Friday, April 29, 2005

Classical Pianist Goes Hip-Hop and Then Some

A interesting profile of a young pianist who seeks to combine the best of hip-hop, classical, and jazz elements into one attractive package:

"Kim, who was trained as a classical pianist, said he started looking to other musical forms to reach more of the public.

"I realized I had all these chops and people weren't going to hear my music. People aren't going to the concert halls. Musicians get more technical and alienate the audience even more. I realized it was a dead end for me," he said." Link

More infor and vid clip can be found here

The Chopin International: Contestants Announced

"A record number of 350 pianists from 47 countries have sent their applications to the organizers of the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw.

Japan leads the field with 79 applications, followed by Poland with 60, the United States with 25 and Russia with 20. A final selection of entrants will be made at the end of September.

The Competition begins on October 2. Founded in 1937, the Chopin Competition in Warsaw is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious events of its kind. Past winners of the event include Garrick Ohlsson, Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman." Link.

Well Tempered Blog's favorite to win: Vassily Primakov. More Primakov info/sounds here.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pope's Piano: What a Headache!

The man recently elected to sit on Peter's throne has a problem. His beloved piano will not fit into the Papal Apartments.

"Italy’s ANSA news agency reported yesterday that the desperate movers of the new pontiff are now considering dismantling the large musical instrument and putting it back together in the Apostolic Palace.

The movers tried to transport the piano from the Pope’s old apartment near the Vatican on Monday evening, but it was too large to pass through the staircase reaching the third-floor apartment - or the window."

Seems as though a miracle might be in order, eh? Read the rest of it here.

Danger ! Falling Pianos

"Last Thursday night, Bakerites gathered together to celebrate a long-lost MIT tradition - the Baker House Piano Drop, which has been held sporadically over the years on Drop Day, the university's final deadline for dropping classes. The last known piano drop was in 1998"

Read the rest of it here.

Attracted and repulsed by idea of dropping a pianos. It's sort of sad to thing about a piano falling and crashing into bits. But, at the same time, you can help but want to see it. No?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pianist Turns the Tables

Review of pianist Bruce Levingston's recital and premiere of a new work by Philip Glass. The review of the new Glass is glowing, but seems otherwise less than enthusiastic though solidly approving of the rest of Levingston's recital.

Key graf:

"The Glass was notably less portraitlike than its companions. "Mephisto" and "Ondine" undeniably paint portraits. Mr. Glass's work is more a tip of the hat. But it offered a glimpse of something new from Mr. Glass, or at least its first movement did. In both movements Mr. Glass draws on his stock figures, including scales and undulating minor thirds, and a few frequently used chord progressions. But in the first movement, which is meant to suggest Mr. Close in the early 1960's, when Mr. Glass met him, those elements are dressed in uncharacteristic dissonances, and they move briskly among figures. The second movement, meant to portray the mature Mr. Close, is more conventionally diatonic and repetitive."

Slog thru the rest of Kozinn's review here.

More about Levingston here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Apes Take to the Keyboard: The World of BioMusic

At the nexus of communication and music, enters a monkey.. or two. Recently musician Peter Gabriel has teamed up with scientists to explore the musical inclinations of apes:

"Gabriel said in a telephone interview last week that he has no doubt the bonobos have a sense of music and composition...In a video that has not been made public because of copyright issues, Gabriel and his band interacted musically with the bonobos; each ape got a turn to play a keyboard along with music Gabriel was playing from an adjoining room...Patricia Gray is a professional pianist as well as a clinical professor and senior resident scientist of biomusic at the Music Research Institute, a new center at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro. She did a technical analysis of Panbanisha's improvised composition with Gabriel and was startled at how well the bonobo played. Biomusic is the study of how various species use sound to communicate." Read the rest of it here.

"Will Serious Music Become Extinct?"

This is the question renowed Peter Maxwell Davies posed in recent Royal Philharmonic lecture. The full run-down is nicely covered over at the always engaged blog "On An Overgrown Path" (which, btw, is the title of one Janacek's best piano works).

Sir Davies' lecture can be found here. Read more about it here On an Overgrown Path.

And while surfing about, check out this fine recording of the Janacek work.
Link - amazon

"In Weimar with Liszt"

An interesting reprint made availabe by Cornell University of a 19th Century young lady's letters relating her impression of the great pianist/composer Franz Liszt.

