Birge's Picks

Lenny’s letters

Leonard Bernstein Thomas R. Seiler/Deutsche Grammophon

April 25, 2022

This week’s picks include one fond remembrance and two great pianists.

At the Dakota in Minneapolis Tuesday night, it’s Dear Lenny: Bernstein’s Life in Songs & Letters, a tribute from Dan Chouinard, Prudence Johnson, Bradley Greenwald and Liz Hawkinson. Bernstein’s music is woven together with candid correspondence from Aaron Copland, Steven Sondheim, Jacqueline Kennedy, Jerome Robbins and Bette Davis. It also includes songs from West Side Story.

One of the finest Bernstein tributes in recent memory came from the genius jazz pianist Bill Charlap on his album, Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein. Charlap is performing at the Hopkins Center for the Arts on Saturday with the sensational singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. Run don’t walk.

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin’s itinerary this spring includes concerts in Berlin, London, Amsterdam and Austin, Minnesota! The Austin Symphony acquired a new grand piano made by Fazioli, a boutique maker favored by many concert pianists. To inaugurate the instrument, Hamelin will perform Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto on Sunday afternoon, followed Monday by a solo recital at Austin High School that includes Beethoven’s massive Hammerklavier Sonata. That should leave plenty of time to visit the SPAM museum.