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She jingles those bells like you never heard before

The third of Slipped Disc’s seasonal singles comes from our recent Sifini session with Gabriela Montero, the US-based Venezuelan pianist and composer. ¬†Gabi kept asking for themes that she could fool around with. When someone suggested ‘Christmas’, here’s what came about – quite the most inspired rendition of the jingle single that has ever crossed our ears.

gabriela montero colours

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  1. crumbleaddict says:


  2. Too many notes and rather generic and bland.

    • Go on, let’s hear you. Conor.

      • Emil Archambault says:

        Now that’s a false argument. I thought that you, as a critic, would know to avoid it, Mr Lebrecht. One does not need to be able to play better in order to criticize, or else, there wouldn’t be any critics around.

        • It was an apt response to a mean put-down.

          • I am sorry for my unelaborated response. I respect her artistry as a pianist, but I do not personally particularly enjoy this kind of supposingly clever improvisation. If you didn’t hear the theme at the beginning, what followed could have been based on any of the many other pieces of music. The style didn’t seem as individual as some of the other jazz greats. There are many pianists out there (including many bar pianists) who can improvise as well as she did in the video in similar styles, and I simply didn’t think this video showcased the best of her. I apologise once again.

          • Apology accepted, Conor. I’ve never come across any classical pianist who can improvise like that. I’d be interested to know more. Mail me names privately, if you like.

    • Funny, that’s what the Emperor said about Mozart…
      Actually, this has a Scott Joplin quality to it; so perhaps it is a “Jingle Bells Rag”.

  3. Sam McElroy says:

    I don’t know what the matter is with people like ConorG. Is it impossible to just enjoy something fun and seasonal and fresh and inventive (not to mention the evident skill involved) without feeling the need to superimpose some denigrating little bitter comment? Maybe you could spend Christmas writing a thesis on it, to bore us all with in the dark days of January!

  4. “Too many notes…” isn’t that what the pompous emperor Joseph is supposed to have said to Mozart? This music made me smile, and not much does these days…

  5. As an improviser she’s up there with Keith Jarrett, although the style is different. She has structured this one really tightly into ternary form with 8-bar phrases, as opposed to Jarrett’s more meandering improvs. I like the Bachian middle section too, she does that beautifully. But forget the analysis – wow!

  6. Stephen Carpenter says:

    Not sure how critical one can be with improvisation since it’s created on the fly. I’m fascinated by her process. Would love to ask a few questions about how she processes, though as artists go, she probably can’t really articulate much and whatever it is she does, probably won’t work in a general sense. But I’m curious just the same to get a sense of what she sees when she looks up just at the end of stating the theme.
    This is performing without a net and what she does is truly courageous.

  7. She’s quite good with that. I’m willing to wager that those who condemn her rendition are not improvisers or composers themselves. I thought the Mozart quotation was extremely clever.

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