Read it here

Piano Mastery by Harriette Brower: Talks with Master Pianists and Teachers

This chestnut from the past has been released (as an e-book) by the good folks at Project Gutenberg. Many of this pianists are long forgotten, except for a few devoted hardcore pianophiles. Some of the ideas are dated. But as a whole it provides much food for thought, sparks ideas, and provides an important window into the history and geneaology of modern pianism.

Table of contents:


ERNEST SCHELLING.....The Hand of a Pianist
ERNESTO CONSOLO.....Making the Piano a Musical Instrument
SIGISMOND STOJOWSKI.....Mind in Piano Study.
RUDOLPH GANZ.....Conserving Energy in Piano Practise
TINA LERNER.....An Audience the Best Teacher
ETHEL LEGINSKA.....Relaxation the Keynote of Modern Piano Playing
BERTHA FIERING TAPPER.....Mastering Piano Problems
CARL M. ROEDER.....Problems of Piano Teachers
KATHARINE GOODSON.....An Artist at Home
MARK HAMBOURG.....Form, Technic, and Expression
TOBIAS MATTHAY.....Watching the Artist Teacher at Work
HAROLD BAUER.....The Question of Piano Tone
RAOUL PUGNO.....Training the Child
THUEL BURNHAM.....The "Melody" and "Coloratura" Hand
EDWIN HUGHES.....Some Essentials of Piano Playing
FERRUCCIO BUSONI.....An Artist at Home
ADELE AUS DER OHE.....Another Artist at Home
ELEANOR SPENCER.....More Light on Leschetizky's Ideas
ARTHUR HOCHMAN.....How the Pianist Can Color Tone with Action and Emotion
TERESA CARREÑO.....Early Technical Training
WILHELM BACHAUS.....Technical Problems Discussed
ALEXANDER LAMBERT.....American and European Teachers
FANNIE BLOOMFIELD ZEISLER.....The Scope of Piano Technic
AGNES MORGAN.....Simplicity in Piano Teaching
EUGENE HEFFLEY.....Modern Tendencies
GERMAINE SCHNITZER.....Modern Methods in Piano Study
OSSIP GABRILOWITSCH.....Characteristic Touch on the Piano
HANS VON BÜLOW.....Teacher and Interpreter
POSTLUDE.....Vital Points in Piano Playing

Dowload or Read it Online here.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Talent and Determination

A remarkable story of talent and determination:

""People look at my life and my music and they see what I’m doing with my abilities, in spite of my disability, and think, ‘If he can accomplish this with his blindness and at 19 years old, what can I do with my life?’ "...MacIntyre has recorded five CDs. His first three were classical; the fourth, "My Guarantee," was a Christian contemporary album in a poprock genre with songs he wrote."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Monster Piano Recital

Fun! I've always wanted to participate in one of these multi-piano recitals.

"In addition to the traditional piano solos and duets at a recital, family and friends in the audience will be treated to an unusual music event. This kind of concert is becoming very popular, though it can be a nightmare to work out by planners. The "monster" part of the concert involves multiple pianos being played at the same time, with two or even three pianists playing at each piano. Dr. Paul Taylor, associate professor of music at Morehead State University, says it might be more accurate to call it a "piano symphony" since there are typically 10 to 20 pianos being played at the same time." Read the rest.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Smokey and the Maestro?? Big Rig Piano Performance Vehicle

In a world (that doesn't really need 'em) of SUV's and Hummers it had to happen!

Actor/pianist Ryan Ahern has given the planet it's first self-styled "Piano Performance Vehicle". A Steinway concert grand rides, majestically enough, aboard a gleaming montster of chrome, lavish custom detailing, and machissmo from one performance to another. While fully mobile, it's usually found outside the universal studios in LA.

Behold, the mighty "Piano Rig". Read more about Piano Rig, Tour dates, and Ryan Ahern here.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Build Your Own Orchestra for Free

Take note composers!

The UK's Philharmonia Orchestra has started making available samples of orchestral instruments thru their "Notes Database": "We have recorded every note on every instrument of the orchestra at various volumes and durations." This is great resource for computer-based musicians and composers.


Are Dead Pianists Making a Return to the Recording Studio?

