Sort of a music blog
random trip report

23 May 2022

Berg sent me links to two videos about Rosina Lhevinne and John Browning.

14 April 2022

Arrangements of 11 folk songs by Luciano Berio, sung here by Cathy Berberian.

15 March 2022

David Love pointed out Five lectures on the acoustics of the piano.

4 March 2022

The memorial concert for Nina Lelchuk, at which Berg performed.

25 Feb 2022

Berg points out a piano arrangement of the Scherzo from Prok symphony 5.

20 Feb 2022

A video by David Bruce about the Ondes Martenot.

13 Feb 2022

Seth asked "why are there no Mozarts today" and there has been discussion of this. Dan C. pointed out that Alma Deutscher has been compared (by Stephen Fry) to Mozart (umm, no.). He posited that the "sweeping emotional gesture" aesthetic has been replaced by more abstract and meditative aims, e.g. John Luther Adams. (Although John Williams kind of belies this).

There was some discussion of why current composers feel obligated to create new styles, rather than composing in existing styles (as Rich does to some extent). Lily pointed out videos by Nahre Sol about composing in the styles of Schumann and Rachmaninoff.

8 Feb 2022

Rich pointed out Tonebase, a subscription-based source of instructional videos for advanced pianists. Some of their videos are on YouTube: e.g. Ohlsson and Vardi.

30 Dec 2021

Just intonation enters the mainstream.

A whole bunch of radio programs about music by Peter Schickele.

8 Dec 2021

Dave Weinberg pointed out a movie about Leon Fleisher.

3 Dec 2021

Self-descriptive songs: Title of the Song, The Music Theory Song Intervals Roasting, and The Song that Goes Like This from Spamalot.

30 Nov 2021

Lily sent around a link to Speaking Piano by Peter Ablinger of Austria.

8 Nov 2021

I heard Eliot Fisk (guitar) in SF last night. He's good. But David Russell is amazing.

5 Nov 2021

More jazzed-up classical music by the Jacques Loussier trio: Bach (check out starting here and Satie. See YouTube for more.

10/29/2021

I love this video in which Rick Beato talks about his first exposure to Joe Pass (the great jazz guitarist).

10/28/2021

I put my piano arrangement of Bach's Fantasia in c BWV 562 on IMSLP. Monica points out that Aaron Andrew Hunt put his 24 Preludes and Fugues on IMSLP.

10/27/2021

Dan C. pointed out this article on the use of AI to write a symphony based on Beethoven's notes for his (unwritten) 10th. 1) OK, it sounds Beethoven-ish in a crude way; 2) I suspect humans had a larger role than AI in the creation of this; 3) this makes me feel queasy; AI is a slippery slope.

10/20/2021

Dave W. pointed out some very impressive double-note technique from Jeffrey Biegel.

10/13/2021

Maryse and I saw "Fidelio" at the SF Opera. Actually just the first act; it didn't seem that great.

10/12/2021

We heard the UCBSO a couple of nights ago, playing among other things the Ravel piano concerto. Maryse reports that a part of the 1st mvt is inspired by the musical saw.

The theme from Schumann's Ghost Variations is partly from his earlier violin concerto. Schumann didn't realize this; he thought that the theme had been dictated to him by the ghost of Franz Schubert.

10/8/2021

Lily pointed out: Avery Gagliano plays in the current Chopin competition. She's really good!

9/28/2021

Roomful of Teeth performs Carline Shaw's Partita for 8 voices (from Chelsea).

9/20/2021

Chelsea at Flower Piano.

9/20/2021

Daniel Abreu, who plays at BAMC occasionally, has a nice YouTube page with some of his recordings.

9/16/2021

Jerry Kuderna's performance of Pitter Patter by Monica. Her notes: "I wrote Pitter Patter for my friend Jerry Kuderna, who premiered it at an event called the Illustrated Pianist at Old First Church in San Francisco on September 11, 2021. The format of the event, produced by Nicole Brancato with visual designer Cory Todd, is pieces inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story collection The Illustrated Man. The short story I chose to write on is The Long Rain, which takes place on the planet Venus. I wrote the piece to accompany an invented segment from a BBC documentary featuring Sir David Attenborough. In the segment, Attenborough narrates “Here, we see a group of humans exploring the surface of the planet Venus. Beset by continual rain and hostile wildlife, this intrepid group must seek the shelter of a Sun Dome, or perish. They wear helmets to protect themselves against harshly acidic rainfall. Without the shelter of the Sun Dome, the incessant pitter patter of the rain against their helmets leads to eventual insanity. The incessant pitter patter of the rain. The incessant pitter patter of the rain. The incessant pitter patter of the rain.” This piece draws inspiration from several sources: the first is an audio recording of my friend Maryse Carlin’s kitchen sink, the second is the children’s tune Itsy Bitsy Spider (which in the fast movement also appears as slight reworking of a Turkish folk dance arranged by Cemal Reşit Rey), and rather cryptic quotation from the first movement of Schumann’s Gesänge der Frühe."

