Saturday, September 30, 2006
Josu de Solaun has taken first prize at the Iturbi competition. As the winner he recieves over 20,000 dollars (US), a string of performances in Europe and the United States, and a recording deal. Josu de Solaun is a protege of Cuban virtuso Horacio Gutierrez
in the doctoral program at the Manhattan School of Music in NYC.
Valentina Igoshina of Russia took home the 2nd Prize and Andrei Yaroshinsky, also of Russia, was the third prize winner.
Patrick Hemmerle (France) and Sofia Melikyan shared the prize for "Best Performance of Spanish Music".
Details and more here.
Full list of awards and prizes here (in pdf).
This year's Iturbi was reportedly one of the most exciting and fierce with a high caliber of talent throughout. Congratulations to all.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
"Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has won the 2006 Gramophone Artist of the Year Award.The award, voted on by fans, is presented annually by classical music magazine Gramophone. "
Her Bach is some of the most glorious to be found. (what is it with Canada and Bach?) And she plays a Fazioli !
She has a fantastic website that's definitely worth a visit. It's here.
You can participate by visiting his website at the University of Leicester and filling out an online survey.
You find it right here (English) or here (en Espanol)
"Fans of classical music have shed their stuffy image and embraced technology, according to Gramophone magazine. A survey of its readers found that 75% use a computer, MP3 player, or digital radio to listen to music. It also discovered that fans over the age of 50 downloaded an average of eleven pieces of music last year. "
I bet that last number will keep on climbing!
"..Shostakovich made a two-piano version, never published, of his "Babi Yar" Symphony, No. 13, to verse by the Soviet dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. (The two-piano reduction was, however, used to play the work for Soviet censors in order to get permission for the symphony's first performance.) Thanks to special permission from the composer's widow, a portion of that arrangement is having its world premiere tonight in New York City." Read it here.
"A burglar who broke into a house in the Dutch town of Tiel could not resist playing the piano he found there after ransacking the living room, police say. Unfortunately for the 20-year-old thief, his music woke the owner of the house, who called the police. " link
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
After you've downloaded that check out the rest of their online shop. There are some really great recordings available. Hope this proves a successful venture!!
Check it out here.
Yosu de Solaun, (Spain), Patrick Hemmerle (France), Valentina Igoshina (Russia), Natalia Kuchaeva (Russia), Sofya Melikyan (Armenia) y Andrey Yaroshinskiy(Russia). Link. Good luck to all !
If you're in Europe the finals are being broadcast live. Details here.
You might want to also check out the "little concerto" composed by Morton Gould for Iturbi. Info here.
And one last bit of Iturbi-ana: two of the pianos owned by Iturbi may be taking a trip from Hollywood to Spain. Details here.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
"...Apple has decided to issue cease and desist notices to all those who use the word podcast on their web sites. According to Steve Jobs, Podcast is an Apple trademark and users will have to either pay up or face the music." link
"Now that Apple believes that it has successfully sequestered the name "pod" from the English language, it is going hell for leather to try and shut anyone anything that uses pod in a name related to the music player business." link
A fine essay-obituary on Sir Malcolm can be found here.
The "Official" Malcolm Arnold website can be found here.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
"There were pianos in so many rooms," Stone said. "Even when I visited him one April the Christmas trees were still up and still decorated, because he said he loved them so much.""
You can have a sneak peek here.
"Ironically, while arts advocates in the United States have long argued for adoption of the "European model" -- which has produced a rich and varied artistic life for Europeans -- Europe is being forced to change its system of support to one that depends more on private money and the box office."
"...cheap prices for the performing arts do not solve the thorny problem of access for youth. First, youth may not take advantage of cheap tickets to the extent that they are not interested in going to hear live classical music at any price. Second, even if they do want to go, they may not be able to get seats, which often are not available because subscriptions stay in the same hands year after year."
You can read the rest here.
See the rest of the entrants here.
You find it all here.
In November the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition. This competition will also be broadcast in sound and video over the internet. Link.
You can decide for yourself by listening to competition performances still online at BBC Radio 3.
Check it out here.
Friday, September 22, 2006
According to psychologists,
"Fans of jazz, classical and other "complex" music typically have above-average IQ scores."
Opera lovers? " opera aficionados are three times more likely to endorse suicide as a solution to family dishonor, says Steven Stack, a psychologist at Wayne State University in Michigan"
"fans of gangsta rap or heavy metal are often more timid and shy than other kids"
"People who like country and pop might be more simpleminded, and that's not necessarily bad.."