New technology is breathing new life into old recordings made by the great pianists of the past. The technology is, based upon older midi technologies, holds exiting possibilities with regards to recovery and archiving of recordings by pianists from the past:

"Zenph Studios, a software company based in Raleigh, has found a way to take a music recording and convert it into a live concert played on real instruments. The concert will be a completely faithful rendition of the original pianists' work...The piano will replicate every note struck, down to the velocity of the hammer and position of the key when it was played."

The technology will makes it's concert debut by recreating performances by Glenn Gould and Alfred Cortot.

Read all about it here.

More here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Recording A Piano

A short read but one that provides some interesting notes (and possible starting points) for recording a piano. It also provides a concise and clear description of the piano's construction and mechanisms, though it does get a bit technical regarding tuning:

"For the equal temperament scale, the frequency of each note in the chromatic scale is related to the frequency of the notes next to it by a factor of 1.059463 ( or the twelfth root of 2 ) The twelfth root of two, when multiplied by the frequency of a note, gives the frequency of the next note up. After doing this for twelve notes, you end up with twice the frequency, or one octave up from the starting note and in twelve equal intervals. In equal temperament, A-flat and G-sharp are the same black key on the piano. This means that a composition written in one key can be shifted up any number of half steps (transposed) and will still contain exactly the same harmony, although the frequencies themselves will be different.
The Just or “harmonic” scale” however has each note related to the fundamental frequency by rational numbers with the semi-tones not equally spaced. Unfortunately this tuning depends heavily on the scale you are using and it is not possible to transpose from one key to another and produce the same harmony. This tuning is common for ensemble choral and orchestral groups who match pitch by ear."

As regards recording technique, the author notes that: "Some of the best classical recordings have been made using an A-B stereo pair placed on the side of the piano. Adjusting the distance to the piano and next to the piano, the amount of ambience and the timbre of the instrument can be tuned. Place the pair mid of the piano about 1 to 2 meters away with the microphones spaced 40 to 60 cm apart and adjust the stereo image so the pianist is to the left. The height of the stereo boom is at 1.2 m to 1.5 m above the piano. By pointing the microphones to the open lid of the piano, the sound reflecting on the inner side of the lid will be brightened giving depth to the recording. An incident pair of ambient room microphones can be added."

If you want to know more, you can check it out here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Is Music Going to the Dogs?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. I came across this strange gem while looking for a recoding of a very different sort. What is it? It's a CD for dogs !

"Notable titles on the disc include "I'll Be Back," "I Love Food," and what Haynes says is the album's No. 1 hit, "Squeaky-Deakey!" Haynes says that by being in the room when the album is played for the first two or three weeks, owners can create a positive association with the music that later calms pets down while the owner is out."

Here's more info. Check the album out here.

But, as it turn out, Fido might just prefer you buy him a nice CD of Mozart, Chopin, or Bach. Why? Well, according to scientists in Ireland, classical music has a positive effect on dogs:

" study suggests that dogs being subjected to classical music while in rescue centers may have more chance of attracting a new owner. " Read all about it here.

Pianist Receives France's Highest Cultural Honor


"Menahem Pressler, a distinguished professor in the Indiana University School of Music, has been named a commander in France's Order of Arts and Letters by French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. The title is France's highest cultural honor.

"This is very unexpected. It is the greatest cultural honor that France gives to a foreigner," said the legendary pianist and founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year."

More Here.

This Week's Featured Pianist

This week's pianist on the web pick is Paul Barnes. He is a magnificent pianist, as evidenced by his various recordings and performances, a fine teacher at the University of Nebraska, and most recently made a splash with Philip Glass' 2nd Piano Concerto

link. Spend sometime at this page and check out all the links.

Cleveland International Piano Competition

The Cleveland International Piano Competition has named the 35 young pianists who will compete at the contest from July 27 to August 7.The pianists range in age from 19 to 29; 11 of them are women. They come from 17 countries, of which China has the most contestants, with seven. The United States, with five entries, and Russia, with four, are also well represented. Serbia will send a contestant for the first time."

