A poet of popular music, November 1, 2005
Emile Pandolfi plays show tunes, movie music, and the Great American Song Book, like no one else. He even includes the occasional classical selection, which is inevitable, as he is a classically trained artist in the traditional sense. Pandolfi's dexterity at the keyboard is highly polished; yet one hardly notices. One does notice his gorgeous tone, which seemingly knows no depth; his pianissimo playing, which I can tell you, reaches all the way to the back of the hall; his massive fortissimos, which always leave the impression that he has more to give; his melting legato touch, which makes the piano sound like anything but a percussive instrument; and his seemingly limitless imagination.
Once you've heard Pandolfi's presentation of a song, it will be difficult for you to imagine it any other way. Partly, this results from his own imagination: he is able to listen to music and lyrics with such freshness, even to the punctuation of lyrics, that he understands what many of us pass over. Then, he brings the resources of his technique, his sound-all his musical training and experience-to bear on the story in his mind. But not just the story: the character of the story, the atmosphere of the story. The result is nothing short of a recreation of each song Emile Pandolfi plays, and that result is often very powerful.