The Etudes Project, Volume One: ICEBERG

The Etudes Project, Volume One: ICEBERG


Artist: Jenny Lin

Composers: Drake Andersen, Victor Baez, Stephanie Ann Boyd, Alex Burtzos, Unsuk Chin, Yu-Chun Chien, Frederic Chopin, Derek Cooper, Claude Debussy, Philip Glass, Max Grafe, Will Healy, Toshio Hosokawa, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jonathan Russ, Alexander Scriabin, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Harry Stafylakis

Format: 1 CD


Pre-order now. Available October 25, 2019.

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étude [‘ā-,tüd], noun
1 : a piece of music for the practice of a point of technique
2 : a composition built on a technical motive but played for its artistic value
(Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

The term étude first started to turn up in musical literature in the late 1700s, and came into common usage in the first half of the 19th century—either because of, or in close proximity to, the Paris Conservatoire, where the form was polished and promulgated. The notion of a piece of music exactingly engineered to promote some specific aspect of technique was nothing new; in her public presentations of “The Etudes Project,” pianist Jenny Lin traces the concept back to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Clavier-Übung, four volumes of keyboard exercises published between 1726 and 1741— the final volume known more widely as the “Goldberg” Variations. A certain degree of rigor is embedded into the concept: the word étude translates as “study,” and most early examples of the genre favor praxis over poetry. But with the advent of Chopin and Liszt, with their astonishing technical skills and abundant imaginations, the étude would transcend its workmanlike origin. The genre characteristically would remain a test of manual dexterity. But increasingly, the challenge intrinsic to the étude was not only to strengthen a particular technique or skill, but also to transform a practical exercise into a pleasing utterance: the concert étude, as the form would become known.

Countless composers have risen to the challenge of the étude. This album, the first documentation of a sweeping project conceived by Lin, includes some of the most famous examples—Debussy, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Messiaen, Ligeti, and Glass—alongside equally noteworthy contributions to the format by such mavericks as Ruth Crawford Seeger, Toshio Hosokawa, and Unsuk Chin. Lin further pairs each of her canonical selections with an entirely new work by a member of ICEBERG New Music, a determinedly heterodox collaborative of 10 gifted young composers who represent a broad range of stylistic inclinations, but who are united by their enduring faith in substance and craft.

Bucking a current fad, the new études were not proposed as sequels or responses to existing works. Lin simply asked the ICEBERG composers to challenge her, and then used her own 4 5 keen ear and sure instincts to find sympathetic pairings. Driving rhythms and rich harmonies link pieces by Alex Burtzos and Chopin. Rangy scatterings of notes present a frolicsome affinity between Victor Baez and Unsuk Chin. Stephanie Ann Boyd and Debussy both deploy dreamy arpeggios in rippling waves; and so on. In each case, hearing the new piece enhances your understanding of the older one—and vice versa.

Identifying affinities among old and new music, and among familiar and unknown pieces, is a knack Lin has demonstrated again and again throughout her career—and it’s part of what makes her not only a persuasive interpreter, but also an invaluable guide and companion. Stated simply: you are in extraordinarily sure hands, here.

—Steve Smith


ICEBERG New Music is a collective of ten young composers based in New York City. Their mission is to promote the idea that substance, not surface, is the heart of music creation and perception. The collective’s members hail from different schools of thought and cultivate radically different sounds—from musical theater and indie rock to avant-garde sounds and electronic installations—but their contrasting musical languages belie a shared emphasis on structure and depth of meaning. When the ICEBERG composers write for the same ensemble or present their works as part of a joint project, the result is a glimpse into the ever-widening possibilities of art music in the twenty-first century.

ICEBERG is committed to excellence of craft, inclusiveness of style, and educational outreach on behalf of the new music community. They produce numerous events each season, partnering with some of the country’s top ensembles to create programs that are innovative, diverse, and listener-oriented. In demand nationally and internationally, ICEBERG has presented concerts and public-oriented educational workshops across North America. In 2018, ICEBERG unveiled its Young Composer Award, a scholarship fund aimed at pre-collegiate composers from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds.