DVD Of Note: The History of the Pianoforte

"For the first time, music lovers can see and hear instruments representing three centuries of piano building — all on a single video. From the oldest surviving piano, an instrument of 1720 built by Cristofori (the inventor of the pianoforte), to a Bösendorfer computer grand (which allows a friendly technician to correct the pianist's errors), the entire family lineage is here." Link. Just in time for my birthday !! :--)

Pianism and Mental Instability

A thoughtful piece on music and child prodigies, with a particular focus on the intense pressues that they're often under. The author observes:

"Anyone who has had a prolonged conversation with such giants as Vladimir Horowitz, Claudio Arrau, John Ogdon or Glenn Gould (not to mention one or two young pianists on the international scene today) must be tempted to conclude that pianistic genius and a degree of mental instability go hand in hand."


Mutts, Movement, and Mother Goose

Fun for music lovers and their families in LA with Ravel's moother goose and other delights served up by pianist Jeffrey Kahane.

In addition, meet mutts from the Glendale Humane Society, and discover more about man’s best friend.

Check it out here. Scroll down the page to check out the "What's in that Piano" Activity link.

All the fun courtesy of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Shopping for Piano Lessons offers a short bit of advice on finding a piano teacher:

"Savvy shopper: Get referrals from a piano showroom or music store. Ask for credentials, what their teaching experience has been and with what age groups, what styles of music they teach and, the zinger: "Why do you teach?" By the way, an hourlong lesson averages from $45 to $60; some teachers do provide 30- and 45-minute lessons."

More here.

Richard Goode Makes Good with Mozart

Stereophile magazine has selected Richard Goode's first foray into Mozart's solo piano music. Robert Levine describes Goode's work in the Mozart:

"...such natural phrasing, nuance, spotless fingerwork, and songlike legato—not to mention modesty—that one can't imagine it played any other way. He neither trivializes nor gives the music too much heft. Aided by sound that is intimate, honest, and clean, this is a release to play over and over, and to revel in."

Read more here.

I look forward to this CD for a number of reasons. Levine describes Goode's playing as "honest" and says Goode "has a way of getting out of the way of the music—of never imposing his own personality on it—without ever being bland." On the contrary, it often strikes my ear (say for example in his traversal of the Beethoven sonatas) as admiral, sure-footed, but often enough workman-like. For these reason, Goode's Beethoven isn't quite good enough when compared with those of Kempf, Jando, or (pace purists) Schnabel (it is still one for the ages). Indeed, if one were looking to buy a complete set of the Beethoven sonatas Goode's would not be at the top of my recommended list (nor would it be at the bottom), but rather treading water somewhere around the middle. Hopefully, Levine is wrong and the Mozart discloses an a Goode who is an artist unafraid of making a work uniquely his own.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Picture of the Week: Artists and Pianos

I've decided to do a weekly post called "Picture of the Week" that will present a photo, painting, drawing, or other fine representation of the piano. To kick things off, I give you:

Plums on the Piano.

Kudos to artist Robert Kwon for what is a very beautiful painting !!

Noteworthy New Publication for Digital Musicians

A new publishing venture has started that may be of fellow musicians (especially composers) who alot of work with music and computers. This new venture is called simply enough: Virtual Instruments Magazine. All of the folks involved are top-notch and it promises to be a good source of information for musicians making their way in the digital age. Check 'em out.

Three conductors ponder careers that might have been

A very interesting article, nice angle, that is very much worth reading by every aspiring professional musicians. Food for thought:

"Who are the conductors of these ensembles? And how did fate bring them to this point in their careers? Are they content to ply their craft on the fringes, away from the spotlight of big-time classical music? And was this the vision they had of themselves when they were young aspiring musicians and would-be conductors?"

Read it here.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Pianist Johnnie Johnson dies at 80

"Johnson, once known as the "baddest right hand in the land," was a rollicking thriller on the ivories. Reared on stride and boogie-woogie styles, he went on to support Berry, the flamboyant, duckwalking singer-guitarist, for most of the 1950s and then sporadically afterward." Sad news. Read more about Johnson here.

The Piano Tuner Takes to the Stage!

