Sort of a music blog

random trip report


Rich pointed out the interesting Indianishe Fantasie by Ferrucio Busoni. Apparently the "Indian" refers to American Indians, though I'm not sure I hear this.


Three pieces for flute and piano by Jehan Alain.


Eric pointed out the passing of synthesizer pioneer Malcolm Cecil, who worked with Stevie Wonder.


On the theme of little-known composers, Rich pointed out "Canada's Mozart" Andre Mathieu (1929-1968). His Prelude #5.


Another great music group yesterday. Esa-Matti played The First Snow by Hannikainen; Molly played Theme and variations by Lili Boulanger. Maryse pointed out Jehan Alain, another modern French composer who died young.


Maryse made a recording of water dripping rhythmically into a pan. Monica, it turns out, had made a piece involving Nalgene bottle, a pistachio jar, and some ceramic bowls.


An NPR obit for Chick Corea.


A great video about Steely Dan.


Paolo played the Bach D minor toccatta and fugue at yesterday's BAMC, and said that a) there's doubt that Bach wrote it, and b) it might have been written for solo violin rather than organ. The latter seemed absurd to me, but there is in fact a wonderful performance by Sergei Krylov that makes it seem entirely possible. And here's a version for solo guitar and the score of the transcription.


I'm "in like" with Fugue in C HWV 610 by Handel. There are various recordings at all sorts of tempi; my favorite is this one but I think I can play it better. UPDATE: I recorded it.


A great rendition of Bach's Fugue in A BWV 949.


The Cafe Zimmermann in Leipzig hosted the premieres of many of Bach's works.


Another global group improv, this one on Georgia.


Chelsea Wong finally uploaded her excellent performance of the Bach Chaconne.


Check out After Bach by Brad Mehldau.

Bach's Prelude in G# min, vol 2, performed by the Swingle Singers.


I've been playing the Maple Leaf Rag recently. Here's a fancier version by Stephanie Trick. And also The Entertainer, and some 4-hands blues.


Dave Weinberg points out a couple of items from the Sorabjiverse:

  • A "virtual performance" (via Sibelius) of mvt 3 from from Symphony no. 2 (Jâmî).
  • Jonathan Powell released a 7 CD 8 hour recording of Sorabji's Sequentia Cyclica in January of this year. Some of it is on YouTube.

Also, Rich Kraft points out pieces from the Harriet Cohen International Music Award:


A guy plays the Moonlight Sonata but the bass is a bar late and the melody is two bars late. Sounds pretty good!

Another guy combines every recording of Gymnopedie 1. Also sounds pretty good.

A tribute to Lalo Schifrin: various people jamming on the Mission Impossible theme.


Lily pointed out Nocturn no. 4 op 38 by Lowell Liebermann, a modern American composer. Also check out his Gargoyles.


Zach pointed out that the Goldberg Variations have also been played on the accordion. I like this better than the harp.

And here it is for string trio.


Some guy plays the Goldberg variations on harp. Pass.


Karen Nelson recommended Christopher O'Brien plays Radiohead. Monica's fave Radiohead pianist is Brad Mehldau.


Lily posted this video by Nahre Sol about a practice technique where you make little compositions out of the hard parts: (Note: Sol has a whole series of videos about practice techniques).

Rich Kraft wrote: "Yup, this is an idea I picked up from more than 1 teacher I had. The way one of them put it: "Czernification" -- create the exercise that Czerny might compose (and probably did, anyway :-) ) to drill the given technical challenge. Also, "go both under and above" -- 1) Simplify the problem (e.g. decrease a jump to a much smaller one) into one you've already mastered, then 2) gradually increase the difficulty, while keeping / replicating all the *physucal sensations* of the mastered version (emphasis on sensations and NOT necessarily something obvious like hand geometry / positioning, etc) ; until 3) you not only expand to the original objective, but even go *further* that the original. This makes the original objective feel "easy" and builds great confidence. I actually brought this up when I had that talk a while back :-) "


Nikolai Kapustin has died; bummer. What a fountain of beauty and joy. If you haven't heard him, try this.


Some composers mentioned by Maryse:

  • Albert Roussel, (1900s) e.g. Suite op 14
  • Alessandro Stradella (1600s) e.g. La Forza delle stelle
  • Jose Marin (1600s) e.g.:


    Justin pointed out that Vikingur Olafson released a CD with music by Debussy and Rameau. Other stuff by him: Bach organ


    Pavane in F# minor by Louis Couperin: This is a great performance largely because of the ornamentation.


    Monica played an amazing piece, The Battle of Manassas, by Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins.


    I found this recording of Berio's "Wasserklavier" by Helene Grimaud. She uses the same "polyphonic time perturbation" technique as Chiara Bertoglio in Babylon (see below). With this, the piece becomes contrapuntal rather than chordal. Amazing.


    I stumbled on Six Encores by Luciano Berio. They're fantastic; I'm working on a couple of them. I found the score, which is here. Two people recently wrote Masters theses about the work: one from Mills College and one from Ohio State.


    This guy plays the Goldberg theme - heavily nuanced - and the computer inverts it. Do the inverted nuances have the same effect?


    Lily pointed out this recording of Beethoven's Tempest Sonata by Sokolov. We're used to hearing this sound like a horse race, So Sokolov's rendition is shocking: the tempo is slower, and there's all sorts of articulation. But I looked at the score, and Dang! that's exactly what Beethoven wrote. But it's hard to play this way - how do you finger the LH, 5/5 or 5/4 or what?

