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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

« E Pluribus Unum | Main | Musical snapshots »

July 26, 2005

French surprise

When I think back to our session with Jean-Yves, I always come up with the words "surprise and delight." We were all a little nervous about welcoming him to the studio and worked hard with Jean-Yves' manager to make sure the session details were correct: The piano was in great shape; we had his favorite food on-hand, etc. But when he arrived, it was really like the sun coming out from a cloud. He is such a happy man; I swear his eyes truly twinkle (and his accent is so charming).

Something else that twinkled was his remarkable array of jewelry that somehow seemed entirely appropriate to his personality. He takes it all off to play, of course, and we were more than a little astounded to see it all sitting in a little mound on the table right next to the coffee and sandwiches!

You'll hear in the program that he was quite relaxed during our session and felt entirely at ease. There is always some controversy when classical musicians play jazz and Jean-Yves' work is no exception. But you have to respect the sincerity and commitment he brings to this music. Tell us what you think….do classical musicians have to stick to the classical catalog?

Posted by Mary Lee at July 26, 2005 1:19 PM



I have listened to the program for years, programing changed, i moved to a differant city, thak god for the internet, i can continue to learn about music and enrich my soul with St Paul Sunday

By carolina delgado at July 28, 2005 10:51 AM


Great show with Jean-Yves today. Loved it! Who cares if it's not strictly a classical program? I'll bet Jean-Yves could play country or punk and make it sound great.
Stewart Winograd

By Stewart Winograd at July 31, 2005 10:03 AM


Another in a series of utterly fantastic and great programs that I work very hard to NOT miss, taping if necessary. Keep it up!!

By George Parkerson at July 31, 2005 10:04 AM


I heard your show with Jean-Yves Thibaudet today and wanted to share the audio with my family in an area where the local station doesnt have your program.

Your RealAudio links are "crossed".... As of 10am on Sunday the 31st, the audio for these shows are both the same file, both are the program from the 17th.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano July 31, 2005

Andrew Manze, Baroque violin; Richard Egarr, harpsichord July 17, 2005

Jean-Yves is nowhere to be found!! Can you please fix this?


By DakotaAviator at July 31, 2005 10:20 AM


If I were a church goer, I'd have been excommunicated years ago, because my Sunday mornings belong to St. Paul;'s. Today's with Thibaudet was just wonderful. can't get enough Satie in any case and Thibeaudet is a revelation.
Thank you and thank you for being there every Sunday.

By Adair Konrad at July 31, 2005 11:38 AM


J'adore! This made my Sunday...and I ordered two CD's!
Merci ,
Nancy mathieu

By Nancy Mathieu at July 31, 2005 12:32 PM


The piano music this morning was absolutely wonderful..I would never have known about this artist without this program. I'm purchasing a Jean-Yves Thibaudit CD today! Thank you.

By Jenny Quigley at July 31, 2005 12:40 PM


Rarely miss SPS, and have many favorite shows
from over the years . . .but Thibaudet's Satie/
Evans, et al connection may now be my all-time favorite
. . .a cathartic 'sunday service' for me . . .
listening on WKYU FM 88.9 out in the woods of
'my old Kentucky home' near Bowling Green,
and feeling that a part of me was also sipping coffee on Monmartre.

Thanks so much for the great trip this morning.

By John D. Mardis at July 31, 2005 1:12 PM


For the second Sunday in a row, you have made available the program with Andrew Manzie instead of the one listed for playing, which I have already called to your attention with no effect. I promise you I will send you no further notifications

By Bob at July 31, 2005 1:22 PM


Bob and Dakota Aviator,
I'll look into it immediately. Sorry you've been frustrated twice in two weeks!

By Mary Lee at July 31, 2005 4:47 PM


The program with Jean Yves was extraordinary. What a charming man and wonderful artist he is! Didn't know about his Bill Evans work before I heard your show. Now I must get the CD. Thanks.

By Elizabeth Garvey at July 31, 2005 10:03 PM


Absolutely an exquisite program! Satie and Bill Evans are two of the most creative and adventuesome composers and Jean Yves translates their compositions with a lovely fluid grace and much dignity and wisdom. I appreciated the new insight into Bill Evans and his musical history..."Peace" is joy.
A total suprise this Sunday morning full of pure musical love. Thank you from my heart.