9/13/2021

Dave Weinberg pointed out a recording by Kapustin of one of his concert etudes op 40. Hamelin also recorded them.

... as well as this recording of a de Scholozer etude by Eileen Joyce, from the 30s, in a sort of machine-gun stacatto style. Hamelin played the same piece in a much lusher way.

He also recommends the Dohnanyi piano etudes.

Rich pointed out this paraphrase of a Brazilian song by Kapustin. Maryse and I are kind of exhausted by listening to Kapustin.

9/10/2021

An article on numerology in Bach and related stuff.

Another article about Bach, from Psyche.

8/25/2021

Last Saturday's BAMC concert, featuring Monica's killer performance of Ice Calf.

8/21/2021

Chelsea reminded me of Jacob Collier, a vocal/composer phenom who has figured out optimal microtonal modulations. He's playing in SF next year at the Warfield; when Chelsea learned of this she jumped on her phone and bought tix.

8/19/2021

Bruno Monsaingeon has made a number of documentaries about musicians:

8/18/2021

A couple of recent YouTube discoveries:

  • Anthony Fantano is a smart/funny/insightful guy who has a series of ~10-min reviews of recent albums, such as this review of Sinner Get Ready by Lingua Ignota; both are worth a listen.
  • Rick Beato has a channel about audio engineering, and a whole bunch of "What makes this song great?" videos, including one about Roundabout.

8/12/2021

Every now and then I recall a lecture/demo I heard back in the late 80s (?) at the SF conservatory (at their old location in the Sunset) that paralleled the Boulez piano sonata #1 (?) and the fugue from the Hammerklavier. And unforgettable event, with only a handful of people in attendance. Anyway, lest I forget, the pianist was Pierre-Laurent Aimard; Maryse knows him.

8/3/2021

A Hubble image as musical score. I proposed instead having 1 sine wave per galaxy and combining them. See also Etudes Australes by John Cage. Related: Vi Hart sings the digits of pi.

7/20/2021

The recording of the July 2021 BAMC is here. Essa-Matti played an interesting piece by Prokofiev.

7/13/2021

The recording of the June 2021 BAMC (featuring the Tenaya Guitar Duo) is here.

6/21/2021

The Cantata Collective is an SF group that performs Bach cantatas.

Thom Blum interviewed on the Watt from Pedro show.

5/18/2021

An article the NY Times discussed Dan Tepfer, a jazz pianist who improvises in the style of Bach. or example, he performed Goldberg with each variation followed by a corresponding improv.

Maryse points out an earlier jazz/improv version of Goldberg by Jacques Loussier, with bass/drums.

5/17/2021

Recording of the recent BAMC, featuring a remarkable semi-improv by Rich that includes various water-themed pieces and Roundabout by Yes.

4/30/2021

Two remarkable singers: Disturbed: Sounds of Silence (from Lily) and Dimash Qudaiberg (from Monica).

Recording of the last BAMC, including Hallelujah Junction and Rich's fabulous summary improv.

4/28/2021

Ellie's recent Greek Chamber Music concert is here.

4/25/2021

Chelsea told me about a piano-moving robot that looks pretty cool.

4/14/2021

Silvia Goes performs Tico Tico at the Berkeley Choro festival. Robert points out that Marc-Andre Hamelin also did an arrangement.

4/10/2021

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.

4/10/2021

Three pieces for flute and piano by Jehan Alain.

4/3/2021

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

3/31/2021

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

3/21/2021

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.

2/15/2021

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.

2/11/2021

An NPR obit for Chick Corea.

2/10/2021

A great video about Steely Dan.

1/18/2021

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.

12/28/2020

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.

12/25/2020

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

12/10/2020

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

11/29/2020

Another global group improv, this one on Georgia.

11/15/2020

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

11/5/2020

Check out After Bach by Brad Mehldau.

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

11/5/2020

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.

11/3/2020

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:

10/3/2020

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.

9/17/2020

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

8/23/2020

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.

8/16/2020

Some guy plays the Goldberg variations on harp. Pass.

8/1/2020

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

7/16/2020

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 :-) "

7/3/2020

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

7/2/2020

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.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIQZE6kB5o8

    7/1/2020

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

    6/29/2020

    Pavane in F# minor by Louis Couperin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX2TI8nzBvI This is a great performance largely because of the ornamentation.

    6/20/2020

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

    6/4/2020

    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.

    5/28/2020

    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.

    5/27/2020

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

    5/26/2020

    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.

    5/21/2020

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

    5/17/2020

    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.

    5/17/2020

    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.

    5/8/2020

    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)

    5/8/2020

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

    5/2/2020

    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.

    4/27/2020

    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.

    4/27/2020

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

    4/1/2020

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

    3/20/2020

    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.

    3/12/2020

    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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ncPqQpwWRc

    One of a set of 53 Poems in his collection

    3/12/2020

    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:

    1/6/2020

    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.

    12/29/2019

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

    Everyone plays it differently; a sampling:

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

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

    Lautenwerck:
    this (ornaments galore!)

    Flute and keyboard:
    this
    this (mechanical)

  • Copyright 2022 © David P. Anderson