Robert Astle's one-man show "The Piano Tuner" looks very interesting. More here.The story of Bob a blind piano tuner (pace Oedipus) in search of understanding finds it in curious sounds of the piano. From the dust-jacket of the book of and by the same:

"Bob has been summoned out to a house on the prairie to tune a derelict piano, and he soon discovers that the piano has been "prepared" with sounds, objects and stories which Bob must confront in order to bring the instrument back into tune.
A tragedy in the classic sense, The Piano Tuner follows Bob into his harrowing past, revealing the shocking murder of Bob's former wife and his subsequent incarceration. But this is also a story of redemption. As Bob struggles to bring the piano into tune he rediscovers his long-lost son, Baby Boy; it is he who has filled the piano with the sounds, objects and stories and summoned the piano tuner."
check it out.

Is Pianist/singer Fiona Standing up to "The Man"?

A curious theory for the conspiracy set among fans of Fiona Apple regarding an album SONY opted not to release:

"..the album's 11 songs mysteriously started showing up on Internet sites. It is now easy to download the whole record, with pirated copies selling on eBay for about the price of a standard CD. Some observers have speculated that Apple herself leaked the album to force Sony's hand, and fans have embraced the theory, calling Apple a heroine for standing up to The Man."

Read about it here

The Piano as Art Object

Some very cool art works focused on the piano. Read about it here. See more of it here. Nice.

Heads Up Fortepiano Fans

A concert you might want to keep your eye on if you're going to NYC Link. I am happy to see the fortepiano getting more attention in the music trade and among classical music listeners. It is, at least to my ears, a very beautiful instrument. Of late, I am slogging thru some of Scarlatti and C.P.E. Bach's sonatas on the Fortepiano. Lovely stuff that acquires it's own unique light on that instrument.

That same quality of light (so often spring like) is captured nicely on this cd here. (Mp3' are available on this site on the LH side of the page).

Pianist Make Overs

Anyone who has followed --even with the mostdisinterested regard-- the evolution of Yundi Li can't help but notice his transformation awkward Asian piano nerd to rock-star like piano virtuoso (or at least what absurdly passes for rock star status in some circles. It seems he has had a full blown makeover cince winning the Chopin competition (and for the record I don't think he deserved to win. Reportedly in an interview on competition Martha Agerich also expressed some surprise at this selection. I find his playing at best, well, "trained". But it lacks anything special and seems to lack insight into the music. It's, well, fine playing but seemingly devoid of attentiveness to inner essence and architecture of the music). Anyhow, what troubles me is what I see as a kind of slick packaging and over-hyping of competition winners (anyone who might draw an audience --particularly it seems to me with an eye towards with the large block of Asian classical music consumers). Certainly there is nothing new in this (as I've opined elsewhere). But it seems to be increasingly carried to newer and ever more absurd levels. I fully expect classicl CD album covers to start looking like certain romance novels.

And the Winner Is ! - News from the Rubinstein

The Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition winner has been announced. It's the young Ukranian pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk (he currently resides in Australia). According to the judges, "the Ukrainian is the only one with something demonic". In deed, I do like a little fire in the playing and that seems to be something often missing in the current crop of competition going pianists --polished and skilled, but nothing edgy or jagged. On the other hand, there is the faux edge of the gaudy antics of a Lang-Lang and company. But that's for another post.

Gavrylyuk is remarkable for another reason. Following a car crash (and serious head trauma) it was thought that he would never speak or play the piano again. His then is a remarkable tale. Read more here.

There ares some kooky photos of him here. He is, um, a bit "fuggly" but as long as plays with "demonic" passion that's just fine.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The First Piano?

Here's an instrument that you might not hear mention of in conversations about the origins of the piano. It's the "dulce melos". According to its description:

"It is essentially a keyed dulcimer whose action is a precursor of certain early pianos. A staple-shaped 'hammer' carries a slip of wood hinged to the key at the back, and when a key is depressed it is thrown up against the strings and returns instantly. There are no dampers, and it is possible, played sensitively, to obtain limited dynamics, which was an advantage over the harpsichord being developed over the same period"

Read more about it here. Who says ya don't learn something new everyday?!

