Classical Session: Vanessa Wagner

Classical Session: Vanessa Wagner

Vanessa Wagner taps into her love of contemporary minimalist music in her Classical Session. It’s a love that has only recently developed after years of performing ‘standard’ repertoire. “I discovered the universe of Glass, Reich, and Adams a long time ago,” Wagner tells Apple Music, “but I didn’t play them right away. I started exploring this music in 2016 on my album Statea.” Since then, Wagner has been on the hunt for new pieces, especially those that are rarely performed. “I find a wonderful, expressive palette in this music,” she says. Wagner’s program begins with Lullaby by Bryce Dessner, guitarist with the band The National and an acclaimed composer. “Bryce sent me this short piece which was written for a friend who had twins,” says Wagner, “In it, he manages to navigate through several universes.” Wagner also performs two pieces by Philip Glass—“Dead Things,” from Glass’ soundtrack to The Hours, and the Etude No. 12. “The Etude is one of my favorites,” reveals Wagner. “It’s still and vibrant, and has a kind of restless sweetness that transports me every time.” There’s music, too, by Kate Moore, a young Australian composer whose rippling Spin Bird, says Wagner, is “full of anguish, like a heavy sky in which blackbirds might fly.” And rounding off this Classical Session is Wagner’s own solo piano arrangement of Meredith Monk’s Gotham Lullaby. “In the original version, Monk usually sings this piece while accompanying herself on the piano,” says Wagner. “It’s like music that has lived in the past centuries, and that we pass on through time. I hear the voice of all the women of the world through this song—a song of love, tenderness, and freedom.”

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