Read the rest of it here.
Me? My music collection is all over the place and somewhat disorganized. Patsy Cline nestled up against Alban Berg resting atop the Go Betweens, Schumann sandwhiched between Haydn and Mahalia Jackson.
Don't go there. I don't wanna know. Just sayin'.
Alex Ross is replaying of some his old NYT reviews of "significant" premiers on his blog. Link.
Celebrity Series Blog points the way to a marvelous new dance site. If dance isn't your cup of tea, stop by the blog for the latest on building your own robot. You find it right here.
Jim Palermo at the must-click ChicagoClassical Music Blog has discovered a new mp3 player made with classical music lovers in mind. Wake-up and smell the blogging. Link
Christopher Foley of "The Collaborative Piano Blog" announces a new email address and discovery of the ultimate what might be the ultimate classical music quiz. find it all here.
You can download (in mp3 format) a sweet selection of Patchen poems set to music courtesy of composer/pianist/blogger Adam Baratz who makes these available on his website. Check 'em out here.
Speaking of composers, FullerMusic has a fine post on the inky life Brahms, Chopin, and Beethoven. Picture tells a thousand words, eh? Link
And by way of "My Other Life" you can discover the secret ingredient to sight-reading. Successful sight reading. Link.
Do bloggers drive other bloggers a little nutty? That's a possibilty raised in a post at Oboeinsight, one that makes you sit back and go hmmmmm. Find it and more here.
A story. A post. A link. La Boîte à Joujoux by Debussy is the focus of a splendid post at RetroKlang, a post with links to a remarkable site dedicated to visual story telling. check it out! Link.
At "Of Music and Men" a violinist gets it spot on with regards to business of metronomes and the inner pulse vital to what makes music, uh, well music. the money quote: "In many ways, music was better off before this device, as mankind was before becoming dependent on accurate watches. " Read it all here.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
La Idea del Norte has up an interesting post on Modernism. And, yes, this time the venerable Alfred Brendel is wrong.
Scroll down for three beautiful photos that recalled for me all almost imediately out of the fog of forgetfulness a few lines of Neruda
Hemos perdido aún este crepúsculo.
Nadie nos vio esta tarde con las manos unidas
mientras la noche azul caía sobre el mundo.
Yukiko Akagi (Japan),
Patrick Hemmerle (France)
Valentina Igoshina (Russia)
Philipp Kopachevsky (Rusisa)
Natalia Kuchaeva (Russia)
Sofía Melikyan (Armenia), Yukako Morikawa (Japan)
Andrey Yaroshinskiy (Russia).
Claudio Carbó ( Spain, follow link for an audio clip interview)
José de Solau Soto (Spain)
Miguel Angel Castro (Spain)
Antonio Ortiz (Spain)
Read the rest. Good luck to all !
Russians and Spanish have been reportedly turning in strong performances. In fact, discussion of the competition can even be found on a Russian classical music forum (thank you to a WTB reader for the tip). You find it here. (Russian/English)
Inteview withe Jury President is here. (Spanish).
Visit toy pianist Isabel Ettenauer's website here. Follow the "audio" link to hear some sweet sounds. I'm sold on buying her CD. It's too good to pass up!
You can hear it here. Her webiste (see above link) has both audio clips and a podcast.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Grace Fong USA
Sung-Hoon Kim Korea
Sunwook Kim Korea
Denis Kozhukhin Russia
Siheng Song China
All I can say is: Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do.
On the 22nd and 23rd you can hear the final round over the Internet here.
“Tell me,” says the violinist. “When you get to [name of town], what will you be performing?”read the rest here.
“Oh, you know,” groans the pianist. “Another performance of one of those @#$%@ Rachmaninoff concertos.”
The violinist looks at him very gravely. “You must never talk like that,” he says. “Do you know what we violinists would give to have a Rachmaninoff violin concerto?”
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
"A word of congratulation, a smile, the offer of a cup of tea or a bottle of water are the small but vital kindnesses they bring to the "Leeds".
Read the rest.
With Hancock, Andrew Hill, Danilo Perez, Renee Rosnes, Billy Taylor and Randy Weston judging the piano competition, the three young finalists added their voices to a century-old jazz tradition.
