Friday, September 30, 2005

Which Major Work of Berg Are You?

And the answer to that question for me is:


You are Berg's ridiculously complicated Chamber
Concerto. No one will ever figure you out and
when they do, it probably won't be right.

What major work of Alban Berg are you!?!?!
brought to you by Quizilla

Found here via Alex Ross.

And I think that suits me just fine. If you're wondering, here's a short sample of the Chamber Concerto.

Touching the Sound: docu-film note

"Fascinating though Glennie's performances and comments are, the film rarely tops the freshness of its first 10 minutes, when the soundtrack is filled with ambient street sounds, the delightful clicks and clacks of shoes on pavement, the honks of cars and the shuffle of clothing."

More here.

More Music on the Web

Via Pliable's "On an Overgrown Path" comes news of a really great thing for those who listen online!

Check it out here.

The News from Poland: Large and Scary

Blogger and pianist, Lyudmila Chudinova reports on her blog:

"I am in Warsaw listening to performers. The level is very high but some pianists improvise or stop because of stage anxiety.The hall is large and scary." Link.

In addition, the jury for the International Chopin Competition has done a mountain of work, or not as you may like, in trimming the field of contestants from nearly 300 to 80. Both Mei-Ting Sun, Esther Park, and Yuko Ueno are among those who have survived the first cut. Good luck to all.

Throat Singing

The Inuits have a tradition of "throat signing":

"Inuit created a musical instrument they could carry with them everywhere - vocal cords. The only thing they needed to play this instrument was their bodies. The human voice was the main musical instument of the Inuit so they had many ways of singing. One of the maost unique ways was throat singing. Inuit women throat sing by breathing in rythms. They can make sounds like the wind, birds, animal calls, etc.

More here. Listen to samples here.

Not a Music Related Post

So while wandering down a trail this afternoon with the dogs, I came upon a curious discovery. Midway thru our walk the dogs bolted thru the brush to get at a tree set back off the trail and obscured by vines and bushes. They started pawing at it and I figured it was a squirrel. But no.

On inspecting what they'd found, I discovered a hollow spot in the tree and in it a metal box. Opening it I found a camera, trinkets, a diary, and a note explaining that what was in my hands was a geocache.

Took the dogs pictures. Signed the journal. Put it back for the next wanderer.

You're In the Army Mr. Paganini !

Whoa! Get this, the U.S. Army National Guard will let you download three "free" .mp3 songs from iTunes. All you have to do is sign up to be contacted by recruiters. Put your peepers on it right here.

Mmmm.. I think I just caught a whiff of "teen spirit"...

Sad times indeed.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Koji Atwood

Great review of pianist Koji Attwood's recent recital at the Steinway Gallery in Florida.

"Huge sound, high emotion, and an instinct for sharply etched color. He also is a pianist of impressive technique, a player who can rattle off scalar figurations with aplomb and dazzle and still make room in his palette for the simplicity of the thematic line..."

An interesting program, particularly Attwoods inclusion of the music of Bortkiewicz. Music that ought to get more play than it does. Read the rest of the review here.

You can (and ought) to check out some of the Attwood's freely available .mp3's of his playing on Classical Cat. Find it here. An interesting interview with Attwood is found here.

Carnival of Music #17

The Well-Tempered Blog Needs You!

The next "Carnival of Music" will be hosted here at "The Well-Tempered Blog". I didn't receive a email reply yet from TexasBestGrok, but the schedule has me booked for next Monday! That's coming up quick!!

What's it all about? " Anything having to do with music. The Carnival of Music is a celebration of all things musical - listening to or playing it, writing or recording it, analyzing or criticizing it. Music history, music theory, and composition are all welcome and encouraged in featured entries. I will not limit genres; classical, jazz, pop, rock, rap, country -- all are welcome here."

How you can help! Email favorite links to music items.

I'll also be happy to also include in the Carnival any audio files of your own playing or original compositions.

Where do I send a submission?

Send your submissions to TexasBestGrok at: music.carnival @!

What else can you do? Volunteer to host the carnival! The Carnival's reach is as far and as wide as the Web itself. So perhaps take the show overseas (Retroklang, Jessica Duchen,On an Overgrown Path, La Idea del Norte)!

Anyhow, I look forward to your contributions for Carnival no. 17.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sometimes you listen, Sometimes you'd rather play

At least that's my experience. Curiously, I'd much rather play Bach than listen to Bach. I experience this also with Schumann's music. I don't know why. In contrast, I'd much rather listen to Liszt than play Liszt. Same for Debussy.

