Monday, December 29, 2008

About that buzzing you hear...

What's Bart Listening to - the Pop Edition

For quite sometime I've been enjoying the music of "Bookmobile", a laptop duo that turns out some of the very best ambient electronic music about. Glitchy sonic morphing that just feels right.

If  they are playing in your neck of the woods, then you can mark it down as a show not to be missed.

You can learn more about "Bookmobile" including a fine mp3 audio download via their website (which is in serious need of updating!). LINK.
And the wiki for the duo.

Brendel's Departure

Unless you've been completely out of the loop, you no doubt already know that the great Alfred Brendel gave his last public performance this month.
And the Guardian has a splendid review of it for those of us who couldn't be there.

Never having heard Brendel live, I know his playing only thru his recordings. Yes, I love his richly praised Beethoven and Schubert recordings. But it's his early recordings, especially of Liszt, that
I enjoy the most. You can find some of the very best of it here.

Deep Thought for the Day

"A pianist should never take the performance out of his pocket instead of out of his heart." - Artur Rubinstein

DIY: Glenn Gould's Chair

I just came across a remakable post detailing one blogger's effort to re-create Glenn Gould famed chair. Fully illustrated and well-written it's well worth a visit. link

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Things to Do with Your iPhone

This is certainly something I didn't see coming... Then again not surprising really.

 Read all about using the iPhone as an instrument via the might fine "My Music Tech" blog.


and there's this iphone guitar making some lovely ambient music

Stravinksy - at the piano and on the podium

SF Examiner is running a fascinating series by Scott Foglesong on the topic Stravinksy as conductor and pianist that's well worth your time.  Link

And here's a little bit of Stravinsky at the podium

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Faces to watch 2009: Classical music - Really?

The LAT has up an article on who to watch 2009. The list is comprised of just 3 individuals: Yannick Nézet-Séguin (conductor), Danielle de Niese (soprano); Nico Muhly (composer).

That's it? 2009 looks then to be sorely disappointing. If you ask me all three can pack their knives and go. Sezet-Sequin perhaps. de Niese, give it sometime. Muhly? That's so last milenium...

Who do you think's worth watching in 09? I'll post my own list down the road and we can compare notes.

Christmas Past

I had meant to post this before the 25th, but alas....

What is it? A link to a remarkable web treasure that explores the wonderful and whacky world of Christmas with Liberace. You 'll find plenty of audio clips from "Christmas card recordings", decorations, cards, and more.

Check it out.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deep Thought for the Day

"You don't need C major to find eternity."


All that and more in this tasty piece. Check it out. Link

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Master Class Notes

Oh. Snap.

"A young Chinese pianist was showing his wares in the finale of Prokofiev’s Sixth Piano Sonata and Liszt’s First Piano Concerto. Krainev listens to long takes (an entire movement and more) before making his comments. And he does not mince words or pull punches, which are not lost in translation either. “You play too many wrong notes!” Ouch. “It is marked Vivace, but you play Allegretto, so it sounds very boring. Do you know what boring means?” Double ouch."

Ouch indeed. Read the rest over here on the inimitable Flying Inkpot.

Free to a Good Home: Adopt-a-Piano

Dang! Piano adoptions! Why didn't I think of this? It's brilliant.

The sites mission:

"Piano Adoption is a free site where you can find a home for your unused piano. Give the gift of music to a family in search of a starter piano or an institution such as a church, school or retirement home in need of a piano. For every piano that is unwanted or no longer used, there may be dozens of potential recipients in your area. Piano Adoption is dedicated to finding a new home for your serviceable pianos before they end up in the local landfill.  "

Point your peepers here and find a piano in your area.

You're not Just Playing It, You're Wearing It

Get you uber-geek on with the a wearable toy piano. You'll have to a little work as it's a DIY project.
The instruction (or should that be pattern) for it is found here. More info is found here.

via YouTube you can see it in action:

What's Bart Been Listening to Lately?

Jim Reeves - I Fall to Pieces
Schumann - Carnival
Yo La Tengo - Tears Are In Your Eyes
Granados - 6 Cantos
Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing
Liszt - Piano Concerto no. 1

Hamster + Piano

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Piano - Sculpture

What's Bart Been Listening To ?

Colin Mcphee - Suite in Six Movements
Messiaen - Visions de l'Amen
de Falla -  Danse De La Frayeu
Schubert - Sonata Op. Posth. D960
Brahms -Sonata in f op 5

Monday, December 08, 2008

Smell Ya Later

A music competition that revolves around smell.

You'll find the website for it here.

The daughter of Clive Christian came up with the idea for a music competition inspired by the perfume. The Sound of Perfume, she calls it. Naff? Perhaps, but the composition students at the Royal College of Music invited to enter are taking the assignment seriously.
Give it a peep and judge for yourself. Asked and unanswered in all of this is the connection between smell and sound.

Paging Scriabin.

economics and steinway

If you were wondering how the "global recession" affects piano sales, then you might be intereted in this blurb on Steinway and Sons.