The clear audience favorite was a Dutch-born Californian, Gerald Clayton, who deftly combined the second movement of Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata with John Lewis's "Django."
But the judges were more impressed with Armenian-born Tigran Hamasyan, who offered rhythmically dynamic readings of Ray Noble's "Cherokee" and Miles Davis's "Solar" to take the top prize of $20,000. Clayton won second place, and American Aaron Parks came in third.
Monday, September 18, 2006
It a wonderful and truly rare look at the magic of pianos from the perspective of those who tune, voice, and restore pianos at ashop in the Bronx, a shop housed in factory that originally made ornate bath tubs in the 19th century.
You will not find here long excursions into the nitty-gritty of technical details of tuning or voicing, but a series of elegantly presented meditations on what makes a piano a work of complex and impossible beauty. Piano as element. This is a must-not-miss film. Visit the website for the film here and check out the trailer for the film.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Joan Cerveró, Carlos Fontcuberta y Voro García
Read about it here. (in Spanish)
The competition website is here. Accessible in English, Spanish, and Valenciana.
I know there are a few Valencianos reading the "The Well-Tempered Blog" and hope they keep us posted.
Good luck to all.
"Imagine how different music history would have been had Mozart lived to Nannerl’s age. He would have died in 1834, having outlived Beethoven by seven years and Schubert by six. Would Beethoven’s symphonic adventures have turned out as they did had Mozart remained his contemporary? Think of this. A wizened old Mozart might have been in the audience in 1829 when the 19-year-old Chopin, during a short visit to Vienna, performed his first work for piano and orchestra, Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”
A small remembrance of something more solid, eh?
Newly developed "software grabs musical sounds and figures out how they were made. The programs go beyond individual notes, into the idiosyncrasies that define a performance and musician's style." The company (Zenph) in conjunction with Sony and the Gould Foundation will re-release Gould's Goldberg variations recording from 1955.
"Not only can it reproduce recordings, but it also fixes mistakes. "Someone can come in with limited time, do their piano track on an out-of-tune piano and miss some notes," Walker said. "Producers can come back and make it how they wish it would be."
The company has in the works similar technology for brass, percussion, and winds.
Read the rest here.
For now, I hope nobody messes with Schnabel. Let the dead rest peacefully. Fudged notes and all.
The crux: "What Apple has, then, is a subscription scheme for buying hardware - each device rapidly expires, and there is only one supplier providing a repeat purchase that's compatible with your iTunes Store purchases. What the music business wants is a subscription scheme for buying music. Somewhere, in the middle they may one day meet." Read the rest here.
I imagine that if there is a weakness it lies elsewhere.
Me? I am pretty happy with Rhapsody (the magic charm is it's convenience). I see no reason to switch to eMusic, join on to Apple, and have no interest at all in Microsoft's Zune.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Read the rest.
"While this is true in part, it seems clear that Gould needed other people in his life in a way that he did not need them for his music. He needed that telephone. He needed to hear those voices, even if the conversations were dominated by his own. Among his papers was a personal ad that he wrote, a personal ad that above all sought a voice"
Go read the rest of the fascinating essay here.
No this isn't a Liberace impersonation type thing. There a professional and amaeteur categories, as well as classical and pop categories for the competition. The deadline has passed for entry applications. But it is a yearly event, you get a certificate of participation, and it sounds like it would be a lot fun. Plus competitors in the "Classical" category get to performan on a Bosendorfer.
Candelabras are optional. : )
More information about it here.
Vegas ! What more can I say.
Read all about it here.
Lythgoe passed away at age 79 on September 4th. He was known as Britain's answer to Liberace, a taste-maker in the 60's, host of several popular radio and television shows.
And then "..in 1976, he abandoned most performance and moved to Cleveland to become director of a children's school offering lessons and music therapy to the underprivileged. Ten years later, he moved to New York and spent the last two decades of his life directing a charity that brought classical music performances to AIDS hospices, homeless shelters, retirement homes, and schools in low-income neighborhoods."
Read rest here.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Andrew Brownell - USA
Jae-Won Cheung - Korea
Grace Fong - USA
Sung-Hoon Kim - Korea
Sunwook Kim - Korea
Tatiana Kolesova - Russia
Denis Kozhukhin - Russia
Yurie Miura - Japan
Nikita Mndoyants - Russia
Spencer Myer - USA
Siheng Song - China
Andrius Zlabys - Lithuania
There must have been some real melt downs this week.
