat only ever listened to jazz and classical for inspiration.  Pat once admitted in an interview that he missed the whole rock-in-roll scene completely when he started playing guitar as a teenager.  However, he must have been listening to the radio a lot as a kid before he began playing guitar.  And this is evident in some of his selections on the record.  Pat’s spin on Rainy Days is nothing short of brilliant on the baritone guitar.  Pat likes to include snipits of his own work sometimes on new tunes, but on this song, he includes a phrase from Midnight Cowboy – listen for it near the end of the song.  There are some other songs along these lines that I would love to hear Pat interpret including Alone Again, Naturally and Starry Starry Night.

Chrerish.  I’m old enough to remember this song too and it’s one of my favorite tunes from the record.  Pat’s interpretation is beautiful, as you might expect – very true to the original melody playing it with the utmost respect adding only a few touches that make it his own as only Pat can do.  I cherish the song even more after hearing Pat’s version.

Garota de Ipanema.  If I had to name a favorite, it’d be this one.  I think partly because it is my favorite original tune of the lot.  Pat significantly reinvents this one as to be nearly unrecognizable from the original if you’re not paying close attention.  He uses pauses throughout which gives it a distinctly dramatic and melancholic feel. His flourish of harmonics at the end provide the song a beautifully haunting coda; there’s a longing there, as if a couple were slowing releasing a hand holding grip as they parted, knowing it would be the last time they’d ever be together.

On the Beatles tune, And I Love Her,  Pat gives an upbeat take on the original which to me had a much more nostalgic tone.  I like both versions very much.  I’d like to hear Pat’s take on Blackbird for a future recording or at least a future sound check if he hasn’t already.

There are a number of other songs on the album all equally compelling including the jazz standard ’round Midnight, that will no doubt put a smile on John McLaughlin’s face when he hears it; Alfie, the mesmerizing take on a brilliant composition by Burt Bacharach; Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence played on a 42-string Pikasso guitar and Carly Simon’s classic, That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be.  Each song is beautifully interpreted and masterfully performed.

Another must buy CD from one of the great American artists of the 20th and 21st century.  Thanks Pat!