A credit ratings agency on Monday lowered its outlook for piano maker Steinway Musical Instruments Inc. because of concerns that consumers won't spend on big-ticket items in a deteriorating economy.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


some I missed this one.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

out and around blogsville

More about that "mystery piano" found abandoned in the woods can be found here

And is Claudio Abbado the greatest living conductor? Not sure I'm buying that. Deets here.

History's most misunderstood novel? Answers can be found here. And I'm buying it.

A knuckle bustin' etude from the blogospher's own can be found here. (Nice stuff!)

Need to alienate your audience? Look (er, click) no further than here.

In the mood for Christmas? Put your peepers here.

And, yes, Virginia Camile Paglia really does suck. Deets

And a might mighty fine blog that I've added to the WTB "Blogs of Distinction" list
can be found here. (Cheeky Monkey!).

Music to Warm You on a Winter Evening

In a word: Glorious!

Speaking of Eye Candy

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the dollar value some folks attach to a spinet.

In my off-line life and travels, a question I'm frequentlyasked  is what "type" of piano I'd recommend someone buy. My advice is always to avoid the spinet. Better than the spinet, even better than a "baby" grand in my opinion, is the tried and proved "upright". I very much like the Pleyel uprights (but that's a topic for another day). It's doesn't even need to be a brand spanking new one. With a little care, love, and money even an upright destined for the landfill can be transformed into a wonderful instrument.

Not far behind them is can be found a digital solution. What I mean here is not the typical stand alone "digital piano", but rather a combination of a decent keyboard controller and top notch piano samples.

Some of the best piano samples are those by PMI and SampleTekk (which now distributes the PMI samples). Likely as not, you have already heard them in many film and CD productions. These are wonderfully recorded -note for note, velocity layer upon velocity layer- "replicas" of an actual piano.
In my opinion these are vastly superior to the canned piano sounds of most "digital pianos". So for those unable to buy a "real" piano, I am more than happy to recommend a sample solution. Samples open up other possibilities as well. There are excellent samples of fortepianos, harpsichords, and organs to tickle your fancy.

There is a fine recording of the Bach WTC using samples recorded by John Grant that's well worth checking out. You'll find it here.

Another interesting development are "vst" instruments for computer based keyboard musicans. No less than Steinway has given their nod of approval to the concept. See for example the Garritan "Steinway". You find more about it here.

Eye Candy for Piano Lovers

Point your peepers here.

What's Bart listening to right now?

Sofronitzki play the great Schubert B flat Sonata.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You Tube Goes Classical! Meet the "YouTube Symphony Orchestra"

This is a welcome and exciting bit of news!

The video-sharing website YouTube will take classical music out of pricey concert halls and bring it to the masses by holding an online competition where the public chooses musicians to play at Carnegie Hall.
The competition invites classical musicians around the world to submit two videos demonstrating their musical and technical abilities, YouTube said in a news release on Monday.
 Read more about it here.

Actually, this seems to be following a path already blazed, in a fashion, by the Van Cliburn Competition for amateurs setup a YouTube channel for competitors and allowed the audience (listeners) to vote.

Here's the link to the YouTube Symphony Orchestra page.

 And, of course,  there is a video to introduce it.

Check it out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Five Dollars and Dream: Build Your Own Organ

Setting free your inner E. Power Biggs or Wendy Carlos

I actually meant to put this post up for St. Cecilia's Day, but well...... mas vale tarde que nunca, eh?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Too Early?

Beethoven on Broadway

Check it out!

Nearly half a century after swapping Broadway for Hollywood stardom, Jane Fonda is planning a return to the stage this winter in ``33 Variations,'' a mystery about Ludwig van Beethoven. Fonda, 70, will play a terminally ill contemporary musicologist who pores over Beethoven's notebooks, determined to find out why the composer spent three years turning a trivial, 45-second waltz theme by a hack publisher into the 45-minute long ``Diabelli Variations.''

I'm so going to be there for that!


Jazz Meets Scarlatti

Not really, but Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas get a fine write-up.
Scarlatti's keyboard corpus is an almost inexhaustible assembly of music and becomes infinitely inexhaustible when considering recorded performances.


Richard Hickox

Like many, I was shocked and saddened to learn of Hickox's death.


a pianist, a skull, and Hamlet

Frankly, I think I'd leave 'em my fingers...

Pianist Andre Tchaikowsky left his skull to the RSC when he died in 1982 in the hope it would be used on stage. But since his death at the age of 46, it had only been used in rehearsals.

And you?


The piano in the woods

Not quite a crop circle .... but who knows!
Massachusetts police are perplexed as to the origin of a piano, in pristine playing condition, found abandoned in middle the woods.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Charles Rosen

Just how old is Charles Rosen.....?

"One of my vivid memories of recent years is seeing the pianist Charles Rosen play Beethoven sonatas at the Royal Festival Hall, at a time when he was almost 80. If ever a man had a claim to "seasoned wisdom", it's Rosen. He was a pupil of a pupil of the great Franz Liszt and has written two of the very few books on classical music that deserve to be called great."