Time to hit the snooze alarm.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Slate has a bit up on their website (that I discovered via a nice catch at Deceptively Simple) about the top 10 classical music downloads on iTunes. The Slate piece badly wants to say something. You be the judge of what that is.
A few choice quotes:
"..classical music has an uneasy relationship with popularity. Listeners with a passing interest tend to value it for its soothing qualities or, conversely, for its extreme volume."
"With its warhorses and canon of great works, classical music is insulated from a lot of fads. Beethoven's Fifth will probably always be popular, and so will "Carmina Burana." But it's not so far from popular culture that a tenor whose calling card is his biography and who is backed by an effective PR machine can grab the spotlight."
Is it really that isolated from fads? Not judging by the CD covers and marketing ploys you can discover at any Borders or Barnes & Noble.
Ya know Brian Wilson once said something that seems relevant here: "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. One lick and you'll suck for the rest of your life."
On the other hand, check out this fine post on the Chicago Classical Music Blog on adding value to a classical music label's catalog:
"pianist Jorge Federico Osorio told me that for his third project on Cedille Records, he would like to record the complete Debussy Preludes. I had no doubt that his interpretations would stand among the best recorded. However, there are dozens of recordings of these popular Debussy pieces by revered pianists such as Walter Gieseking and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and many, many contemporary performers. I felt our recording would need to offer a new wrinkle on this repertory in order for consumers and critics to take notice. So I asked Mr. Osorio if he could find other piano music that might shed a different light on the Preludes: perhaps something by a composer who influenced Debussy or one who was influenced by the great French impressionist."
Read the rest here.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
"pianos are the most extreme incarnation of western rationalism. The keys are lined up in regular order, the extremely wide register matches an orchestra's, the tuning by equal temperament is done so because of cost priorities, there is a minute action of the hammers and the pedals, the steel frame supports the inside, there are taut wires, and the quality of the wood and the coating is important. Whichever factor you examine, the mechanism which has such cumbrous complexity is integrated with rational thought, but dressed in transcendental decoration."A Japanese reporter in attendance said, "I felt that it was like hunting and defeating a beast with the whole village and sharing the delicious parts with everyone"
I was reminded of "Piano Dismantling Operations" by a news blurb I saw a couple weeks ago about an "artist" in Australia who had taken a chainsaw to a piano. You can read about it here. Judging by the news reports, those in attendance did not find the parts very delicious.
And all of that reminded me of composer Anna Lockwood's avant-garde "composition" from the 1960's titled "Burning Piano". You guessed it. A piano is set on fire. Lockwood has also composed a variety of other "piano works" ("Piano Drowning", "Piano Garden").
And that leads around and about back to Australia and the "World Association of Ruined Pianos". Surprisingly. Ruined pianos do make beautiful music.
An academic in New Zealand is getting paid $140,000 to write a "cultural history" of the piano in New Zealand.
"..the book would encompass the "extreme adventures" of the piano in New Zealand - many of which were shipped out from Britain and carted through bush tracks and over streams after reaching New Zealand.It actually sounds like a very interesting project. Read the rest here.
"It's a project that I've been thinking about for a long time, to get funding for it is just fantastic," she said.
But the research is not merely a record of pianos shipped over from Britain during the colonial era - it also reveals a fascinating social history."
And on the topic of New Zealand, check out this website: pianola.co.nz Why? Pianola history and midi files. It's a recent addition to piano links section.
More fun at NZ composer Gareth Farr's website
Still early, but all of the my first impression cold-picks have made the cut. BBC has broadcasts available (details here). Too bad it's not quite as a tech-savy as the last Cliburn. Ah well...
Is it still to early for dead-pool bets? If you've thoughts, favs, pans and picks, drop a comment.
Good luck to all!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
"the ability to play the piano without felt hammers, plectrum, fingers, or any other traditional method of physical excitation."
Pictures, audio clips, and a detailed explanation can all be found here.
"The audience for Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Usher Hall last week knew nothing of the tragedy that preceded the performance by Sir Charles, one of the world's greatest musicians and a longtime favourite in Edinburgh."
" Take the music of Robert Schumann. Add the works of Berg, some early Schoenberg and, for good measure, Mozart. Put it in a blender ... "
Now that's pretty good. Maybe not as a good as this, but pretty good. It's from an interesting piece on the American composer Leon Kirchner. Read the rest here.