Anyone else have this curious condition?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Carnival of Music's Sweet 16 Party

Check it out ! Scott's done a fine job with hosting the 16th Carnival of Music. There are some tasty links to be had at this week's edition of the Carnival. Don't miss it.

Volunteers are needed to host the Carnival as it travels the blogosphere. I've already sent along an email volunteering to host the carnival, and I hope some of my regular readers will also volunteer. Detail are here.

Quotable Quotes

"People who complete orchestration assignments with the full battery of extended techniques are like people who write papers with a thesaurus in their lap."

-Adam Baratz

Adam's blog is WTB blog pick for the day! Check it out.

Long Time No Blog

Apologies for the slow rate of posts lately. I have been busy with various projects and needing some "offline" time. But I'm back! Tanned, Rested, and Ready.

Among the projects I've been trying to finish up are some recording projects. Hopefully I'll be able to share the results of labors before too long.

Not Sure I Buy This, But OK

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(11% permissive)

You are best described as a:


You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

Found the above survey/quiz via here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bach to the Future

"She was reunited with her much-loved piano as a special 101st birthday treat following a brief period of separation and was straight away bashing out her favourite Beethoven. Ruby left her friends astounded as she ploughed through a 45-minute private performance at Headingley Hall Care Home. But as she played away she was given a second surprise – the Lord Mayor of Leeds coun Bill Hyde joined the audience."

I should be so lucky. Read more here.

Career Drift

"When Heidi Lukas was a little girl in Milton, Wis., she wanted to be a concert pianist. She majored in piano performance at Lawrence University, but by her senior year, she realized that "I didn't have the drive to continue to practice for five hours a day" as a professional musician. Now, she is director of operations for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- a post that combines her love of music with the stability of a more traditional office job. "

Read the rest here.


No surprises here:

Steve Jobs, speaking to reporters before the opening of the Apple Expo in Paris, acknowledged that some record companies were pushing him to raise the price of each song download, currently 99 cents on the U.S. iTunes site.

Record companies already make more profit by selling a song through iTunes than on a CD, with all the associated manufacturing and marketing costs, Jobs said.

"So if they want to raise the prices it just means they're getting a little greedy."

The Apple co-founder and CEO indicated he plans to stand firm. "We're trying to compete with piracy, we're trying to pull people away from piracy and say, 'You can buy these songs legally for a fair price,'" he said.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Ragtime and a murderous piano

This looks tasty:

"We first meet ragtime superstar Scott Joplin in Tananarive Due's novel "Joplin's Ghost" in 1917, when syphilis has nearly eaten through his brain and crippled his hands. He struggles to play an old piano that has shown up in the asylum that will be his last home. But this is no ordinary piano. This is an angry piano lusting for vengeance. In the next chapter, set in 1991, it tries to kill a 10-year-old girl named Phoenix." more here.

Word up, dawg!

Find the book here.

Great Pianists Series

Lucky folks in upstate new york. Details.

3 Pianists and One Orchestra

"..the decision to open the season with three concert programs featuring rising stars of the piano world - Russian virtuoso Evgeny Kissin, China's Lang Lang, and American Jonathan Biss - was serendipitous. "It's just a matter of logistics," he told me. "These things depend on when the artists are available." Nevertheless, the coming weeks offer a fascinating opportunity to glimpse the direction of classical pianism today."

direction? surely they jest. Read it all right here.

Kissin? Been there, done that. Lang Lang? Forget about it. Biss? A very interesting pianist worth checking out, he seems to be one of those young pianists under 25, who by a combination of native talents and extraordinary breaks, enjoy an uber-career without the hassles of having had to win a major international piano competition or capitalizing on pathetic stage antics.

Today's Blog Pick

Today's pick is a blog that cheerfully embraces it's own deletion. It's none other than: This Blog will be Deleted by Tomorrow. Give 'em a visit. There's plenty to see and read.

Speaking of Competitions

The Chopin International Piano Competition is coming up soon. Loads of pianists competing (including regular reader of this blog Lyudmila Chudinova.

Maxwell, a sponsor for the competition, has setup a really great website with lots of information about Chopin, the competition and its history, and includes freebies like a Chopin screensaver and wallpaper. You'll find it all right here.

Doesn't appear to be a webcast for the competition. But I'll keep checking.

Keepin' the Faith

After finishing 4th at the Cleveland and 5th at the Busoni, Spencer Myer waxes philosophical:

"After doing so many competitions, and seeing people who play the loudest and fastest come out on top, you begin to think that maybe that's what you will have to do. But what you really have to do is be true to yourself, because sooner or later it's going to strike a chord."

