Sort of a music blog

random trip report

16 Feb 2024

Martial Solal is the French Oscar.

10 Feb 2024

Christopher Berg: Tango-Meditation; Restoration (piano version); Songs on poems by Frank O'hara

3 Jan 2024

Voice of the Whale by George Crumb.

26 Dec 2023

Bohemian Rhapsody in various scales.

14 Dec 2023

Maryse, Chelsea and I went to this event at C4NM: https://centerfornewmusic.com/event/window-gallery-reception-victoria-shens-zero-player-piano/

It turned out not to be a concert, but rather a talk by Victoria Shen: https://evicshen.com/ ... with video examples from her entire career. She specializes in DIY analog electronics and Maker-type gizmos, e.g.

  • fake fingernails with a record stylus at the tip, connected to an amplifier, so that you can 'play' an LP at up to 5 points simultaneously
  • various projects with low-tech voice coil speakers (spirals of conductors attached to a substrate, in front of a magnet). Some of these were on fabric. In her debut album (a vinyl LP) the record jacket itself had a copper spiral printed on it, so you could use it to play the enclosed record.
  • cutting LPs in half and gluing together halves of different LPs,so that you hear alternating seconds.

... and a lot of other things.

She also likes to 'transgress the transgressors', thumbing her nose at the electronic music establishment itself. This usually involves an intense-looking manfiddling with devices on a 'sound table' on a stage, pretty much analogous to Liszt sitting at a grand piano. She had a piece where she's sitting at such a sound table. She pushes the table off the stage, into the audience, which passes it around over their heads. Electronic devices (attached by cords to the table) fall all over the place, and there's sonic bedlam. Then she jumps off the stage herself, onto the sound table. Total cacophony. The crowd goes wild.

I loved her talk. She had an unprententious, slightlyself-deprecating delivery which is refreshing in this milieux.

8 Dec 2023

Settings of Goethe's "Kennst du das Land":

... in order of my descending preference, though that changes from day to day.

3 Dec 2023

Nice songs by Grieg: Haugtussa, Jeg Ved, Min Tanke, Ved.

15 Nov 2023

Weinberg told me about some piano arrangements of Rachmaninoff songs by Earl Wild. Note: scorser.com has lots of stuff not on IMSLP. Also 6 piano etudes by Unsuk Chin.

7 Nov 2023

Youtube videos by Tantacrul (who it turns out is the lead designer of Musescore) on Musescore and music notation in general.

YouTube is awash with horrible versions of the Acrostic Song by David del Tredici - for flute, band, choir, etc. For voice and piano I could find only this rendition. Fortunately it's pretty good.

2 Nov 2023

Great recording of Der Leiermann with accordion accompaniment.

29 Oct 2023

An excellent rant by Rick Beato about the Rolling Stone 250 top guitarists list.

Excellent analysis of musical elitism.

20 Oct 2023

Excellent video on music as property by Adam Neely.

12 Oct 2023

Unpublished works by Mompou.

Another CD of previously unpublished works. '...recently discovered by Jordi Masó in the Biblioteca de Catalunya’s Mompou Collection and at Mompou’s home'.

Scores are available from Boileau Music.

9 Sept 2023

Composers recommended by pianorarescores.com: Paul Zilcher, Mart Saar, Fritz von Bose and Tibor Harsány, Pancho Vladigerov, Julian Fontana, Hiromi Uehara, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, Arcadi VOlodos, Gara Garayev, Sergey Aksyuk, Vasily Shirinsky, Egon Kornauth, Ernest Reyer, Henry Maylath, Joseph Jongen, William Yeates Hurlestone,

Yup, all male so far.

29 Aug 2023

The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines, featuring Joni Mitchell on vocals, Jaco on bass, and Michael Brecker on sax.

22 Aug 2023

The French Bee flight from Paris to SFO had a bunch of French/Caribbean music, including this number by Creole Big Band. That led Matt to recommend Itibere Orquestra Familia; he also suggests checking out Hermeto Pascoal. Monico mentioned Ou Panis et Circencis.

16 June 2023

I learned (from Ellen Wang) about the term Math Rock, a genre characterized by rhythmic complexity. Examples include the Japanese band Mouse on the Keys. and the Taiwanese Elephant Gym.

27 May 2023

At the urging of my friend Lauren, I gave a recital at her house last weekend, attended by about 20 people. It started with two collaborations:

  • the Poulenc flute sonata (mvts 1 and 2) with Lauren's friend Nicole
  • that amazing Mompou song, sung by Gareth Loy.

