Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happy Birthday !

Mozart? Nah.

Schubert? Nope.

The Well-Tempered Blog !!

This humble blog is now 1 year old. That's ancient I suppose in "Internet years"

"When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick. " - George Burns

The Carnival of Music

The big top has folded, moved on, and is under new management.

Details are here.

Thanks again TexasBestGrok for getting it started.

James Bastien, Dead at 71

I was taken back by some sad news. The recent passing of pianist and pedagogy-guru James Bastien.

"With his wife, also a pianist, Bastien wrote more than 300 books of piano repertory and technique. Published in several series, among them Bastien Piano Library, Bastien Piano Basics and Music Through the Piano, the books include "Piano for the Young Beginner," "Theory & Technic for the Young Beginner" and "Musicianship for the Older Beginner." Read the rest.

His daughter Lori Bastien maintains a piano teaching blog. You'll find it here.


I thought I heard something slight, faded, and remotely cosmic.

And I did:

"The world's slowest concert, scheduled to take 639 years, picked up pace yesterday when a newchord echoed from the organ inan abandoned church in eastern Germany." Read the rest.

Yes, it's John Cage's maddening ambition called "Organ 2/ASLSP".

Monday, January 30, 2006

Joe 90

Who knew? Details. Why isn't that on BBC America?

Saturday, January 28, 2006


If you were there, you saw one of the best gifts offered up for Mr. Mozart's birthday. Where? Boston, of course, and the inimitable Richard Dyer has the details here.

And, on the topic of Mozart's birthday, Alex Ross gets it just about right(Mozart prolly wouldn't be dead, just hosting a crappy reality show on MTV) in suggesting: "If you really want to celebrate Mozart's world, Mozart's culture, Mozart's life, you would ignore the man himself and listen to music by a living composer. If you're not in the habit of doing so, I'd urge you to pay a little heed to modern composition over the next few days or weeks." Alex has some fine recommendations from the usual suspects. But, set those aside, and consider a splended little 2 CD set called "Night of the Living Composer" put out by the New Music Works Ensemble. You can order it directly from NMW here (giving the added of bonus not putting your money in to the coffers of the labels). If you're a composer, take note! NMW is looking for a few good scores.

Oh.. .. Happy Birthday Mr. Mozart. Anyone for cake?

Barenboim hospitalized in Berlin

Some unfortunate news this morning:

"Daniel Barenboim, 63, conductor of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, remained in a clinic Saturday in the German capital, a day after he was rushed to hospital half an hour before a Mozart 250th anniversary gala concert." More here.

Barenboim, the widely estemmed Argentine pianist and conductor, recently won the classical music world's elite Siemen's Music Prize (the award money he has comitted to renovations of Berlin's State Opera and his Music Education Foundation. He finishes up his time with the Chicago Symphony this years and is rumored to have his eye on Muti's old post at La Scala.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Who dosed Pinchy's water bottle

Nice post from "Night After Night":

"In a fairly rabid interview that appeared in the Orange County Register last week, Zukerman unloaded both barrels at the period-instruments movement... or "historically informed performance" (HIP), in the current nomenclature. "I disagree with everything they do," Zukerman said. "From the minute I heard that in 1972 until today (I said), 'What the (expletive) is that? These are professional musicians?'"

Ouch. Double Ouch.

Virtual Virtuosi

Fascinating. Really.

(props to In Which Our Hero for pointing the way).

Beethoven's Hair

Check out this multimedia website "Beethoven's Hair" which charts the remarkable journey of a lock of hair cut from Beethoven's mane. I came across this link on Christopher Foley's fine "Collaborative Piano Blog".

The Mozart Effect?

Unconcluding Unscientific Postscript Concerning Mozart and My Dogs.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Obessions: Penguin Guide

I think I'll take a pass.


Jazz piano: on the net

Taking a page from similar programs there's now Jazz piano instruction available over the Internet.

His latest innovation, due to start in a couple of weeks, will be to set up video cameras around his piano, record himself playing a segment of a lesson, and e-mail one-minute video clips to students. He intends to use Skype, a cult hit of the Internet that enables users to make free computer-to-computer phone calls, as the communications medium.. Read the rest.

Tubby Tuba

Check out the 8 foot tuba.

Tenuous at the moment.

Grand plans for the ailing San Francisco Opera. Details.

And, speaking of SF reminds, to recommend stopping by the ever interesting TSR (The Standing Room) for some NYC bloginations and more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Didn't He Wear A Wig?