Hopefully, it does strike a chord at the APA Competition which is his next push.

And then there's the money thang:

"If I can possibly sustain myself just performing, I would like to do that. My other love -- which I do a lot of in New York City -- is accompanying singers. If I'm at a slow point in performing, I would rather accompany singers and instrumentalists than teach."

Read the rest here.

And if you're interested Myer has an interesting, if less than polished, webpage that's worth visiting. check it out here.

Nimble Feet and Tricky Fingers

Pianist Tony Caramia proves that "a pianist can play an effective ragtime recital without touching Joplin's music (in much the same way that Prokofiev once showed that a great classical recital was possible without Chopin), but also that ragtime can sound remarkably contemporary." Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Carnival Time

And a fine one it is!

Check it out right here on the Rambler's excellent blog.

Not a Governess of the Music

Well worth your time is the NPR (National Public Radio) Performance Today's interview with Alfred Brendel yesterday. Choice excerpt:

F.Childs: You say you are not a governess of the music, but you don't exactly treat the music like a governess either. You say the music tells you what to do, but it tells you something. It may tell someone else something different. What is that balance between the active and the passive as an interpretive artist?

A.Brendel.: Well, first of all, if a piece tells me what to do I am very lucky, then I am just striving to go where the piece tell me to go. Those are moments of bliss. But I am not telling the piece where it should be like. I try to understand what it is on its own terms. Each piece has its own structure and its own character, if it's a masterpiece. It's wonderful to occupy one's time finding out what the different structures and characters are.

and this:

"Brendel: In Mozart's keyboard works everything is exposed. There are relatively few notes and each of them counts. Not only that you find the right key, but that you give each key the right nuance, the right inflection. If you are not careful you fall into a trap. This is also why these pieces are relatively rarely performed. I think that most players shy away from them. They either don't see the complications and think the pieces are too easy, or they do see the complications and find them too difficult. I decided that I should tackle these sonatas because it will be too late if I don't do it soon."

Couldn't agree more!

Read the rest here.Performance Today is a real paradise on the radio dial!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Noise Pollution?

This is simply astounding...!

"The neighbors complained again and again about incessant loud noise from Li Tong Yang's apartment in Tysons Corner, and next week, because of the noise, she and her son John must leave. They have nowhere to go."

and this:

"The noise that generated calls to the Fairfax County police and complaints to building management comes from a Steinway grand piano. The person playing that piano is 12-year-old John Chen, who happens to be, in the estimation of Pamela Sverjensky, head of the Piano Department at the Levine School of Music, "probably the most talented person ever to come to this school," which is saying a great deal."

Read the rest of article here.

Seems there ought to be a middle ground somewhere. Or cut different, it seems there is a bit of "unreasonableness" on both sides.

Uncle Grok Needs You


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Speaking of the Harpsichord

An interesting bit on harpsichordist turned pianist Byron Schenkman:

"An enormous world has opened up to me, and I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I am playing with new colleagues, forming new collaborations with emerging artists, as well as some of the people whom I admired and respected but hadn't been able to collaborate with because our instruments didn't match up."

Read the rest here.

A Little Bit of a Freak

says Canadian pianist Louis Lorti:

"describing himself as "a little bit of a freak. I do so much travelling through dirty and unhealthy cities that I'm obsessed with pure air and food."

more interesting is this:

"One composer Lortie shies away from is Bach. "I love his music," he says, "but I have a problem with Bach at the piano. I learned the harpsichord as a teenager, and if you give me Bach and there is a piano and a harpsichord I will sit at the harpsichord."

and more still this notion:

"Mozart concertos," he continues in his lightly accented English, "were never written to be played with a conductor; it's almost an absurdity."

He has a new label and it look like he'll be doing the Beethoven sonata cycle (as live recordings).

Read the reset here.

Early Keyboard Resource

Princeton Early Keyboard Center describes itself as "a small independent school devoted to the teaching of harpsichord and clavichord playing, continuo realization and accompaniment, and related arts." And it's mission is to "offer lessons in all aspects of Baroque keyboard to anyone who wants or needs them for any reason, and also to offer opportunities or help with anything having to do with Baroque keyboard instruments - outside of or in addition to lessons - to anyone who could use such help or opportunities." Sounds pretty cool!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New Orleans Piano Giants Past and Present

It's all right here.

National Piano Month (USA)

September is "National Piano Month". You can read all about it here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Classical music dying?