Native American Flutes and Music

This is not a "piano" related post but one of possible interest to music lovers in general. Whilst surfing the web, I cam across a really nice blog devoted to Native American flutes -complete with photos. Very nice work by blogger Scott August. Check it out, here

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Curtis Institute Gets A New Prez

The Curtis Institute of Music has announced it's new president. He'll have big shoes to fill (those of Gary Graffman). Read about it here. My own choice would have been for pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn . It's a piano thing ;--)

Piano Lessons Over the Phone

This is a most interesting read --a fellow, Mark Miller, who delivers piano lessons over his cell phone and the internet. According to the article, Miller's "students are in other states or countries when they receive weekly instructions from Miller via his U.S. Cellular mobile phone." I find this absolutely fascinating. His teaching is described as listening " their work via his mobile phone and headset to offer advice and instruction." He focuses on teaching the concepts.

Read the rest here

Miller has his own website www.pianoweb.comand it's well worth checking out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cliburn Confidential: Read 'em and weep

A run-down on the competitors for the Cliburn competition -including ashort bio of sort for each competitor. link.

And remember: sometiems winning isn't everything. One of the best things to come out of the Cliburn is a Yuri Egorov (who didn't even win the Cliburn).

Contemporary Works Chosen for Van Cliburn Competition

Some mighty fine talented composers to hear at the upcoming Cliburn competition. (Personal favorite of the crop is J. Higdon).

"Each young pianist has chosen a piece to perform in the competition's semifinal round next month from among five works: Higdon's Secret and Glass Gardens, Kellogg's Scarlet Thread, Sebastian Currier's Scarlatti Cadences and Brainstorm, Jan Krzywicki's Nocturnals, and Ruth Schonthal's Sonata quasi un'improvvisazione."


A well kepth secret: The Piano Teacher to the Stars

Why are all the great gigs already taken? !

"To train an actor for an on-screen piano-playing role is considerably different than actually teaching piano. "You have to teach the basics, how to count," she says, but then most of the time is given to making them look like they're pros."

This really does sound like a great job !

Read More.

Yundi Li: Another Over-Hyped Pianist?

At last a reviewer who speaks the truth, or at least agrees with something I've been saying for awhile: Yundi Li is a disappointment.

My own view is that his pianistic talents are vastly over-stated. On the upside, he lacks the idiotic appearing antics of Lang-Lang:

"He opened with Mozart's C Major Sonata, K. 330, and I immediately liked his dry touch. But doubts soon crept in with an uninflected left hand and predictable shading: loud, then soft on the repeat, then loud again. Mozart injected a lot of joy into this sonata, but Li's phrases came out in straightforward, declarative sentences, correct and dull."

True the reviewer holds out hope he'll develop in time. I, on the other hand, hold out no such hope. Hard work and time can not compensate for what is lacking.


I'll Have that Piano Well Done: Tuning the Piano for an Artist

Now here is an interesting story... Anton Kuerti, a Canadian pianist of some note, is performing and leading a master class. What's interesting is it's Kuerti and it's related to prepping a piano for an artist... And one can't help but wonder what specifications he'd like the piano prep'd to meet.

Here is a couple of key graphs that caught my attention in the article: "At today's rehearsal, Kuerti will share insights into the specifications the piano requires. The touch, the action of the keys and the voicing are critical to producing the sound an artist prefers."


""He likes a slightly different type of voicing. He'll compare a piano as to how effective a tool it is for him to play. He wants as much control of the action as possible for full dynamic range." (emphasis mine).

I would say so, the few times I've seen him and he literally bangs the piano --a very heavy hand. He does strike me as the most, uh, nuanced of pianists.

Oh well, funny old world I suppose. Read it


Monday, April 11, 2005

Glitch Scene

One of the forms of experimental music that I'm most drawn to these days is glitch core (all electronic. ambient. no vocals, please). I can't put my finger on it, maybe it has something to do with the sounds themselves. But I respond to it, physically, in much the same way that i respond when playing Bach's keyboard works.

More about the glitch scene here. And, yes, I believe it is cheaper than therapy.

Listen up here.

Feeling Creepy

We've long known about the effects of infrasound, but this older BBC article got me to thinking about how I might go about manipulating it as part of the aesthetic experience as well:

"But in a controlled experiment in which infrasound was pumped into a concert hall, UK scientists found they could instil strange feelings in the audience at will. "


For example, something along the lines of what these folks are up to. Check 'em out.

or these folks.

