Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Speaking of Games: Playing the Harpsichord with Your Wii

Yes, you read that right.

Read all about it right here (and see a video demo).

Now.. What if you combined it with the piano gloves?

Beethoven and the Game Show

Sales of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony have risen by nearly 300 per cent after a pair of celebrity conductors directed the masterpiece in the BBC's television series, Maestro

Read all about it here.

So much nicer than "Hole in the Wall" Frome the casting call: "This show does not require trivia knowledge only your creativity in fitting your body through a hole in a wall!"



check it out

Light-Paint Piano Player from Ryan Cashman on Vimeo.

Iturbi International Piano Competition New

Final round of Spain's Iturbi International Piano Competition will soon be getting underway. The finalists have been announced -and happily not a one will be playing the Rach 3.

The finals will be also be broadcast over the Internet.

Details here

Yu Mi Lee - Tschaikovsky no1
Marianna Prjevalskaya - Chopin no1
Angelo Arciglione - Chopin no2
Angel Cabrera - Chopin no2
Zhengyu Chen - Lisz no1
Soyeon Kim - Tschaikovsky no1

The Other Liberace: Lang Lang

And there's this to mull.

The pianist has toned down the antics that once made his performances unwatchable. But, sensitive musician that he can be, he still finds musical structure elusive. His Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 on Saturday vacillated between fast and flashy and slow and self-regarding. While ravishing to the ear, his languorous way with the slow movement came close to impeding the music's natural flow.
 I'm almost thinking it's time to give listening to him another go.


Blog of the Day

It's WTB approved goodness.

Check it out

Interchanging Idioms

About Those Emmys

First off. Out of the box. Let's agree that the whole Josh Groban "thing" was painful. (So painful I stopped watching). And it didn't get much better when I read the the list of winners in the next morning's print.

Michael C Hall was flat out robbed.

Breaking Bad is a great series and Cranston an excellent actor. But better than Hall or the series Dexter?

TV junkie alert. I'm already getting sucked into "Fringe", the new series that inhabits a space somewhere between "X-Files" and "Torchwood".

The Kings of Bling

A video clip from the Liberace Competition.

Check it out right here

And winners of the 2008 Liberace Piano Competition
Christopher Carter of Huntsville, Ala., took home $1,000 for first place in the showmanship division, the only division open to professional performers.
Ashlee Young, a 21-year-old from Billings, Mont., won the open division, open to college students studying music. The two other winners were 8-year-old Abigail Verghese of Henderson, Nev., and 17-year-old Carmen Lai of Las Vegas.
 more here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Improvisation A Day

Pianist Eric Barnhill has a fine little blog that features on an almost daily basis an improvisation in the "classical music" style.
Says Barnhill, "My improvisations tend to begin with melodic motives and fragments. When improvising I feel more like an onlooker, as these components I’ve introduced coalesce into themes and melodies, then break down into new fragments that came out of the previous activity. Harmonic structures open and close like an accordion."

Surf's up!


And From Our Man in the Science Hall: Piano Gloves!

Nice idea gone astray. But, then again, for 70 bucks what's glitch band got to care?
The Finger Keyboard Gloves are USB powered gloves that can create music by tapping your fingers on any surface. Each finger creates a different musical note. There are multiple instrument voices that can be replicated and learning modes to help teach you how to use the gloves. The battery for the gloves can be charged via any USB port?

MTV Unplugged.. Move Over

There's a new cool in town

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Morning Commute and Practice Time



This piano scares me

Check it out.


Speaking of Sounds from the Future

Here's a "back-to-the-future" moment for lover's of the harpsichord. Oh the magic!



My kind of pianist

Chunky, amiable and articulate, he seems blissfully free of the neuroses that plague his breed, and he's refreshingly down-to-earth about the perils and pressures of his calling.
Who? Lars Vogt. One of my favs.

Deets are here.

scientists of sounds from the future

You can read the article. Or just watch this video. Note: It's long, but worth it.

brief encounters

More from the taste and personality front.

"music is the primary topic of conversation when strangers get acquainted. Researchers concluded that discussion of music is so prevalent because people can form quick and accurate impressions about another’s personality from a brief discussion of music. They also noted that music preferences revealed different information than is obtained from other brief encounters by strangers."
From my own experience, this rings pretty true.  Read the rest here.

