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Piano Schubert

Paul Lewis and Schubert

The other night I traveled to Melbourne and attended an all Schubert concert by the wonderful pianist Paul Lewis. Paul is in the process of (I think) recording all of Schubert. My favorite piece in the concert was this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyJtzibykUw

At the end of the concert I got in the line to have CD’s signed. I said something to him like: ‘Hi Paul .. I’ve got a bunch of your Beethoven, and I just wanted to ask you; what do you feel Schubert brought to the table that his Master and guru, Beethoven, hadn’t done better already?’ I then said, ‘Something has happened to me in the past year that I never thought would happen … I’ve become a Beethoven freak’ – He said, “Really!” with a bit of intensity as though he found it very interesting! (he was quite personable and lovely)

Paul answered rapidly along the lines of how very different they were and at the end said, ‘Schubert is instinctive while Beethoven is logical.’ I thanked him and we shook hands. He had a firm handshake!

Hmmmm? I’ve been pondering the instinctive/logical bit, and don’t quite get it yet!


Beethoven Beethoven the alchemist magician genius Piano

Beethoven the alchemist magician genius

Sonata No. 4 in E flat major Op. 7 – II. Largo con gran espressione.

Played very well by Paul Lewis

I was listening to a debate on the radio some months ago on the theme: Was Beethoven the Greatest? I remember one of those who were voting ‘Yes’ – making a comment along the lines of how, as great as he was, sometimes you just had to wonder what in the hell he was doing! I think she meant that when he gets edgy and ‘out there’ it’s hard to figure out what he’s trying to accomplish musically or emotionally/spiritually … or any which way!

And how about the alchemical transitions he spins? Where he takes us from somnambulist/ hypnotic – to raging punk – like riffs in a minute.

Sometimes listening to Beethoven I find myself on the edge of my seat, almost holding my breath, to see what comes next. Where does a musical genius go after 8, 10 or 15  notes in a sequence that are like a child experimenting? Knowing, that said genius is not childlike, we wonder how his boundless musical savvy  is going to lead us out of it; and into… what?!

OK – here’s such a moment. Starting at 3:10 into this piece and going on to about 4:20. Who else but Beethoven could do this?

How did he take us from there to there? Magic stuff. Actually this entire Sonata movement is ‘somethin’ else’!


Nikolai Medtner Piano

Medtner for Ben

This is the first appearance of Nikolai Medtner (b 1880 – d1951) on this site.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Medtner

My cyber friend and spiritual comrade Ben, in California, urged me to investigate his music. Since he was admired by Rachmaninoff (and actually collaborated with him) I was motivated to find and listen to more (I had only one piece by him in my library) After listening to a number of pieces I’ll stick with his buddy Rachmaninoff, when I want that Russian melancholy, wistful and nostalgic stuff! They do sound very close in the overall mood they generate.

Forgotten Melodies op38 (1) Sonata-Reminiscenza- Allegretto tranquillo


John Field Piano This Dilettante!

This Dilettante!

As a self confessed Classical Music dilettante I continue to discover large gaps in my ‘knowledge-base’ The one I found the other day was so big you could drive a Queensland road train through it!

My brother in law, with whom I frequently discuss music, casually mentioned John Field (b1782 – d1837) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Field_%28composer%29

To discover that he studied with Clementi, collaborated with Hummel, Chopin admired his nocturnes and Liszt made a fuss about them too; was just another small humiliation for this dilettante, not having heard his music before.

Here’s part of what Liszt said, None have quite attained to these vague eolian harmonies, these half-formed sighs floating through the air, softly lamenting and dissolved in delicious melancholy. Nobody has even attempted this peculiar style, and especially none of those who heard Field play himself, or rather who heard him dream his music in moments when he entirely abandoned himself to his inspiration.

Bottom line: These piano pieces are very easy on the ears. Simpler in their construction than Liszt or Chopin, but certainly charming and appealing. The strong ostinato element in the pieces makes me wonder if modern minimalist composers of the ilk of Phillip Glass may not have found inspiration here.

*In music, an ostinato (derived from Italian: “stubborn”, compare English: obstinate) is a motif or phrase, which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice. An ostinato is always a succession of equal sounds, wherein each note always has the same weight or stress. The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody in itself.[1]

Here are his nocturnes 1 – 7 (about 28 minutes worth)


Faure Piano

Faure Nocturnes

The French composer Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) was one of the foremost French composers of his time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Faur%C3%A9

Here are a couple of his beautiful piano nocturnes.

We’re sitting in a piano bar way-station nibbling tasty hor dourves and watching the runway. The room is full of cultured wealthy philanthropists and spiritual seekers; awaiting the shuttle flight to Heaven: Level 3/room 16

Nocturne #4

 

Nocturne #3


Hummel Piano

How wonderful Hummel

Today I was listening to my iPod to a playlist that contains a lot of my favorites. I was only listening with half an ear but kept thinking it was probably Beethoven. Each time the gentle, melodic and lyrical riff appeared (the one that starts the piece) I thought … aaahh yeah it probably is him. (*NOTE: Serious Beethoven lovers please forgive this dilettante!) Still in all I have listened to a lot of Beethoven and he’s my favorite. It must say something for Hummels’ mastery as a composer.

Here’s Hummel’s Fantasie op. 18 Larghetto e Cantibile

 

 

For more on Hummel (how he was a fellow student with Beethoven and when B appeared it nearly destroyed H’s confidence!) see this posting

http://jimsclassicalmusic.com/2010/12/20/hummel-redux/


Chopin Piano

Chopin – the “dreamiest?!”

Who can do “Dreamy” better than Chopin? Maybe nobody. Let’s listen!

His Nocturne in B #17. Two versions. One by Garrick Ohlsson, until 1970 the only American to win the International Chopin Competition.  And then a more recent winner of the Competition (2005) – Rafal Blechacz; who was proclaimed so superior to all the other entries that they couldn’t award a second prize! (check out Rafal – a fine young man without much of an Ego! A great “New” breed of pianist) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafa%C5%82_Blechacz

and a wonderful interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bYVX8BEl7Y&feature=related

 

By Ohlsson

 

By Blechacz


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