By Ananya Fisher at July 31, 2005 10:48 PM


Your program raises-—at least at its edges-—the relationship between “classical” music and jazz, and touches briefly on some of the interrelationships. It’s a topic that’s rarely discussed on either side of the aisle-—borne, I think, by the ignorance that mutual isolation creates. To wit: there are very few musicians who play both art forms, and fewer still those that do it well (Wynton Marsalis and Keith Jarrett come to mind). Also, there are few musical scholars and critics who understand both. The NY Times, for example, has critics who cover classical music, but has no jazz critic. They delegate this job to their “popular” music critic Jon Pareles.

Worse, most discussions I’ve read are facile comparisons weighing in on which is the superior art form, or what debt jazz owes—-as its bastard child—-to classical for its birth.

In short, each medium has a different intent. Much of classical music is based on melody and harmonic structure. Jazz is based on rhythm and melody (in that order). Comparing the two is like comparing Renaissance painting to 20th century painting: da Vinci was using his medium in a far different way than Jackson Pollock.

You’ve made a great first step with this program. Perhaps you could invite Jarrett or Marsalis to the studio to delve into this divide in greater detail, and help bridge the gap.

John Niesyn
Fairfield, CT

By John Niesyn at July 31, 2005 11:10 PM


There are a great many jazz artists that seem to have great respect for classical music, but fewer classical players have the same respect for jazz. As a university classical piano major it was my experience that the "jazzers" were considered lesser despite the fact that many of them had classical "upbringings" and were more rounded as musician. There is something to be said of artists that can play these different types of music convincingly.

Years ago I heard a program on CBC Radio out of Canada that featured a recital of Canadian pianist Jon Kamura Parker. After completing the programmed works he came back to play an encore which to my surprise was Chick Corea's "Got a Match." It was phenomenal. In fact, I had even greater respect for him for being so daring and going against the grain so to speak.

Hearing Jean-Yves’ interpretations brought out the similarities between great improvisers like Bill Evans and composers like Erik Satie was enlightening. The beauty of it all is that Jean-Yves makes no apologies for his selections. It will take many more classical artists of his stature and brilliance to make these selections more common.

This album is on my to-get list. The "Peace Piece" has to be one of the most moving performaces I have ever heard. This week was the first time I've ever listened to St. Paul Sunday. I'm hooked already.

By Joe Portolese at August 1, 2005 8:51 AM


Thanks for all of the wonderful comments! By the way, I apologize for the frustration over audio. Preston fixed it this morning, I just checked if it would work on my computer, and you all should be able to listen to Peace Piece to your heart's desire from here on out. It is a stunning piece.

I'm fascinated by the John and Joe's discussion about the embittered cousins, jazz and classical music. Joe, you said that in your experience classical musicians have looked down on jazzers. Do you think it ever goes the other way? It seems often that classical players who try to play jazz or another form of music are criticized for being too stiff, unable to improvise, etc. I often think of classical music like ballet: you learn all the proper technique, discipline, and theory that will make you a better jazz player, or modern dancer. But I'm not an accomplished jazz pianist and certainly not a dancer, so this is just a theory. Do you agree? Have any of you successsfully crossed over to another genre or know of a musician (besides Thibaudet) who has?

By the way, Joe, since you're new to the program I want you to know that John Kimura Parker is one of our favorite guests. You can listen to his show with us here: http://saintpaulsunday.publicradio.org/listings/shows04_07.htm (scroll down to July 18).

By Suzanne Schaffer at August 1, 2005 9:44 AM


I think it does go both ways to some extent. Jazz musicians see classical players as uptight - we all know the stereotypes... I think jazzers are correct with their perception that classical players believe they are somehow "above" jazz. It doesn't help that we call classical music the great music ever written. We leave out the fact that all of the great composers were themselves incredibly gifted improvisers (Bach, Mozart, Mendelsohn to name a few). I always found it odd that in college - at least at the one I attended, the Hartt School of Music - jazz majors were required to take classical harmony and history, but classical players weren't required to take improvisation or jazz history. The history of jazz was discussed at length in our History of Western Music textbooks, but it was barely covered in class.