So what does you iPod say about you? I would like to ask the person who stole my iPod 2 weeks ago. And then punch them. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Resurrection: Music from Ancient Greece

Fascinating! computer-modelling project has been successful in recreating the sound of the harp-like Epigonion musical instrument from Ancient Greece. Researchers associated with the project named ASTRA (Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application) say that they have even performed one of the oldest known musical scores dating back to the Middle Ages.


As the Piano Turns

This looks absolutely whacked. So much so that I'm intrigued.

What is it? The Korean soap opera called "Beethoven Virus"

Read all about it here.

Canadian Idol

Noted with interest:

The 22-year-old classical music student carved a niche for himself with power ballads and soaring vocals - usually from behind the piano. He even managed to impress R&B star John Legend at a recent one-on-one workshop in New York.
Deets here.

If in Indianapolis

Then you've a date and a name to remember:

Sept. 21.  Michael Kirkendoll.

 He'll be performing Alfred Schnittke's Concerto for Piano and Strings.


Ear Candy

If you're one of those "golden ear" types who can't live with an mp3 file encoded at anything less 256 kbps sampling rate, then I've good news.

..the launch of Passionato -- a new classical music download store that offers music encoded in the lossless FLAC format, typically with bit rates eight times greater than those from iTunes. It's got catalogues from big classical names, including Naxos, Universal Classics and Jazz, Decca, BBC Worldwide, Capitol USA, Blue Note and EMI Classics.

It's the work of former Baltimore Symphony Orchestra president James Glicker, who told the BBC that the closure of traditional music stores, combined with the rising numbers of attendees at classical performances, acts as his motivation.
Happy online shopping.

Read all about it here.  Here's the link to Passionato

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Your Morning Liberace Alert

Soderbergh is reportedly set to make a Liberace biopic with Michael Douglas in the starring role. Matt Damon is supposedly wanted for the role of Thorson, the man who sued the King of Bling for "palimony".

Details about it here.

Whatever happened to that Liberace film that Nicholas Cage was looking to make? Hmmmm.

The Virtuoso Computer

Perhaps a computer with a midi setup really is better than a mere mortal pianist with just 10 lousy fingers. Take for example this new recording of works by Xenakis:

"...conductor Daniel Grossman's attempt with this new release to realise these five keyboard works using MIDI technology with a degree of accuracy previously unattainable by the means of physical dexterity alone. Grossman's position as the single mind behind these realisations does satisfy the implicit request of the composer that a unified voice interprets these scores (he could easily have spread the music across two or three pianos). Yet the occasional rigidity and bluntness of the sounding result takes away somewhat from the whole project."

Read the rest here.

Surf's Up!

Spend sometime visiting the Otterhouse!

The Otterhouse, a website out of the Netherlands, is really something of a "rescue" site for classical vinyl from the last century. All of them works that have largely been forgotten, tossed out, or relegated to some dank basement. It is updated each week, giving a particular artist a new lease on life, with a fresh LP to MP3 transfer. But you will also want to check the essays that also accompany the site.

It's your "must click" destination for today.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Music in the House of Wittgenstein

This looks to be a great read.

I've long admired Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy (at least his later work), and I've been intrigued by Paul Wittgenstein, a pianist who lost his right arm in World War 1, who nonetheless went on to pursue an international concert career. Many great composers of the last century composed works for him -Ravel, Prokovieff, Britten, Korngold, and many others.

So it was with no small interest that I cam across mention of a new book titled "The House of Wittgenstein" in the Times Review.

"Alexander Waugh's rich and wide-ranging study, The House of Wittgenstein, weaves together the stories of many of Ludwig's siblings and other relatives, but at its core is the biography of the pianist Paul Wittgenstein...Paul, the closest sibling in age to Ludwig, had some of his younger brother's qualities: asceticism, an iron will, an inability to dissemble, and a sometimes comical unawareness of how the world worked."
Read the rest here.

It's going straight to the top of my reading list for this fall.

Check out this remarkably comprehensive website dedicated to music for the left hand. The site also includes a biographical sketch of Paul Wittgenstein -to whom the site is dedicated.

Monday, September 08, 2008

New to the WTB Blogs of Distinction

Opera Chic.