Student of Liszt?


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red Piano Alert

Frank & Camille's Fine Pianos is even offering gift certificates to anyone who sits down at the Elton John Signature Series Red Piano and plays one of John's songs in its entirety.

Hmmm.... maybe it's time to polish up a rendition of "Your Song".


speaking of chopin

there is this to consider:

"The game goes like this: the famed composer Chopin is on his deathbed -- and as his life ebbs away, he dreams that he comes across a young girl who faces a terrible fate -- and a young boy who tries to save her."

Although I'm not sure I'd have the patience needed for it.


abstract machines

or the "body without organs"? I wonder.

And in fact, "Imaginary Landscapes IV" is an abstract machine within an abstract machine: Cage cast I Ching hexagrams to determine the tuning intervals. So someone could replicate Cage's meta-procedure to develop a "version" of the piece with different intervals.

food for thought.


and while away

I did, of course, have time to play piano. For myself. Without thought of anything or anyone else. A refuge of sorts. And, to my surprise, the music that I grabbed onto and have enjoyed is that of Chopin. Specifically, the mazurkas. I haven't played any of them in good number of years. In fact, I haven't played much Chopin at all for quite some time. One day I just picked them up to read through on a lark, and pretty much haven't stopped. I suppose, in some ways, they are tied up with a certain nostalgia. A time past. No doubt consonant with the "space" I inhabit now. So lovely. So short. Speaking directly to the heart. That is how I've come to think of them.

While Away

Thanks everyone who sent an email or left a comment while gone.

My time for the past year and half has been consumed with a family member's battle with cancer. In between the surgery and the many doctor appointments, I haven't had much enthusiasm or time for anything else. But I have enjoyed reading others blogs over this time. And I look forward to keeping up with the pace you've all set.

- Bart

Sunday, November 16, 2008

and back again

a long trip, a little hospital time, a little work.. and not much blogging.

Regular blogging to resume!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quality of Life Crime

Fresh from the day's crime blotter

"Andrew Vactor was arrested for playing rap music "too loudly" on his car stereo. Vactor faced a $150 fine, presumably for 'disrupting the peace', but a judge offered to reduce it to $35 if the defendant spent 20 hours listening to classical music by the likes of Beethoven, Bach and Chopin."

According to reports, Mr. Vactor could only handle 15 minutes of it.


La Carte Postale


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.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Today's WebPick

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and spend sometime visitng today's "Web Pick".

Glenn Gould: The Russian Journey

Excellent post exploring Gould's trip to the old Soviet Union in 1957 can be found here (photos and video clips as well).

Handcuffs, Richter, and Tschaikovsky

discovered via "Mindsyrups Weblog".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What it's all about

Ralph Vaughn Williams

It's the 50th anniversary of his passing.

Here's something to get your primed:

"Williams was bossy, and thought the harpsichord sucked ("never a pleasant sound"). He was also pretty stern about orchestras - or rather he imagined the orchestras that Bach faced were "ramshackle", the voices in the choir "not good", and the performances themselves "not witty". Williams was all for modern interpretations. To plonk away on a virginal through "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" was his idea of hell. He preferred the wind machine."

Read the rest of here.

The Fly - An Opera

Only in LA

"The Fly", described as a classical re-imagining of the 1986 movie about an eccentric scientist who turns into a massive fly, will open the new season at Los Angeles Opera in September with LA Opera director Placido Domingo conducting the orchestra.
Read the rest here.

Now if only Rufus Wainwright were that creative (and aren't we all glad thats over?)

LIberace's Desert Home

The king of bling's first palm springs home is for sale. And it's surprisingly a steal. Deets.

Beethoven, as I Knew Him

Something to keep your eye peeled for

In one scene, Beethoven mourns the passing of his idol, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, by playing the Requiem on the piano and singing the part of the chorus in a screeching falsetto. It's a pure camp moment that's transfixing in its Liberace-esque audacity and embarrassing in its total sincerity.

If only the play contained more such wacky moments. Mostly, "Beethoven, as I Knew Him" meanders through the composer's life without much purpose or direction.


Life on the D List

Sounds about right

Her technique was fine but not spectacular,

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From Mexico with Love: Robots, Space Ships, and Opera

Y como no?

On Point

A short, to the point, and on the money reply to the "English Classical Music is Dead" notion is provided by the Guardian's Tom Service.

I pass it along w/out qualification. check it out here.

New music debate redux over at the Times. And more whitewashing of music history into a pointless, and historically wholly inaccurate, division of tonal vs atonal, this time with a specifically English gloss: Stephen Pollard with his notion that English music died with Vaughan Williams' demise, 50 years ago today.

Music in a Strange Land

Check it out peeps. A fine and tempting review of Joseph Horowitz'  Artists in Exile: How refugees from twentieth-century war and revolution transformed the American performing art. 
Horowitz provides biographical sketches for them all, each sketch studded with quotable illustrations. (Otto Preminger, hearing a group of his fellow émigrés speaking Hungarian, said, “Don’t you people know you’re in Hollywood? Speak German.”) The result is a rich assembly, an unmasked ball teeming with famous names, but you always have to remember – and our author, to his credit, never forgets – that in too many cases their attendance was compulsory, a fact which can lend a sad note to the glamour.