ICEBERG composers are
Drake Andersen —
Victor Baez —
Stephanie Ann Boyd —
Alex Burtzos —
Yu-Chun Chien —
Derek Cooper —
Max Grafe —
Will Healy —
Jonathan Russ —
Harry Stafylakis —

Jenny Lin

Jenny Lin is one of the most respected young pianists today, admired for her adventurous programming and charismatic stage presence. She has been acclaimed for her “remarkable technical command” and “a gift for melodic flow” by The New York TimesThe Washington Post praises “Lin’s confident fingers… spectacular technique… “, “…surely one of the most interesting pianists in America right now…” and Gramophone Magazine has hailed her as “an exceptionally sensitive pianist”. Her orchestral engagements have included the American Symphony Orchestra, NDR and SWR German Radio orchestras, and Orchestra Sinfonica Nationale della RAI. Her concerts have taken her to Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center’s Great Performers, SF Jazz, MoMA, Stanford LIVE, and National Gallery of Art, appearing at Festivals such as Mostly Mozart, BAM’s Next Wave, Spoleto USA, Kings Place London, Chopin Festival Austria, and Schleswig-Holstein Festival Germany. Since 2014, she has joined Philip Glass in his ongoing world tour of his Etudes.  

Jenny’s extensive discography includes critically acclaimed recordings on Steinway & Sons, hänssler CLASSIC, eOne Records, BIS Records, Albany Records, and Sunrise Records. Since 2000, she has over thirty albums to her credit. A passionate advocate for education, Jenny created “Melody’s Mostly Musical Day,” a musical picture book for children following the adventures of an imaginative little girl from breakfast to bedtime, told in a collection of 26 classical piano works from Mozart to Gershwin. She is the central figure in Cooking for Jenny by Elemental Films, a musical documentary portraying her journey to the north of Spain and meeting with composer Javier López de Guereña for the preparation of the world premiere of his piano concerto ZAHARA.

Born in Taiwan and raised in Austria, Jenny studied with Noel Flores at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, with Julian Martin at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and with Dominique Weber in Geneva. She has also worked with Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, and Blanca Uribe, and with Dimitri Bashkirov and Andreas Staier at the Fondazione Internazionale per il pianoforte in Como, Italy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in German Literature from Johns Hopkins University and currently resides in New York City. Jenny Lin is a Steinway Artist.

Track List

Max Grafe
1. Accretion (2018) 2:19
Olivier Messiaen
2. Quatre Etudes de rythme I “Ile de feu” (1949) 2:22

Victor Baez
3. Etude No. 1 “Corona” (2018) 2:43
Unsuk Chin
4. Etude No. 6 “Grains”  (2000) 4:16

Yu-Chun Chien
5. To the Convergence (2018) 2:26
Toshio Hosokawa
6. Etude for Piano I “2 Lines” (2011) 3:45

Will Healy
7. Etude for Melancholy Robots: III. Trains (2018) 3:54
György Ligeti
8. Etude No. 1 “Désordre” (1985) 2:31

Derek Cooper
9. Etude No. 1 “Unleashed” (2018) 2:29
Ruth Crawford Seeger
10. Study in Mixed Accents (1930) 1:14

Stephanie Ann Boyd
11. “Lilac” (from Flower Catalogue) (2018) 3:22
Claude Debussy
12. Etude No. 11 “Pour les arpèges composés” 4:56

Drake Andersen
13. Walk (2018) 2:36
Alexander Scriabin
14. Etude Op. 8 No. 2 2:16

Harry Stafylakis
15. Obstinata 1: Barbed Wire (2018) 4:18
Sergei Rachmaninoff
16. Etude-Tableaux Op.33 No.4 in D Minor 3:36

Jonathan Russ
17. Knuckles (2018) 3:31
Philip Glass
18. Etude No. 13 (1994) 3:57

Alex Burtzos
19. Should the Wide World Roll Away (2018) 3:36
Frederic Chopin
20. Etude Op. 10 No. 4 2:15

Total time: 62:33
Release date: October 25, 2019
UPC: 053479223623

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…pianist Jenny Lin may have established herself with the most imaginatively conceived program of the year… Anyone lucky enough to have been there … will probably agree that this was a recital that will not easily be forgotten.
— The San Francisco Examiner

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