After that I played 8 solo pieces:

  • Glass/Opening
  • Grieg/Jeg ved
  • Satie/Gnossienne 7
  • Mompou:/Bells and fountain
  • Mompou/3 variations
  • Bach/Ich ruf zu dir
  • Berio/wasserklavier
  • Ravel/Fairy garden

... all of which are fairly easy but emotionally complex and intense.

I played these without interruption. At the end there was riotous applause (which I don't care about) and lots of tears (which I DO care about). For me, it was like an hour on a therapy couch: The music expressed a lot of feelings from the last few years that can't be easily put into words, or for which there's no one who would understand the words.

And - at least for some of the audience - the emotional connection was made. It was very gratifying for me; in fact it was probably the high point of my performing career.

5 May 2023

An outstanding video by Adam Neely about white supremacy in (what we call) "Music Theory".

17 April 2023

"Saudade" is a Portuguese word that means a yearning for something that's been lost, or perhaps that never existed.

On Sunday I attended a voice recital at the SF Conservatory (I go to a lot of free concerts there). It was the Masters recital by a soprano of Brazilian descent. The theme was Saudade, and indeed (it turns out) that's a feeling that underlies quite a lot of songs. It was a long program, of songs that express Saudade in different ways. "Dieta Silvane", by Resphighi, tells the story of a man who discovers a magic forest, full of love and beauty and enchanted creatures. But as time goes by the magic fades, and in the end it's gone, and the man curses God (though of course it's the man that has changed, not the forest). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I5pD0d0vjU

"Ain't it a Pretty Night", from the opera "Susannah" by Carlisle Floyd, is sung by a young woman who dreams of leaving the rural valley where she was raised, but fears Saudade if she does. (It doesn't end well for her, BTW). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RYPpxQXUa4

Hugo Wolf set to music several lyrics from Goethe's novel "Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre": songs that are sung by Mignon, a young girl who was kidnapped as a child, abused in various ways, and forced to work as a circus performer. She yearns to return to her dimly-remembered home, but is so damaged that she yearns even more for death. Many composers have set these lyrics; Wolf is by far the best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWcs17ooVN4

The Floyd and Wolf are songs that I've performed (as accompanist) in the past - 5/10/20 years ago. So, in addition to being very emotionally powerful to begin with, they carry an extra dose of Saudade for me, by reminding me of times in my life that are gone.

I'm a logical person; my brain is like a high-performance computer. But, when it comes to music, I'm pathetically emotional. At this recital, hearing these songs being sung, beautifully, by a singer who felt them the same way that I do, I was overcome with Saudade; it was as if something burst in me, and tears flowed down my cheeks, and (as is usually the case in this situation) my nose started running and I had to reach for the handkerchief which fortunately I had brought.

Experiences like this are why I do and listen to music. It's like a magic forest where the magic is stronger than ever.

1 April 2023

I got around to looking at Mompou's songs and quickly found 'Damunt de tu nomes les flores', which seemed like one of the most beautiful things ever written, and is full of signature Mompou harmonies and textures.

I liked this rendition. Here's a recording with Mompou on piano. Unfortunately the soprano is kinda irritating.

There were some other recordings with sopranos, none of which I liked. Too warbly and screechy. But I liked this recording by the baritone Roger Padulles.

Then I found this one by Albert Mora, who both sings and plays - and he's great. I love his voice, and his unaffected emotional intensity.

I poked around a bit. Mora has recorded a few other songs (mostly a bit new-agey) but one of them (recorded with his GF?) is absolutely charming: Isn't young love grand?

Arcadi Volodos arranged it (with considerable liberties) for solo piano. Here it is performed by Volodos and by Christopher Goodpasture. I find this a bit overwrought and overblown, like Busoni's arrangement of the Bach Chaconne.

The lyrics are in Catalan, by the poet Josep Janes. One translation is below; there may be better ones. It's an elegy.

Above You, Only The Blossoms

Above you, only the blossoms
Were like a white offering
Thanks to the light that they lent to your shape;
They would never hang from the branch again...

A whole life, filled with perfume,
Was given to you thanks to their kiss.
You reverberated with that light
Treasured by my attentive gaze!

I wish I had been able to become a blossom's sigh
Give myself like a lily
To you, so that my life
Could slowly wither;
So that it could slowly wither on your chest!
And then, I wouldn't see the night ever again
For, by your side, it would be erased...