Mental Illness and Composers

An interesting article that looks at the relation between mental illness and creativity as exhibited in composers. Of course, it's highly suspect work since all these folks are long since dead and can't really be asked to lie down on the couch and answer questions. Still it makes for food for thought. Consider this:

"Schumann, Kogan explained, wrestled with wild mood swings, throwing himself into the Rhine River and dying in a mental hospital. "He had bursts of creativity that alternated with suicidal depression. I read about that and realized I'd seen this behavior in my patients. You look at (Schumann's) music, and he has instructions like, 'Play fast,' followed by 'Play this faster.' His thoughts were often racing - and you find that in his music."

Read the rest

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Glenn Gould in Fine Detail: Art

A fine series of paintings of pianist Glenn Gould by artist Heidemarie Schäfer are online to be admired here. They are quite beautiful.

And then there were six: news from the Rubinstein Piano competition

Semi-finalists have been named for the Rubinstein competition:

" The group is comprised of China's Jie Chen, 19, who studies in Philadelphia; Ukraine's Alexander Gavrylyuk, 20, who has studied in Australia for seven years; Russia's Tatiana Kolesova, 20; South Korea's Minsoo Sohn, 28, who studied in Boston; South Korea's Yeol Eum Son, 18; and Russia's Igor Levit, 18, who studies in Hanover."

Details here

Newly Discovered Work by Beethoven Performed

And continuing with the theme of recently discovered works by the Masters comes news of this work by Beethoven:

"The rare musical manuscript, in Beethoven’s own hand, dates from 1815, the year of the Battle of Waterloo. Part of a series of tunes commissioned by an Edinburgh publisher, George Thomson, they are now up for auction and expected to sell for about £400,000. Beethoven’s score for Highland Harry - whose chorus Burns picked up "from an old woman in Dunblane" - was described by one expert yesterday as a jaunty piece that used a bass "drone" to give a folksy feel." More Here

A Lost Work by Mozart Discovered?

We'll have to wait awhile before the final expert opinion is in, but it appears a symphony by Mozart has been discovered.

"A musical composition recently discovered at an Austrian concert house, could be a lost composition by the legend Wolfgang Aaadeus Mozart."
read more here and more detail Here

Piano and lacrosse

A fine story on lacrosse player Nick Pinto's passion for the piano.

"This other side of him, the musical side, started about age 8, around the same time Nick first picked up a lacrosse stick and years after his brother had already taken to the keys of the old piano. (''I always remember," Pinto said, ''trying to play my brother's pieces.") It blossomed years later when the new model showed up, a bit unexpectedly." The rest is here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Self-Financed Recording of Bach's Goldberg

What a great lead-in:

"Nestled in the often-bypassed upper reaches of Manhattan on the Hudson River, the musty, neoclassic auditorium stands in a tranquil, dignified time warp. The stage is in the Academy of Arts and Letters, with a lamp out of a 1940s film noir illuminating the lone Simone Dinnerstein, hunched over a Steinway in stocking feet, playing Bach with the focus of a neurosurgeon."

Read More.

Nicely written.

curious and strange performance

A curious and strange little review (or should that be performance) of Italian pianist Gianluca Cascioli. The reviewer writes:

"Cascioli began by straying on to the stage like a wraith, giving an oddly quick little bow, and then launching into the Mozart with a fierce intensity that at first was riveting. But throughout that boyish face betrayed not a flicker of emotion, and at the end he vanished off-stage like a mirage."

Read the rest of it here

Moura Lympany, Veteran Concert Pianist, Is Dead

Sad news today. One of the grand dames of the keyboard has left us.

"Moura Lympany, the colorful and elegant British concert pianist whose career lasted more than 65 years, died on March 28 in Menton, France. She was 88...Ms. Lympany avoided specialization, yet she is often associated with Russian music, particularly Rachmaninoff (she was the first to record his complete Preludes) and Khachaturian. She gave Khachaturian's piano concerto its first performances outside the Soviet Union, touring with it in 1940."

Read the rest of teh NYT Obit here

Pianos and the National Recording Registry

The National Recording Registry (set up to preserve sound recordings "that are culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States")has announced the current crop of recordings select for the registry. This the NRR's third year since started in 2002 by the Library of Congress.
Among those chose are these gems:

“Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor", Sergei Rachmaninoff, piano; Leopold Stokowski, conductor, Philadelphia Orchestra (1929)

"Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 23, b-flat minor", Vladimir Horowitz, piano; Arturo Toscanini, conductor, NBC Symphony Orchestra (1943).