This looks to be an excellent read. Read the rest of Clive James excellent review here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Day Classical Music Died ... At least English Classical Music

Thoughtful. Contentious. Well worth the read.

It's a piece by Stephan Pollard which holds that
"Classical music took a wrong turn in the period after the death of Vaughan Williams. "

And the cause
"The ruination of music as part of mainstream culture came largely because of subsidy. Composers stopped writing for their public and wrote instead for the small clique that was responsible for commissioning pieces."

I'm not sure I buy that ..The varied doom and fortune of contemporary classical music speaks against it. Consider the musics produced under other models, or lack thereof, to support classical composers elsewhere.

Further along it seems the real complaint here is that English composers nowadays are, well, English enough..
"The leading young English composer is Thomas Adès, whose opera Powder Her Face won rave reviews in 1995 and has since been repeatedly performed around the world. He has been commissioned by the likes of the Royal Opera House and the Berlin Philharmonic and has produced pieces that have won instant audience acclaim.

Adès may be English but, unlike Vaughan Williams, there is almost nothing in his music to show that. Vaughan Williams may no longer be the last to write serious music for general audiences but, as a recognisably English composer, he was indeed the last of his kind"

Deets here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Care to Place a Bet?

If you care to wager, here's something

""I challenge anyone to pick up the album and tell me that it's not as artistic and culturally significant as any piece of classical music that's been around for 300 years," he boasts. "Videogame music is the soundtrack of our generation. This is only the beginning.""

Knowing when to fold is half the game. Or so I'm told.

Read all about it here.

Listening Makes the Musician

According to a recent study, listening to music "develops some amount of musical ability within the brain." Good news for the "mozart-for-babies" crowd.

""More and more labs are showing that people have the sensitivity for skills that we thought were only expert skills," explained Henkjan Honing, a researcher behind the study to Science Daily. According to the publication, "the UvA-study shows that listeners without formal musical training, but with sufficient exposure to a certain musical idiom... perform similarly in a musical task when compared to formally trained listeners.""

Read more about it here

Haven't we always known this?

Hoodlums take note

And there's this:

"If you see any threatening hoodies heading towards you, just click it on and release the music." The youths are unable to cope with the strains of Mozart and Bach, hands over ears they retreat back to their dark corners to recover their ears with "hip hop", but it is enough, the classical music has done it's job and one more OAP is safe.

Sadly it's probably not much of stretch...


Jazz and the Parlor Pianist

I've always liked Gottschalk (and a little goes a long ways), but I'd never thought of his place in the genealogy of Jazz.

A phenomenon in his lifetime but relegated to the status of parlor pianist today, Gottschalk nevertheless was the complete package: talented, good looking, highborn. Educated at the Paris Conservatoire and a peer of Fredrick Chopin, Gottschalk carved an impressive pedigree when he hit the concert trail in the Western Hemisphere during the years leading up to and including the American Civil War.

A very fine round up of Cd's on the Naxos of Gottschalk's best works.

Read it here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Music at the Limits

Edward Said was one of the more interesting intellectual figures of the last century to attempt to seriously engage Western classical music.

And so it was with no small interest that I read that a collection of essays from the last 20 years of his life has been published.

On balance I think the TLS reviewer gets it just about right:

"To admire Glenn Gould – or indeed Alfred Brendel or Maurizio Pollini, two other pianists whom Said singles out – is not unusual, and it could perhaps be claimed that Said’s views tend to be rather Establishment ones: he writes a wholly adulatory article about Boulez, for example, without any mention of Boulez’s Jesuitical dogmaticism or his musical narrow-mindedness. Similarly, Said seems too respectful of Adorno: he makes good use of some of Adorno’s more insightful observations but also quotes a number of his tiresomely prejudicial opinions about composers he disapproved of, without criticism. But as with Boulez, it is always stimulating to disagree with Said, and reading the last essay in this book, appropriately about late Beethoven, which Said felt to be more about the opening up of new horizons than reaching conclusions, makes one sadly aware of just what a loss his premature death has been."

Radio Waves - NOT

A bit of depressing news from Canada. CBC Radio 2 is puts classical music on the chopping block to carve out room for pop, jazz, and the like.

""It's good for CBC radio to be playing a variety of musical genres," he said, "but this is a radical change. It is moving away from something only the public broadcaster can do to something many private broadcasters already do. And they are shoving classical music into the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. low audience ghetto"

Read about it (and listener reactions) here.


Where is this?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baroque women's music

It's your "must read" link for the day. A fascinating account of Laury Gutiérrez and her tireless work to rescue and perform works by female baroque composers.

"It's not that women weren't composing years ago, or aren't composing now - it's just that, with notable exceptions like Baroque harpsichordist Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, who lived in France at the turn of the 17th century, their music has remained mostly unplayed, confined for centuries to paper."