    In college I wrote a paper about how to play this piece, and my paper - I now realize - was all wrong. George Barth observed this at the time.

    Anyway, this reinforces my view that Sokolov is the GOAT.


    This articlesuggests that music is even more a social activity than you might think.


    Monica played a piece on clavichord, For Rico by Friedrich Gulda. It's completely wild, and sounds like a rock solo by the Doors at one point.


    The Ligeti link I sent around a while back is from an opera: ... which is by turns tedious, irritating, and hilarious; I left at intermission. But Peter Sellars really likes it:


    We've been discussing pieces that can be played over high-latency connections. Monica mentioned:

    John Cage, Winter Music for 1-20 pianos
    A Luciano Chessa piece for 5 pianos (all on the same part, attached, no recording)
    Morton Feldman, 5 pianos(!)
    Rzewski, Les Moutons de Panurge - "If you get lost, stay lost!"
    Long Night by Kyle Gann

    Ron Kuivila mentioned:

    Morton Feldman wrote a whole series of asychronous pieces:

    Piece for 4 Pianos (1957)
    Durations 1, for alto flute, piano, violin, and cello (1960)
    Durations 2, for cello and piano (1960)
    Durations 3, for violin, tuba, and piano (1961)
    Durations 4, for vibraphone, violin, and cello (1961)
    Durations 5, for horn, vibraphone, harp, piano or celesta, violin, and cello (1961)


    I heard on the radio "Nardis", a wild piece by Miles Davis:


    György Kurtáis billed as the greatest living Hungarian composer. I don't know about that, but he transcribed Bach organ music so that piqued my interest.

    Here he's playing with his wife on a weird piano with a hyper-soft pedal:

    Here's a kind of weird piece (which I'd enjoy playing with any of you):

    Here's the original for organ: ... which initially struck me as boring, but actually is not.


    Pictures at an Exhibition on guitar:

    I'm inspired by the fearlessness and ferocity of his performance, as well as the dedication and skill evident in the transcription, which he did at the age of 19.


    Aaron Andrew Hunt wrote 24 preludes and fugues: Monica knows him and has played many of these.


    A wonderful and often hilarious interview with Poulenc in which he talks about Ricardo Vines among others.


    A friend told me that a pianist named David Korevaar had discovered a previously unknown set of piano pieces (25 Preludes) by Liugi Perrachio, and recorded them.

    I looked for these on YouTube and didn't find them (I now have the CD). But I did find some Bach organ transcriptions by Perrachio. Allein Gott... (old recording, amazing) and An Wasserflussen Babylon (great performance by Chiara Bertoglio).

    These scores weren't on IMSLP. So I found Bertoglio's email address and wrote her. To my delight she replied and sent me a PDF of the score! I learned Babylon and later performed it at the music group.

    Her performance of Babylon fascinates me. Nothing is simultaneous. Everything is "rolled", but not necessarily bottom to top. The times of notes are perturbed in a way that helps separate the voices. Is there a name for this technique? How about "polyphonic time perturbation"?

    Anyway, this got me thinking about increasing the separation of contrapuntal voices, and I had some ideas about spatialization.


    Rich Kraft turned me on to Reynaldo Hahn, yet another obscure composer of the Ravel/Debussy era. The following are interesting:

    Le ruban dénoué --- The Untied Ribbon, 12 Waltzes for 2 Pianos and a Song

    One of a set of 53 Poems in his collection Le rossignol éperdu (The Bewildered Nightingale) ...:


    Mysteries of the Macabre, by Ligeti:

    This is the wildly entertaining!! I'm not sure what the score says about staging. Here's another performance, in which the singer doesn't conduct, but does wield a vacuum cleaner:

    And another one, with some kind of schoolgirl outfit:


    I went to Chelsea Wong's Groupmuse at Lukas' house in SF.

    The first half was Chelsea, playing
    - the Schubert Impromptu op 90 #1 (the martial-sounding one).
    - Ravel, Tombeau (first 4 mvts)
    - 2 of the Crumb Macrocosmos

    These were all very good, though Chelsea struggled a bit with the piano, a Bechstein with a lot of character and resonance, but non-uniform. Adjacent notes had different characters. It was a cast of 88. The soft pedal made it more uniform; Chelsea used that in the Ravel quite a bit.

    The 2nd half was Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time", for which she had recruited Evan Kahn on cello and two other excellent players.

    I heard this piece for the first time last year at Old First Church, with biblical texts projected on a screen behind the players, and that left me cold. But this performance, and the environment, were much different, and I found it very enjoyable and moving, especially the piano/cello duet and the final piano/violin duet. It's long (50 min) - as Chelsea said, it stretches time so as to suggest the cessation of time - but I was so engrossed that it didn't seem long at all.


    I've been obsessing about this obscure piece (in particular the Prelude) which Bach wrote for lute, or harpsichord, or a lute/harpsichord hybrid:

    Everyone plays it differently; a sampling:

    Guitar: (some botches, but I like it) (Bream, lute; a bit too fast?)

    Piano: (tarted-up arrangement by Egon Petri) (too fast)

    Lautenwerck: (ornaments galore!) Flute and keyboard: (mechanical)

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