Click.Read.Bookmark. It's bloggy goodness.

Paging Tim Gunn

This is totally a job for the "Project Runway" crew to tackle.

Well, classical musicians are as aware as anyone of society's obsession with image. Attractive sponsorship opportunities sometimes materialise from designer brands keen for the classy endorsement of musical stars: Rolex has enlisted the likes of the handsome young conductor Gustavo Dudamel for its adverts, for example. Besides, the arrival of the 21st century has left many asking themselves why they are still dressing for the 19th.


Project Runway Homepage


In an odd way, Wilhelm Kempf reminds me a bit of Red Skelton. Just a little. No?

Evenings with Martha

Candy for the DVD. Martha Argerich.

Before the final fade into the frumpy side of greatness, a little magic.

"The French title for this 2002 film, "Conversation Nocturne," is more evocative of the prize-winning documentary's poetic quality. Director Georges Gachot centered the hour-long portrait on an informal, night-owl cafe talk with Martha Argerich -- a living legend, if there are any left in classical music. He doesn't ask probing questions of this most enigmatic and media-shy of major musicians, and there is no outside commentary. But, switching from French to English and back, the pianist alights on key topics, dissecting herself bemusedly. With Gachot having gained the trust of a friend, the camera reveals her bohemian incandescence. Argerich flirts naturally with the lens, as beautiful women can."


Bros before ... ?

File this one under "amusing".

"I put music over women - the piano is a life-long partner for me because it does not answer back," said Jürgens whose career spans five decades"


Beethoven's last piano work

It's out now on CD. All 54 seconds of it.

Deets here.

McCallum said he believed the piece was written in October 1826, five months before Beethoven died. "It's got a few little unusual harmonic features which we don't normally associate with Beethoven," he said.

Cedric Tiberghien

The Man Who Would Be Bling

This week the semi-finals for the 2008 Liberace Competition get underway. And here's an interesting profile of one of the hopefuls. Link

Everything You Wanted to Know About Harpsichord, But Were Afraid to Ask

This looks absolutely awesome.


Get Your Pod On

With pianist Stephen Hough
"I think Rachmaninov is the star of any concert he's in", says Hough.

Download the proms podcast with him here. (check that shirt out)


A fine write-up of Hélène Grimaud appears in the online edition of the UK's "Independent".

Wolves, she says, have become her extended family, "which for someone with misanthropic tendencies like me has been very helpful. But it's a privilege to relate to an animal like that, and there's something very musical in it – you need the same quality of concentration. In both cases you're trying to interact with a being which is completely other." Does she look into their eyes? "Not always – with a wolf that can be a serious faux pas – you must let them initiate contact. Every action has to denote respect, with nothing overly familiar, no breach of etiquette. And it's the same with a piece of music. You have to be 100 per cent into the exchange, somewhere between contemplation and meditation."

between contemplation and meditation. I like that. It's exactly what I not just in her playing, but that of all the pianists I admire.

Read it all here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

From the Academy of Ancient Science

This just doesn't look fun. No way. No how.

A Match Made in Heaven: Classical Music and Heavy Metals Fans

This really can't be right! I loathe heavy metal. According to a new study fans of classical music and heavy metal share identical personality traits.

""I was struck by how similar fans of heavy metal and classical music really are," he said. "Apart from the age differences, they were virtually identical. Both were more creative than other people, both were not terribly outgoing and they were also quite at ease." He speculated that both types of music have a sense of theatricality about them which may appeal to similar types of people."

Read the rest here.

Beethoven of Bust: Something for the iPod


Deets here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Who Should be Classicalized

It's not everyday you get to vote which pop star should be "classicalized" (ouch).

September will, in the UK at least, see the issue of Songs Without Words, a collection of pop-rock hits that have been "classicalized." David Bowie, Sting, Coldplay—all your middlebrow favorites, given the ultimate middlebrow treatment.
Read more and make your vote here.

chopin south of the border

The Chopinana Festival gets underway in Buenos Aires.

Details here.

who needs lang lang

piano gadgets for tots

Yikes! There is something mighty scary in that kids smile.

Read all about it here.

 But if you really wanna get high-tech, you can play a toy piano online. Find that coolness right here.