Schroeder’s Muse

It might be a wee bit of a reach, but it's fun trying no doubt.
The late “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz had a long love affair with Beethoven. In fact, he listened to his music so much while he worked — from early piano sonatas to the late string quartets — that his albums became scratched and worn over time. Those pitted records are just a few of the unusual artifacts displayed in the exhibit, “Schulz’s Beethoven: Schroeder’s Muse,” opening Saturday at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa in collaboration with the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University. The exhibit attempts to show a clear connection between the musical scores Schulz incorporated into some of his “Peanuts” comic strips featuring Schroeder and the meaning of the cartoon itself.

And if you're wondering how Schroeder and the rest of the gang turned out as adults, then look no further than the play "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead". Read all about it here.

stairway to heaven?



* 1/3 shot Kahlua
* 1/3 shot Milk
* 1/3 shot Bacardi 151 proof rum

Mixing instructions:

Pour in the Kahlua. Layer the milk on top of it. Then float the Bacardi 151 on top of the milk. Light the top of the shot. Let it burn for about 10 seconds, blow it out and shoot it.

via the online source of all things boozy The Webtender". link

Ya Don't Say

And they were expecting...?

Lang Lang and the young girl looked more like they were playing around than playing the piano. The piano was bouncing up and down very visibly as Lang Lang and the little girl played, looking more like a cardboard prop on an uneven ground than a piano.


But wait, there’s more! Offer Not Sold In Stores

12 tone music never sounded better !!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Andreas Staier

I have always liked his playing, and so I was a very happy camper to find this interview with fortepianist Andreas Staier in the online edition of DiarioVasco. (Spanish).


Staier's webpage can be found here.

Do you know Prokofiev?

Maybe not as well as you think.

Prokofiev is the subject of this year's Bard Festival and the times has a very nice write-up.

So the curators of “Prokofiev and His World” at Bard are concerned not with polishing a dull reputation or arguing for greatness but with exploring aspects of the composer’s life — including his involvement with Christian Science and his surprising decision to return to Russia in 1936 — and the musicians and trends that influenced his irresistible brand of tuneful modernism.

And you'll not want to miss visiting the "The Prokofiev Page". Find it here.

Franz Liszt

I've recently added to the WTB list of keyboard links the "Franz Liszt Site". I've no doubt you'll find it your "go-to" site for all things Liszt.

Check it out. Link.

Monday, August 11, 2008


If you love the music of Chopin -and you probably do if you're reading this blog- then you'll be excited to discover the "The Chopin Project". The site describes itself as an online "gateway to the complete solo keyboard music of Fryderyk Chopin."

You can quite easily spend hours combing thru the various essays, links, audio clips, and other resources that constitute the site. Find it all right here.

You'll also want to check out the "International Chopin Information Center". Link.

Coming to A DVD Near You: Van Cliburn

Searching for a new DVD and you are a fan of Van Cliburn?

Then take note
VAI Video enables us to experience what looks like the television broadcast of Cliburn's legendary "Winner's Concert" performance of Rachmaninov's Third Concerto. The assortment of simple camera angles, in front of and behind the pianist, a few shots of the audience (some incongruously from seemingly separately-shot footage), facing the conductor and a few others in the Moscow Philharmonic, capture the growing involvement in the performance, by both the musicians and the audience, leading in an unbroken arc from Cliburn's first hushed entrance to the triumphant close.
Read the full review here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Today in History: A Strange Music

Wired Magazine has published an article that's well worth checking out. The article explores the remarkable collaboration of composer George Antheil and actress Hedy Lamarr to invent a better torpedo. Yes, you read that right.

...Lamarr, a Viennese-born movie actress, would eventually be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Antheil, an American avant-garde composer of orchestral music and opera, lived in Paris during the '20s and counted Ernest Hemingway and Igor Stravinsky among his friends. Not exactly the kind of folks you picture tinkering with cutting-edge weapons of war. In fact, their device was way ahead of its time. Although it was patented at the height of World War II, frequency hopping relied on electronics technology that didn't exist yet. An updated version of the Lamarr-Antheil device finally appeared on U.S. Navy ships in 1962 (three years after their patent expired), and was first used during the Cuban missile crisis.
Read the rest here.

Ballet Mecanique

Still fresh after all these years..

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gabriela Montero

A fine write-up of the phenomenal pianist Gabriela Montero can be found online here.


Did Chopin suffer from cystic fibrosis?

Scientists are locked in a battle with the Polish government over their request to test the heart of Frédéric Chopin for evidence he suffered from cystic fibrosis. They believe the Polish composer was not a victim of tuberculosis, as commonly supposed, but died because he suffered from one of Europe's most widespread hereditary disorders.

I love a piano.

So bad it's good.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Lou Teicher, Dead at Age 83

Some sad news.

Louis Teicher of the popular piano duo "Ferrante and Teicher" has passed away this week.