Some interesting thoughts on what ails classical music from Peter Dobrin:

"But if what we're talking about here is not a crisis in interest in classical music, but a crisis in what the public is willing to pay for that interest, orchestras nationally need to change the dialogue.Our ticket buyers are affluent, orchestras say. Some are, some aren't. But the relevant question today is not what people are able to pay, but what they're willing to pay."

Read the rest here.

À La Recherche des Temps Perdu

FullerMusic has a great post up about an experience that I think is shared by more than just a few of us:

"It's a strange, occasionally eery and consistent flashbacking (best verb I can think of) that happens nearly every time I practice the piano. These are astonishing, out-of-the-blue, instant transportations to forgotten moments ... (as a 9-year-old walking past a swing ... as a 28-year-old sitting a certain way in a certain house ...) Mundane and tiny they often are, yet they are perfect recollections. Little virtual realities that arrive with an absolute suddenness."

It is a strange experience! Perhaps the piano (or any instrument one has devoted substantial time to learning) is such a profound vehicle for self-expression it is inescapably part of the very machinery of rememberance and memory. Also worth revisiting is a post by Pliable on music and Alzheimers.

Somewhere along this thread (between my earlier post and Carthy's) are intersections with a very interesting post by Emejota (La Idea del Norte) on the production of sonic images and tacticity --thru an interesting reading of a scene from one of Gould's home movies. It's a post that, if you read Spanish, is worth pouring over more than once:

"Lo más chocante de la escena, lo que deja perplejo al espectador, es que en ningún momento se ha producido una nota falsa o un error que justificara los sucesivos parones y el evidente gesto de contrariedad del pianista. ¿Qué ha pasado entonces? Lo que ha pasado es que Gould no había conseguido enfocar la imagen sonora de la música sobre el teclado."

Today's Blog Pick

A Monk's Musical Musings A relatively new blog produced by self-described recovering jazzer and music theorist. Particularly noteworthy are a series of posts on Beethoven's 9th. Check it out, folks!

Carnival Time

Check out the Carnival of Music. Loads of good stuff !

New Orleans

Alex Ross has a post worth pointing to with regards to the relief effort for New Orleans residents. Specifically, Ross refers to a compilation of recovery/relief links put together over at the Arts Journal website located here.

News from the Busoni Competition

The Busoni International Competition has announced the winners. The first prize winner is something a of suprise, at least to me, as his performance at the Cliburn didn't get him beyond the semi-finals. They are:

1st prize. Giuseppe Andaloro (Italy)

2nd Prize Mariangela Vacatello (Italy)

3rd Prize Hye-Jin Kim (South Korea)

Spencer Myer who generated excitement (despite not winning) at the Cleveland Competition doesn't leave Italy entirely empty handed. He recieved an audience "recognition" award.

Details and more here and here.

You can download and listen to Andaloro playing the Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto here on ClassicCat.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Seeing the Music

A couple of weeks back I came across this interesting article published in the UK on music therapy. The article caught my interest with its mention of Paul Robertson's work on music and the mind:

Paul Robertson, the former leader of the Medici Quartet, promotes the relationship between music, the mind and emotions, and says that music may offer a way into the brain when other pathways have become damaged. He cites the case of Stephen Wade, a linguist and amateur composer, who suffered a stroke and can no longer speak, read or write. Wade does not remember a conversation from a few minutes before, but can play complex passages of music. He cannot write words, but is able to write music.

Last year he completed a degree in music composition at Cambridge University. Wade’s story is not unusual; thousands of people lose the ability to process language, but not music. “Music is the underlying structure of communication,” says Robertson. “It is hard-wired into our brains. Neurological research shows that it is not memory that is lost, but the access to it, so music may offer another route in, providing a kind of short-cut.

Then I came across a reference to Robertson in this article on the perception of sound:

"Among many other things, he (Robertson) presents research where the brain of a male, practicing scales and playing Bach on a small keyboard, is x-rayed. One of the most amazing results of this examination is that the part of the brain that deals with listening is inactive while he plays. On the other hand the part which deals with visual impressions is active when he plays Bach (i.e. is creative) but not when he practices scales (a non creative task)....For some reason our minds let us believe that we are hearing when we are in fact feeling or seeing, and that we are seeing when we´re hearing. Why is that?"

Is there not some other kind or modality of listening going on? I think of my own experiences at practice and I partly think it makes sense, but at the same time something doesn't quite ring true. I've alway enjoyed playing and practicing Bach early in the morning and experienced it as a kind of meditative practice. Often slowing the tempo to a crawl, concentrating on "feeling" each note beneath the finger and at the same time "seeing" it as it fits into a larger network of relations.

What's your experience?