A full list of the newest recordings selected for the registry can be found here and you can find the National Recording Registry on the web right here

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Evening in the Palace of Reason: When Johnny Met Freddy

Spring is afoot and summer is not far behind. So, if you're like me, it's a fine time to start thinking about your summer reading --or something for those fine sunny spring mornings.

One book that has recently caught my attention is "Evening in the Palace of Reason" by James Gaines. A story of the meeting between J. S. Bach (always a welcome figure around these parts) and Frederick the Great. The encounter, which resulted in one of Bach's undisputed masterworks, takes place when is Bach already in the sunset of his years and Frederick The Great is on the rise. An encounter that tells us as much about music as the meeting of two very different world views.

A splendid little review of the book can be found here at the Denver post. Publisher's info is here.

and speaking of new pianos

A brand new Steinway D concert grand has made it's way to Idaho (courtesy of the Mormon's) and will be getting a little excercise soon. Read about it here.

What a deal ! ?

Or so I think.. I would have thought Dave Stewart's Bechstein (played by Annie Lennox, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and others) would have fetched more more money at auction. Alas, the conservative end of the ball park figures suggested previously were, no pun, right on the money. I should have bid : - )

Read it here

Still it did better than the piano in Tenn. that went for a whopping .11 cents. Here

Sunday, April 03, 2005

We Have Kontakt (2)

For the home computer-based musician (and what, really, can't be done with utterly convincing resultls on the computer these days?) comes news of Native Instruments' "Kontakt 2". The instrument library alone for this puppy is killer. Indeed, so rich and rockin' is the libary it will certainly give a nudge to those who might have otherwise been on the fence. Especially fetching are the contributions from VSL (Vienna Symphonic Library" and PMI (Post Musical Instruments).

Read all about it

Martha, Martha, Martha....

"pianists Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire have been playing together, or almost together, for many years. And more than most two-piano teams, they play for excitement.

That is risky business in a stage setup with pianos facing head-on, which doesn't allow the players to see each other's hands or, for that matter, much of each other at all. Some teams have devised gimmicks - heavy breathing, say, or facial twitches - to communicate; others play for safety and comfort."

It's all here

Liberace and Lang Lang: A Match Made in Heaven

An interesting review of Mr. Lang Lang, a pianist who is vastly over-hyped. Alas, I fear he is the classical music world's answer to liberace. If only the critics would say it so more plaingly.

"But what of the music that needs only 10 fingers, or fewer? What happens when the contrasts are less violent, the difficulties less tangible, more abstract? There the results were frustrating. When the music became sparer, more reflective, Lang seemed to work to make it more interesting, as if he were trying to keep himself engaged."

Fizze and Read

Piano and Japanese Animation

now here's something intereting.. A nice diverseion from "Simpsons" and "Space Ghost" eh?

"Miu Nomura once loved to play the piano. As a little girl, the music made her heart soar and she eagerly shared her songs with all of those around her. Now an introverted teenager, Miu has become too shy to express her feelings – even through her music. Her playing has suffered and her piano teacher, the moody Mr. Shirakawa, has become impatient with her inability to reach the next level.

When Miu develops a crush on upperclassman Takahashi, her best friend Yuuki is the first to notice. Unfortunately, Yuuki's too distracted with her own emotional troubles – she's fallen hard for third year track star Takizawa! However, Mr. Shirakawa has also noticed something...a sudden and remarkable change in Miu's
playing. Can he help her rediscover the joy of the piano and find the courage to share her heart and music once more?" Link

Wanna Buy a Piano

if you're looking for to put a little of pop music under your fingers, literally, well there good news afoot. Dave Stewart of the "Eurythmics" is selling off his beautiful and oft heard Bechstein grand piano. Bechstein's are beautiful beasts and ought to feature a pretty penny. But you'll have to hurry. I'm sure it'll meet it's resever price.

"The black BECHSTEIN grand - which Stewart has owned for over 20 years - has been used to compose all the band's major hits, including SWEET DREAMS and HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN. But the piano is being auctioned in London tomorrow (04APR05) with a reserve price of $5,700 (GBP3000), in preparation for Stewart's move across the Atlantic."

More here and if you're ready go here