Ferrante & Teicher charted 22 gold and platinum records, beginning with the theme from "The Apartment" (1960), and claimed to have played 5,000 concerts attended by 18 million people. If their names evoke blank stares from today's audiences, it is because, for all their wit, their music was as evanescent as smoke in a summer breeze. Some of their signature pieces can be seen on YouTube. Teicher died of a heart attack at home in Sarasota, Fla., according to a statement from the duo's manager, Scott Smith.


Music The BBC Banned

Apparently you can blame it on Arthur Bliss

"His wrath was incurred by such unlikely revolutionaries as Liberace and Mantovani, and the score of Kismet, borrowed from Borodin, which meant that MOR standards such as Stranger in Paradise and Baubles, Bangles and Beads were rarely heard. Bliss was a particularly stormy weather vane: while he considered Tony Bennett's version of Stranger in Paradise to be sufficiently tasteful (it reached No 1), the Four Aces' sprightlier version was out of bounds. Meanwhile, kids with flick knives were slashing cinema seats at screenings of Blackboard Jungle."


Let's Liberace up the Olympics!

This is almost too good to be true. David Remnick reports in the New Yorker that Lang Lang is rumored to be an opening up act for the Olympics.

Too good to be true. But then it is China.

"Lang's penchant for "moony gyrations and emotive expressions" while playing annoy classical-music critics, including the Times' Anthony Tommasini, who walked out of Lang's Carnegie Hall debut in 2003....magine this dude, dressed Liberace style, atop a column in Beijing's Olympic stadium, almost definitely playing this song, and you'll have a good idea why we never watch Olympic opening ceremonies."

My retinas burn just thinking about it.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vacation Time Ends

And I'm winging my way back to Blogsville...

Regular blogging to resume after touchdown.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birthday Card

Have some cake and celebrate "La Idea del Norte" turning 3 years old. What's that in "Internet Years"?


Zimerman 2.0

check out Jessica's post with K. Zimerman.


Gadgety. Nerdy. Possibly Lame.

Prepare to get your nerd-on:
"Files are stored onto the piano's hard drive and can be transferred via USB to a PC, and then easily burned onto a CD for in-car listening. Plus, if you hook up the piano to a TV, you can display lyrics and graphics for a song on it."
Yup, it's Yamaha made. Read the rest here.

I don't know about you, but once you get to this level of geeking out, I think I'd rather have a decent midi controller, a "real" computer, and some solid piano samples. Seriously.

Elton John's Grand Piano

Forget about break my heart. The upcoming sale of Elton John's piano is like is likely to break the piggy bank.

The Grand Piano on which Elton John rehearsed his chart topping duet with Kiki Dee "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" goes on sale next month with a price tag of up to 45,000 pound.


Juilliard Dropout Plays Skid Row, Battles Schizophrenia: The Book

This looks to be a very good read.

"The violinist was Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a black man ``with butterscotch eyes,'' a diagnosis of schizophrenia and such a passion for Ludwig von Beethoven that he often played in a spot just across the street from Pershing Square in Los Angeles to be near a 7-foot bronze statue of his idol. "
Read the full review here.

Krystian Zimerman

An encore playing superstar who ought to leave Glenn Gould to Glen Gould.

Zimerman is famous for modifying his instrument to his own specifications, but it’s not every day you see a Steinway transformed in front of your very eyes...But the rationale behind the emaciated Glenn Gould-like tone of his Bach keyboard was questionable....why reduce your vehicle to a hard-edged, pseudo-period instrument and then romanticise the music out of recognition?
Good question.


Fire Blamed on Welding

A fire that tore through the roof of the Berlin Philharmonic's landmark concert hall was sparked by welding work, investigators said Monday.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Glenn Gould is everywhere

Has any pianist ever loomed so large some 25 years after his death? Gould would have turned 75 last September, and the anniversaries have led his foundation to declare 2007-08 "The Year of Glenn Gould." But the designation is almost redundant.
Read the rest here.

No Winner at Washington International Competition for Piano

"First prize: none awarded. Second prize: Gulyak. Third prize: none awarded. Audience prize: Wayne Weng."

Details and more on the finalists found here.

William Kappell

William Kappell is gone, but hardly forgotten. Case in point. This new CD set of his Australian broadcasts.

"This is and will remain a problematic set for collectors--but have no doubts, they will buy it; and because they spent a goodly sum on an artist they adore, they will listen to it often, in spite of the sonic defects that make some moments almost unbearable." Link.

Liszt and the Beethoven Symphonies

A guide to the various recordings available of Liszt's transcriptions.

"..the pianist was brought up short on the choral finale of the famous Ninth Symphony. In a fit of frustration, Liszt observed that he may have to accept, "...the impossibility of making any pianoforte arrangement of the 4th movement...that could in any way be...satisfactory."


best of the lot I think is Liszt's handling of no6

Accompanist's accompanist

I got glimpse of this article today
Malcom Martineau has returned as musician-in-residence for the Accompanists' Guild of South Australia's 25th anniversary conference, which runs until June 1.
And that lead to a pleasant discovery of this website: The Accompanists' Guild. Check it out.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

pretty in pink


Big kudos to "the collaborative piano blog" for pointing the way.