I wasn't pushed to improvise until late in my college years and I found it very difficult. Here I was playing Chopin Ballades, but I couldn't improvise over a simple I-IV-V blues. It was embarrasing to say the least. My musical upbringing may not have been like most, but I think there is definitely a gap in many classical musician's education if they aren't exposed to jazz or at least improvisation in general. We need more people like Parker and Thibaudet to bring down the barrier.

Joe Portolese
Brooklyn, NY

By Joe Portolese at August 1, 2005 10:44 AM


I only caught the last half-hour of the show, but it was revealing and enchanting. Bill Evan's "Peace Piece" gave me goose bumps. No small feat in an un-air-conditioned apartment on a hot summer's night in Manhattan. Merci, Jean-Yves!

By Lloyd Harris at August 1, 2005 10:52 AM


I enjoy St Paul Sunday very much. I am, however, confused about your web site. It states that artist information and performances are listed. I could only find artist information,(no scheduling information) Example; I want to know when Chanticleer is or was on the show. It does not say. Please help me. Keep up the great work! Mike Lovestrand

By Mike Lovestrand at August 1, 2005 11:31 AM


Mike, we have a whole new Web site coming this Fall that will help make it easier to find when an artist was on the show.

Try using the search engine at the top of this page.

By Preston Wright at August 1, 2005 3:05 PM


I missed Jean-Yves when the show aired last sunday. I'm now listening to the recording on this page.
All I can say about it is "Ahhh...." His playing is so relaxing. I'm really greatful for the accessablity of past shows that this website offers.

By John Delannoy at August 1, 2005 9:12 PM


Lots of us know that Thibaudet is one of the greatest living pianists. After falling in love with this artist, I once heard an interview in which V. Horowitz complimented his playing....who's to argue. Anyway, SPS and MPR are radio staples. Thanks for all you do to make life and listening so sweet.

By Ian Christensen at August 2, 2005 12:28 PM


I see someone replied to a post saying the website is being redesigned..maybe that will help to answer a question of mine..first, i did enjoy the show..i've been listening to a lot of satie recently, so it was really nice to hear a new piece of his..but i am a huge bill evans fan, so i *really* enjoyed the rendition of "peace piece" at the end of the show :) ..and can confirm that when evans recorded the improvisation back in december 1958..coincidently, on the day i was born..he was starting out to play "some other time" and just wandered off somewhere..in fact, evans did end up recording the bernstein tune later during the same session..both recordings are catalogued on a marvelous 12-disc set from evans' riverside years..produced, as bill mentioned during the show, by orrin keepnews..a must-have for any evans fan :)

..which brings me to my question..sometime in the last two years, bill did a show with a woman pianist, who also performed some bill evans music, including "peace piece" and possibly, if memory serves, "waltz for debbie" as well..any chance the site could be set up in a way to search for a particular piece/composer/performer? i've been poking around the site randomly, but can't seem to locate the show in question, and i don't remember the name of the performer..i'd love to compare the two versions..thanx for the wonderful music :)))

By Bill Heyer at August 4, 2005 4:27 AM


Dear Bill Heyer,

Thanks for writing.

I've checked the archives and don't think that other than Jean-Yves's broadcast we've done another program featuring music of Bill Evans. My hunch is that you could be referring to a program we did a number of years ago (longer ago than two) with the wonderful jazz pianist Marian McPartland (for which SPS was honored with a Peabody Award!).

Marian didn't play any Bill Evans, though; I list what she did play at the end of this post.

As far as our site's search engine goes, it should yield accurate results...if you run into problems, please let us know.

Kern: Sweet and Lovely
Kern: All the Things you are
Fischer: Pensativa
McPartland: Threnody
Mary Lou Williams: What's your story, Morning Glory
Williams: Mary's Waltz
Williams: Cloudy
Victor Herbert: Indian Summer
Coltrane: Naima
Alec Wilder: While we're young
Ellington: Prelude to a kiss
McPartland: Ambience
Kern: Long ago and far away
Victor Young: My foolish heart
Conrad Robinson: Singin' the blues

By Vaughn Ormseth at September 14, 2005 4:31 PM