" The Competition, compared in stature to that of the classical Tchaikovsky and Van Cliburn Competitions, is the most prestigious jazz competition in the world, and is widely known for discovering the jazz stars of tomorrow. "
"National Public Radio said it will end production and distribution of "Performance Today," the most popular classical music program on the air, and eliminate 11 jobs in its Washington headquarters as a result."
"The move is another sign of classical music's diminished role at NPR and its affiliated stations. Many public stations, including WETA-FM (90.9) locally, have dropped daily classical programming, including "Performance Today," in favor of news and talk programs."
Read the rest here.
And more here: "In recent years many US public radio stations have been reducing airtime for classical music or eliminating it from their schedules altogether in favor of news, features and talk programs. This trend has alarmed classical music lovers, but the stations generally report that their listenership increases in the wake of such changes."
"Italians have quite a history of doing well in this contest (especially ones with high cheekbones, for some reason) and there are even two British candidates for patriotic pianophiles to cheer on if so inclined."
More exciting that that is news she's at work on a novel centered about a young pianist's life.
Maybe this is the year Brits get lucky at Leeds?
Read it all here.
It's currently playing the Toronto International Film Festival.
"Branagh has mounted this production in as provocative a manner as Mozart did in his time, not only through modern staging but also by having it performed in English. The film features James Conlon conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and a cast of rising young superstars including the Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser, American baritone Benjamin Jay Davis and British soprano Amy Carson. If Branagh adapting Mozart might seem unlikely, he responds to the material magnificently, convincing us that this opera indeed benefits from a novel re-staging. Mozart's music has never sounded so timeless."
Details and more here.
Friday, September 08, 2006
ChenXin Xu has a very nice webpage. At least a nice splash page. The links on her site, as of this post, are not active. You can hear some of her playing here.
Best of luck to all !
About adopting a homeless piano, one otherwise bound for some landfill.
I have just started in this picture pulling out the keys and action. My technician says it has balls. I think she knows what she's talking about. And so the rebuilding adventure begins in earnest.
It's built by Heller sometime before 1905. (The serial can't be found in the atlas). I'll keep ya' posted.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Here's the list of competitors. (It includes some relatively new faces to the competition circuit, more than a few who surely must be pushing against the upper-age limit for most competitions (Roberto Plano) and more than mere smattering of those who didn't make the cut at the last Van Cliburn International Piano Competition):
Soo Jung ANN
Daniel DE BORAH
Elizabeth Joy ROE
Mimi Jue WANG
Chen Xin XU
My quick pick going into it is the incredible Chu-Fang Huang. It will also be interesting to see how Maria Mazo fares after having put all her eggs in one basket, always a big gamble, with a single work (Beethoven's Hammklavier) at the Cliburn, she strikes me as worthy a serious second hearing.
And hear them you can via the BBC Radio. Very nice.
Their back. Big time (as'Kath' Knight' would say).
Check out their website for tour dates. And while there don't miss a clip they've posted of their performance on Saturday Night Light doing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". You find it here.
Also worth seeing this summer was "Ween" and "The Flamming Lips". Why? Less scripted sounding (TFL) then usual and amazing to see them together playing a state fair (NY). Did I say it was amazing? But I will still take the Roches over either any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
What are you doing to celebrate? I'm adopting a homeless piano
and dropping a couple of links:
National Piano Foundation
National Piano Travelers Association. Check 'em out, folks.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
discordant population doomed to oldfolks homes, bars, church basements,
poolhalls, funeral parlors—or more mercifully abandoned
on back porches where at least chickens could nest, or the cat have kittens."
Read the rest of this haunting poem here.
Friday, September 01, 2006
"Although he recalls having "a weird sensation in my hand," it wasn't until Iturrioz was accepted to the preliminaries of the 1977 Van Cliburn Piano Competition in Fort Worth that the truth became apparent. He had damaged the cartilage and would have to undergo years of physical therapy.
It took about three or four years but my solace was I became a left hand musician," he said, "and even though I recuperated I still feel a deep affection for this music and I continue to play it."
Read the rest here.
Better yet! Check out the website for the DVD. The site includes video clips of some of the exciting performances found on the DVD. Find it here:
The Art of the Left Hand
This past week marked the work's 54th birthday. Here's a tasty link that leads you to all and many varied things on the web related to Cage's infamous work. Includes a link to a website where you can even spend 5 bucks or so to own the "score".