Deets here.

crank it up

One obvious difference between rock and classical concerts is amplification. The average rock concert's volume has been measured at 120 decibels, and more and more rock music is at similar levels of amplification.

not at my recital. Deets here.

new poll

a new "Well Tempered Blog" poll is up and I'm surprised, in a way, that Steinway is in the lead. Come on all you bosie fans.

Enter the Octagon

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later. If only it were more like the UFC (yea I'm hooked on it).

Eight celebrities, including David Soul and Bradley Walsh, will compete to enter the conductor's podium at the Proms in a new BBC series.

The show will train the celebrities in orchestral, choral and operatic music and the winner will conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra at the BBC Proms in the Park.

Musician Goldie, former Blur bassist Alex James, newsreader Katie Derham, actress Jane Asher, broadcaster Peter Snow and comedian Sue Perkins are taking part in Maestro, on BBC2, alongside ex-Starsky and Hutch star Soul and former Coronation Street actor Walsh.

read the rest here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Old-time Piano Playing Contest

The "The 34th Annual World Championship Old-time Piano Playing Contest" is underway. Details and videos found here.

Meme: Meme

While out and about my blog was tagged by HurdAudio with this meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you

So here it is:

I sighed. "It's for a date," I confessed, leaning ever so slightly forward. "My first."

from The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin

I now officially pass this meme to Tenon Saw, Oboeinsight, The Collaborative Piano Blog, Paris-Broadway, Jessica Duchen.

(tap tap no erasies!!)

Back from Vacation

A long flight. A crying baby. Feels good to be "home" again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Ivory State: Texas

Piano Texas gets underway this week, and you can find a fine write-up of this world-class piano fest here here.

Chopin. A Tad Too Weepy?

The BBC Radio 3 unleashes a weekend full of Chopin. Visit the site for it here. Loads of good stuff on the site for the ear and eye.

While listening to Chopin you might ponder a fine piece on recent trends in Chopin recordings/performances appearing on the excellent TimesOnline. Link. They also have audio/clips and a poll in which you can vote for your favorite interpreter of Chopin's music. Link. Of the votes cast thus far, Cortot is clearly the winner. And, surprisingly, Murray Perahia is at a distant 2nd. I don't particularly fancy Perahia's Chopin. My own favorite is Rubinstein. And, yes, I do love the Cortot but there is something about Rubinstein that edges him out of the way for me.

And here's the key graf of so from the article:
"..The preferred modern tactic now is to fight off overexaggeration and match Chopin’s romantic agony with the classical poise of a composer in love with Bach, Mozart, inner harmonies and the clear dance of polyphony – an element certainly strong in Chopin’s make-up. “A good balance between his romantic soul and his classical expression is one of the most difficult things to achieve,” says the wise Ingrid Fliter, soloist in EMI’s most recent Chopin disc.

Stephen Hough now spies a new danger: interpretations so desperate to avoid tears that pianists opt for a steely sound quite unlike what Chopin wanted or knew. Glenn Gould, if he gave himself a proper chance, would no doubt have pulled Chopin in that direction."

Who is your favorite Chopin performer? And do you think pianists are moving toward a more clinical, if you like, approach.

cliburn update

voting ends tonight for the Cliburn YouTube competition.

Check it out here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Dark Side of Chopin

A little different perspective on Chopin.

"Chopin was a political arch-conservative, an artistic and social snob, and a dandy who hated contact with the rest of the human race."



While your waiting for more bloggy goodness from WTB, check out the Van Cliburn Foundations YouTube competition. You can find it here. Loads of good piano playing.


Enjoying some vacation time. So blogging will continue be on the light side. In the meantime, visit the WTB "Blogs of Distinction".


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Keyboard of the Future

you decide. Me? I like rather like it.

via the inimitable "WFMU Blog".

Wonder Years

I like jumping on chairs
crashing down stairs
and teaching pianos
to sing Rachmaninoff
like growling grizzly bears

It's Official

Glenn Gould kicks *ss again. That's right. Of the 48 brave souls who participated in WTB's poll "Pianist from the Past You'd Most like to Meet" Maestro Gould trounced the competition. In 2nd place, after a slow start, was Artur Rubinstein, followed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 3rd. New poll going up soon.

Out & Around Blogsville

Your Blogosphere report for April (yeah, I know I slacked and there wasn't one for March, Feb, or Jan).

So many good blogs, so little time. Here's the run down on some things that recently caught my eye. In no particular order.

I was fascinated by a post on Oscar's "Educacion Musical" blog about representations of music in time and space. Including very very tasty bit from YouTube. Nice stuff all around. Read more here

A recently discovered blog is "Mostly Opera". What you'll find here is an absolute gem of thoughtful and engaging of everything opera -from Ken Russell's "Faust" to the bugger Busoni. Give 'em some blog visit. Find it all here.

Exploring the world of pianos, musical theater, and performance is a splendid and unassuming blog titled "Matt's Little World of Pianos, Theatre, and Performance". A clever and sure footed guide to all things musical theatre for pianophiles and musicians of all stripes. Give 'em a visit. Link. Loads of good things abound here.

