When it comes to crafting an established repertoire within the modern classical music genre, there are very few nooks and crannies left to find your way into; in Elizabeth Sombart’s position, there’s no need or desire to be niche — she has made a career out of tackling some of the biggest names known to modern classical music and she’s done it well! Her latest album, a collection of Chopin’s Nocturnes released under the title Singing the Nocturnes, sees Sombart dabbling in two hours’ worth of material, with a total of 21 tracks. Some are as iconic as classical music gets, such as “Nocturnes, Op. 9: II. Andante in E-Flat Major,” and Sombart’s attention to detail does the masters proud. It’s not every day we’re treated to an artist as storied and as talented as Elizabeth Sombart, but when we are… it’s best to sit down and simply listen.
Sombart is unlike most classically trained pianists working today; she has been working at her craft since the age of seven, for instance, and hasn’t had a moment’s rest since in the best ways. She frequents less fortunate areas, sharing her wealth of knowledge and skill with anyone unable to pursue music themselves, and even established a Foundation in 1998 that allows such individuals to learn the piano, regardless of age, skill, or background, in a much more lenient way than academia. Her philanthropy bleeds into her music, and vice versa, and fans of either walk of Sombart’s life will certainly appreciate the way she presents herself to the world. An admirable life is one worth envying, and one often far easier to look at than to live, but Sombart pulls it off gracefully.
In addition to the iconic works of Chopin most recently, Sombart has been known to cover a wide breadth of classical music. The obvious choices of Beethoven and Mozart stand out, but there are plenty of instances of classic composers such as Schubert mixed into the discography as well. With a catalog as deep and expansive as hers, there’s plenty of room for the mainstream, easy choices as there are the composers less traveled. No matter the name or recognition, Elizabeth Sombart approaches each album of hers with grace and a humble, professional demeanor. It always comes off as effortless, but the years of talent and regimented practice are undeniable.
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As it is, Singing the Nocturnes is a sensational addition to Sombart’s expanding discography and professional portfolio. Chopin’s work brings a lilting sensibility to the piano that many have mimicked to greater or lesser success and being able to swim within his compositions as Sombart acts out the part of the vessel, her intricate fingers delivering on every level, is a revelation necessary to the incoming autumn weather. I do not doubt that Elizabeth Sombart is quite far from retiring, and that her already historic output will only grow with the years, but for now, living in the world of Chopin is a wonderful note to rest upon.