23 Mar 2023

I went (with Lauren) to Davies to hear Alexander Malofeev, a 21-year-old Russian pianist. The program:

Moonlight Sonata: In the first movement he did a bizarre timing thing where he played the bass note 10-100 ms after the treble note. The 2nd mvt was soggy. It needs to be crisp. The 3rd mvt was full of cute little ritardandi. To me, this movement doesn't have to be played super fast, but it has to have a relentless drive (except for the brief recitative).

This felt a bit like German music in a Russian style. Bad combo.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg. sonata #4: I didn't know the piece or the composer. It's a really great piece, very Russian, and Malofeev was suddenly in his element. His playing was clear and precise. The pieces is very contrapuntal, even in the beautiful slow 3rd mvt, and he brought out all the voices.

Malofeev likes to play soft. There were long stretches in the ppp to mp range, and he has total control in this range.

Here's Gilels playing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF_2ByJHFWQ Malofeev played it differently, with lower and wider dynamics. His rendition was more exciting. The ending, BTW, is fabulous, almost like that of the Liszt sonata.

Rachmaninoff: sonata #2: After the Weinberg, this piece (which I didn't know well) sounded kind of watery and rambling. But I think he played it well.

BTW: in the 3rd mvt, does anyone else hear a lot of Ravel's La Valse? I'm not sure which one came first though.

Encores:

#1: Pas de Deux from Nutcracker, virtuosic arrangement. Good but schmatlzy. Brian would have loved it!

#2: Precipitato from Prok 7th sonata. This was the high point for me. He played it in a unique way where about 80% of the notes were soft - mp or less - and the other 20% stuck WAY out. The running octaves in particular were very subdued. He maintained this even in the chaotic ending. It was fabulous. The crowd went wild.

#3: I didn't recognize. Chopin-like, but presumably Russian.

As is often the case when hearing really good pianists, the first thing I notice is their dynamic palette: it's really wide, and they use all of it, focusing on the lower end.

Malofeev's technique was bimodal. Mostly it was conventional, but every now and then he'd switch to high wrists and straight/stiff fingers.

Davies is not a great place to hear piano music. In the loge, the sound is muddy and a bit weak.

22 Mar 2023

Songs by Mompou: Variations. A whole set of them.

13 Mar 2023

In case I forget, the sort-of-weird harpsichord piece by Carlo Gesualdo is is here and a recording is here.

Maryse points out another unusual piece: Les Elemens by Rebel.

12 Mar 2023

The Audium is a performance space for recorded audio in SF. It's a circular room with 176 speakers, mostly overhead, with some woofers in the floor. It's pretty much anechoic, and can do really good spatialization. The room is completely darkened during performances.

It was created by Stan Shaff in the 1960s. Gareth wrote an article about it: http://www.audium.org/omhpp.cgi?src=article.cmj.hpp

I went there ~20 years and talked at length with Stan Shaff. At that point he'd been doing the same piece for a while: musique concrete, mostly voices and everyday sounds evocative of childhood. I thought it was absolutely great, and powerful. The spatialization made me feel like the sound sphere was my brain, and the sounds were like memories and thoughts bouncing around inside it.

Last night I went with Maryse. It's moved and is being run by Stan's son Dave, and now features (occasionally) rotating pieces by various composers instead of always the same piece. In this case there were 3 pieces, by Sharmi Basu, Ronald Peabody, and Alex Abalos.

The pieces had some nice moments - especially the 3rd, which had stretches of immersive Gamelan-like bell sounds - but overall I was underwhelmed. Maybe it's a generational thing; the composers were 30-ish. The pieces were loud (I put in earplugs) and bass-heavy (which kind of defeats the purpose of spatialization). They used spatialization but not in a central way. They were mostly synthesized audio, with a bit of recorded sound, mostly speech. The aesthetic was Burning Man, chill room, a little Hearts of Space.

Anyway - I'm glad the Audium (or Odium, as Maryse pronounces it) survives,and is a living thing rather than a museum.The current pieces don't fulfil its potential, but maybe future ones will.

13 Nov 2022

Rich mentioned Alexandre Tansman, a 20th-century Polish composer who moved to France and eventually the U.S. He wrote tonal music incorporating lots of global influences. Here's a collection of short piano pieces by Tansman.

7 Oct 2022

12 Etudes by Hamelin.

3 July 2022

Yunchan Lim of Korea won the 2022 Cliburn competition. Maryse thinks he's fantastic. Here he plays Rach 3. And Liszt's transcendental etudes (all of them).

14 June 2022

Obscure composer du jour: Melanie Bonis.

29 May 2022

A list of (someone's idea of) the 100 hardest piano pieces, with recordings of parts of each one. Good selection and commentary.

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. It's also 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)

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