Interestingly, a pretty solid majority of visitors to the Well-Temepred Blog come from Spain . And that pleases me to no end. Espana is home to some of best blogs on the net. A recent gem is this fine post ("Antiquities") on the earliest known recordings over on RetroKlang. I would be distraught without "La Idea del Norte" -for it's convivial wit and perceptive writing are rare commodities. Take for example this post on the matter of rubato.

Close to home is "Music in a Suburban Scene" I was delighted to discover we share a passion for The Shaggs. Oh yea baby! Check it out here. As consolation to missing out on Radiohead, I recommend checking out the magnetic field tour. I caught up with it in Northhampton and I'm still raving.

Patti at "oboeinsight" points the way to a great read on the magic teleprompters. Hehe. (btw, the blog's new look is super!). You find it all here.

A note of thanks to Keith at "In Which Our Hero" for pointing the way to a new addition to my list of summer reads. You find it here. I can always count on a great recommendation!

Matt (of "Soho the Dog") perked my day up with this post on Bach and soy sauce. You read that right. Now click on over and read all about it. link

Surf's up! Happy reading.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From Norway with Love

The Wall Street Journal has up a fine article on Leif Ove Andsnes and his championing of Edvard Grieg's beautiful Ballade for Piano.

This work easily makes my top 10 list of favorites. I discovered the Ballade during my youth. I had a piano teacher, somewhere along the road, who used a volume called "Great Themes without Variations" (I still have it) for sight-reading exercises. One of the works was the theme from this very Ballade. It just immediately charmed me.

Mr. Andsnes observes that when Beethoven or Brahms write a set of variations, they start out with a very simple theme with relatively simple harmony. Then they make it more elaborate with each variation. But Grieg chose a haunting, melancholy Norwegian folk melody as his theme and harmonized it with exceptional richness. "It is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard, and so wonderful that it actually creates a problem: Because it is already so complete in itself, it seems hard to imagine where he can go from there."

And the places it goes!

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What ails classical music criticism

A recent post on Zach Carstensen's fine blog "The Gathering Note" asks a good question:
So why are newspapers dumping their critics? My own feeling is that newspapers, Seattle’s two daily’s included, haven’t figured out a way to fit their classical coverage to a greatly changed classical music scene and changed ways people, including the current audience for classical music, digest both music and news about said music.
That's certainly part of the puzzle, but the fault isn't entirely with the newspapers. Much of what passes for music criticism bears some of the blame. Why? Because more often than not it is tired and boorish.

The idea of Glenn

Are you devoted Glenn Gould fan? Then put your devotion to the test and take the CBC's online "Glenn Gould Trivia" quiz.

You'll find it right here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

new work by J.S. Bach Discovered!


" GERMAN scholars claimed today to have found a long-lost organ composition by Johann Sebastian Bach dating from the early days of his career.

The piece, entitled Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns haelt (Where God the Lord does not stay by our side), was found in an auction lot by professors from the Martin-Luther University in Halle, said one of them, Stephan Blaut." Read the rest here.

A Video Game for Classical Music Lovers

Jeepers! And I was just getting the hang of the whole Wii thing.
"Classical music attendees across the country are being treated to a videogame in concert halls that lets them conduct an orchestra through a rendition of the William Tell Overture, Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony or Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. The game is simpler than Guitar Hero;"
read the rest here.

and more details here:
Wave the baton too slowly and the orchestra arrayed on the screen plays the "William Tell Overture" at a crawl. Wave it too fast and the music gallops away.

Chopin and the BBC

This is good news and something to look forward to this next month.

"BBC Radio 3 is to broadcast every note written by Frederic Chopin during a weekend dedicated to the Polish composer, who died in 1849 aged 39. The Chopin Experience, which runs on 17-18 May, follows similiar tributes by the station to Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Tchaikovsky."

and of special interest: " A dedicated website, launched as part of the Chopin weekend, will feature video piano lessons by pianist David Owen Norris"

deets here.

We'll keep you posted. The calendar's marked.

A Romance on Three Legs

It's not too early to start planning your summer reading list. And if you're a fan of Glenn Gould, then like me you'll be looking forward to this one.

A Romance on Three Legs by Kate Hafner

According to the publishers jacket blurb:

"...perhaps Gould’s greatest obsession of all was with a Steinway concert grand known as CD318. To explain that relationship, which Gould himself described as “a romance on three legs,” Katie Hafner introduces us to the important figures in Gould’s life, including Verne Edquist, his longtime, long-suffering, blind tuner. She offers a fascinating history of the art of tuning, and takes us inside Steinway during the war years, when CD318 was built. And she dissects Gould’s life with the piano, from his first encounter with it to the endless coddling and tweaking that Edquist performed over the years. Hafner includes Gould’s stormy, sometimes outrageous, correspondence with Steinway, and describes his despair when CD318 was fatally dropped from a loading dock."

To be published this June. Pre-orders on the site. Link.