NPR Music review

Angelica Sanchez – A Little House (CF 206)
The sound of a toy piano may conjure the magic and innocence of childhood: You see toy pianos in playrooms, not concert halls.

But John Cage wrote a suite for toy pianos in 1948. In 2001, a toy piano was a central part of the soundtrack for the French romantic comedy Amelie. Pop and rock musicians including Radiohead, Tom Waits and Lenny Kravitz have used toy pianos to accent their songs.

Weekend Edition Saturday asked Angelica Sanchez for a little lesson on the small keyboard. Sanchez is a jazz pianist and composer by trade; she usually dwells in New York’s downtown music scene. Her most recent album is titled A Little House, and it features original pieces written for toy piano.

Sanchez tells host Scott Simon that she came to the instrument by accident — she originally bought her own toy piano for her young son. But there was a duality to its special sound that she connected with.

“I was a big horror-movie fan growing up. The scariest part always had a toy piano or a glockenspiel in it,” she says. “But then there’s also this really gentle sound to it that makes you want to play lullabies.”

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