It is quite true that many a pianist makes the woeful mistake of underestimating the difficulties of negotiating Mozart's music. But another error, one less easily forgiven, arises not from the content but frame a musician applies to Mozart's music. And so it seems to me an excellent review by Wolfram Goertz gets it just about right.

" He made us suffer. We wore ourselves out rehearsing his music. He lay there, so shiny and pure, the shimmer of his enigmatic beauty was so unbearable. We were simply too young for him. When, to our relief, Beethoven's booming epics were set down in front of us we put Mozart, the apollonian stranger, aside.....For Mozart you could hardly be mature enough, and those who were had a hard time finding their way back to him."

Goertz serves up bruising, and well deserved, comments on a couple of recent recordings of Mozart's music. On pianist Martin Stadtfeld's recording of Mozart piano concerti: "Stadtfeld seems so lost that you want to send him right back to Bach before any more damage is done. Here he has composed his own cadenza and its banging chords and unrefined sequences are reminiscent of an early Beethoven who just failed his composition exam." And of violinist Hillary Hahn: "With virtually every stroke she shows that her strings are made of steel and can be electrified unpleasantly and continuously by short, sharp shocks of vibrato".

Goertz may be on to something in his observation that: "Perhaps where Hahn and Stadtfeld go wrong is that they don't have teachers any more. Or if they do, they're the type who have to be able to do the whole repertoire, from Bach to Prokofiev. For Mozart, general scholarship isn't enough. He demands more labour-intensive, exclusive attention."

Read the rest of this fine essay here.

A couple of Mozart recordings I love that I'm not sure Goertz would approve of are by pianist Fazil Say. Say's recording of Mozart's piano concerti 12,20, 23 is a keeper. And his no. 20 shows just how far off the mark most pianists fall with this particular concerto. But never far from my CD player is his recording of Mozart sonatas and variations. This is Mozart with wit and blood in the veins.

Jean-Philippe Collard

One of my favorite pianists. His recording of Ravel's piano music is a must-have for any piano lover.

I came across an interesting interview with him. What I found most interesting was his account of meeting the great Robert Casadesus:

"My parents knew Mr. Casadesus, and one day my mother took me to his Paris apartment to play for him. Perhaps he could give some good direction."He was disappointed to find a very cold and severe man. Still, for half an hour, he poured his best into Casadesus's piano. When he stopped, the older man was silent for a moment. Then he asked Madame Collard how old her son was. When she told him, his response was devastating: "Good, you are still young enough to change your life and take up something other than music."

Below. The. Belt.

Read the rest here.


Adam Tendler, mentioned previously here on WTB, turned up recently in New Hampshire. A short write up on his on-going trek is found here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Today's Web Pick

Scoot over and spend some time at the website of duo pianists Richard and John Contiguglia. Lately I've been listening alot to piano four-hands and duos. And some of the best is served up by these fine musicians. Of particular interest is their long association with Grainger's music, an association that started with a visit by Grainger to their hometown in Upstate New York.

You'll find a link on their site to an all-too brief excerpt from their handling of Percy Grainger's "Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess".

All that and more here.

Barenboim Interview

An interesting and wide-ranging interview with pianist/conductor Daniel Barenboim is found online here.

A shrug at the HIP crowd: "Those who argue for strict historical authenticity balk at his approach to playing Bach, for instance, to whose piano works he happily adds extra bass octaves. "You have to take into account that it was not written for the Steinway of the 21st century," is his response, "so I think it's perfectly legitimate so long as it fits stylistically. But all these rules about original instrumentation and composers' intentions - it has become an ideology. That's no less dangerous than a fundamentalist state. It gives an answer to everything, even when there is no question."

True enough...


Sunday, January 08, 2006

The BBC and Bach: A Success?

Over three million listerners tuned into to listen to the music of Bach. "BBC Radio 3 does not have listenership figures for the marathon, which included all of Bach's surviving works, because ratings are not calculated for the Christmas period. But the radio station's web site, which includes streaming audio, received a record 3.1 million page views during the marathon." Link.

And that means? A different take on the matter is found here.

Ivory Grin: Mozart's Skull

Mozart's skull, if it is his, keeps its secrets. According to a news reports, " forensic scientists was unable to draw any conclusions because no DNA connection could be found between niece and grandmother." Details. More here. While out and about visit the "The International Mozarteum".