As we all continue to practice our Beethoven pieces for our "Virtual Recital", listen to a re-creation of a Conrad Graf fortepiano like one of the ones that Beethoven himself would have used. Robert Levin, giving this masterclass at Juilliard last September, discusses the evolution of pianos used by Haydn and Beethoven. He tells us more in this video. What are your thoughts? How do YOU compare the sounds you are hearing?
OK, I will admit......just as in the song by Irving Berlin, I love a piano! I am alway interested in reading about (and listening to) the evolution of my beloved instrument over the centuries. In thinking about the instruments that Beethoven used, as we work on our studio "Beethoven Project", I listened and read again about the straight-strung instrument(s) built for Daniel Barenboim in 2015 by Chris Maene, an instrument builder in Belgium (with some help from Steinway). I thought you might also enjoy learning a bit about this.......by my ears, the sound quality is much more transparent and the individual color across registers is more distinguishable. Unlike the modern cross-strung grands (which Steinway patented in 1859), straight-stringing offers huge opportunities in experimenting with color. Barenboim had played a restored piano in Italy in 2011 owned by Franz Liszt and was blown away by the differences. Straight strung instruments were common in the 19th century; these were developed in the 1820-30's by Broadwood in London, Erard in France, and Hoxa in Vienna. Our modern grand with cross-stringing has the ability to produce a much bigger, but "blurrier", if you will, tone, but it is fascinating to hear the difference in the piano played/owned by Barenboim. I think you might like to hear some of his playing here in this concert of Schumann! You might also enjoy these videos in a playlist I made which feature discussion by Daniel Barenboim (he uses his own piano to demonstrate, so listen carefully!
Bach and Jeremy Denk
For so many musicians, Bach is the beginning of all source of musical inspiration. PLEASE, if you listen to nothing else today, listen to pianist, MacArthur Genius grant winner, musical illuminator, Jeremy Denk talk about and perform Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier from his "practice barn". You will find, in addition, many inspirational quotes about Bach. You can go to Jeremy Denk on Facebook and find this performance.......
And to continue to explore a little more about Bach, read this lovely piece "Sleepers Awake" from Crisis to Cantata courtesy of WCRB.....I hope you will enjoy as I have today.......courage!
For my young students AND my students young-at-heart!! Two favorite works of mine for so many years have been Peter and the Wolf by Serge Prokofiev and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten (on a theme by Henry Purcell). I am attaching a link here to my suggestions from youtube, but you may know these works and have your own favorite performance/performers! Peter and the Wolf is a "symphonic fairy tale" written in 1936. The narrator (David Bowie, in the version I have linked!) tells the story while the orchestra illustrates it. The Young Person's Gide was written in 1945, commissioned originally by an educational British documentary. It features the orchestra as a whole, then you will hear the individual sections, strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion. I'm relaxing and enjoying a little listening this evening......join me!
So I thought I would share a little of my personal listening over the past few days......a very eclectic mix, I'm sure you will agree! To begin with, I attended the virtual "World-Wide Tuning Meditation" by Pauline Oliveros led by Ione and Claire Chase. Many of you may not know of the composer, performer, and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros, although student RP has explored her music with me; way to go, RP!! From her website: "Oliveros was Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and Darius Milhaud Artist-in-Residence at Mills College. She founded "Deep Listening ®," which came from her childhood fascination with sounds and from her works in concert music with composition, improvisation and electro-acoustics. She described Deep Listening as a way of listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one's own thoughts as well as musical sounds." When in London with Kate, we attended a deep listening meditation that will live as one of the most incredible musical experiences of my life! So when I saw a notice about this global tuning meditation, I jumped at the chance. You can listen here to the event edited on Soundcloud (you may even hear me breathing/singing along with Conrad Tao in this Zoom video!) You may want to attend yourself! This will go on every Saturday in April at 5:00pm. You must get a ticket at Eventbrite, although they are free, and here is a link.
Another listening journey has been with the great Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, virtuoso banjo performers (as well as spouses); give a listen to Banjo House Lockdown concerts, and have fun! Next, while I did some cleaning (notice the dust-free pianos at your lesson!), I pulled a "Mrs. Doubtfire" while listening to Cimafunk in their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR.....look them up on Apple music, too! Next, I watched the wonderful pianist Nicholas Lugansky perform Franck, Beethoven, and Rachmaninov playing to an empty house on Medici.TV (subscription only). You may enjoy Nicholas playing here...... And, there's more, much more, but I will save for another day! Happy sharing!