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The Chagall Suite

A commissioned 8-movement piano piece inspired by Marc Chagall's artworks, and a tribute to Chagall and Elvis


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Translation by Dan White of Peter Lorber's review of my concert in Siegburg, Germany

An International Star Free of Affectation
The pianist Seth Weinstein brought inspiration with his own compositions

By Peter Lorber

SIEGBURG. Already when he was five years old Seth Weinstein began to play the piano; three years later he studied composition. After another five years his first orchestral work was premiered by the school orchestra. The American's career was marked out; there followed graduation with distinction from Harvard University, where he was initiated into musicís sublime domains by Ivan Tcherepnin.

In the City Museum on Friday evening the international star furnished insights into his virtuosic ability, but without any trace of mannerisms. On the contrary, contact with the audience in the hall seemed extremely important to him, and he always had time for eye contact and some smiles during his complex performance. Much to the pleasure of the host, the Organization to Benefit the Memorial to Jews of the Sieg region and the vice district executive, Countess Uta Strachwitz, who at the outset reflected upon the significance of music for bringing people together.

In the midpoint of Weinstein's concert stood his two compositions, "Conversations" and "Chagall Suite." While the first illuminated all facets of communication and proceeded in like measure loudly, tenderly, dreamily, and impulsively, in the suite he applied a tonal technical palette to themes which the Belorussian also worked through in his art. As in the first movement Vitebsk, the city of his [Chagall's] birth, where the sun rises with a sleepy melody, the course of the day is represented by vivid intonations, and the evening is described with moderate touch. Most splendidly colorful was the theme "Circus," where Weinstein produced sound associations with various animals, the clowns and the performers with playful dissonances, powerful chords, or flowing passages. The theme "Lovers and Flowers" then sounded like a love song, while "Paris" seemed to be promotional music for the city on the Seine, full of color, radiance, and eroticism.

Naturally the American of Jewish descent masters the classical genre, as he demonstrated with Beethoven's magnificent "Moonlight Sonata" or Mozart's lighthearted "Hunt Sonata." Here he finely crowned his lucid and direct performance with repeated thunderous passages and cascading trills.