Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'Jupiter' ascending

I had too much fun the other night watching this new video on the finale of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony.

This is a symphony I have listened to my entire life but I have never looked at the score. As a rule I do not like looking at scores. I am afraid I am going to picture the score whenever I hear the music and for some reason I do not like that.

However. Comes a time, you know? I reasoned with myself that I had studied scores of Beethoven quartets and they did not ruin the quartets for me.

So, the "Jupiter." I know every note of it. I can hear it in my head, I mean, I can just mentally press "Play" and there it is. But watching this video I saw there were things that were going on that I had not noticed. It is a thrill just to see the logic of the thing.

And it's fun, how this guy's robotic voice just informs you what to listen for. He does not call attention to himself. He doesn't try to be charming or steal the spotlight at all from this magnificent work of art we are contemplating.

Richard Atkinson, is his name. I keep wanting to say Rowan Atkinson. That is Mr. Bean! That is someone else entirely.

Imagine Mr. Bean narrating Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony. No. Do not go there.

Anyway, Mozart's "Jupiter" finale, annotated. Find time in your day for it.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

A haunting performance

At Kleinhans Music Hall yesterday we had the violinist Mayuko Kamio playing Mozart's "Turkish" Violin Concerto. As an encore she did this unbelievable piece, Schubert's "Erlkoenig" arranged for violin.

The concert went late and I didn't have time to Google around to find out whose arrangement it was. I wrote my whole review in 25 minutes, yikes! But now I am looking it up and it appears to be by Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst.

That was my grandmother's last name, Ernst!

But anyway. Here is Hilary Hahn playing it.

The description says it is one of the most difficult pieces for solo violin because of all the voices. I did touch on that in the review. I did kind of sense how challenging it was. How could you not?

Listening to this piece last night I found myself regretting it was not 150 years ago because then more people would know the song. I doubt that a lot of people in the hall knew the song because, even though it is one of Schubert's most famous songs -- probably the most famous -- people just don't know Schubert songs.

And even if you had heard the song before and recognized it, you would have to know the lyrics from verse to verse to follow what is going on. When Kamio got to the line where the little demon Erl King tells the child, "I love you," it was really cool and creepy.

My sister Katie who teaches German sent me this cool video. Now seems like a good time to share it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The book of Liszt

Yikes, I should just let this Web log go. I never write in it any more. I have been so busy and then often when I try to write the computer messes up on me and I end up walking away.

Maybe I should make a last stand. So often through the week I walk around with something on my mind I want to write about.

Today it is Schubert songs arranged by Liszt.

I have been working on a few of them in my spare time. I am doing "Das Wandern" and "Der Muller und der Bach" from "Die Schoene Mullerin." I also have "Wohin" lying around and that will be next.

The challenge with these pieces of course is that you have to keep them flowing smoothly at the same time that Liszt is bending and stretching your hand in all these different directions.

Listen to how Rachmaninoff pulls it off.

What a romantic he must have been, you know? The way he plays the Serenade. His hands are not always together which ordinarily would bug me but in this case you have to forgive it,.

And I like how he does "Das Wandern." A few other pianists I listened to were too clinical with it. Too staccato, too, with the introduction. I have listened to that song cycle millions of times and that intro does not have to be choppy.

Anyway we are back to the idea of David Dubal, play the piano daily and stay sane. I get my little half hour with these pieces as long as I have gotten in my other work. It is a kind of reward. It is funny because you walk over to the piano with a glass of wine and an hour later the wine is still sitting there. That does not happen too often!

You heard the man.

Play the piano daily and stay sane!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sing it, Monsieur Souzay

Yesterday after church I stopped by Amvets and I bought one (1) record. It was 17 songs by Richard Strauss sung by Gerard Souzay. Gerard Souzay has made one appearance on this Web log before. But I really knew very little about him. I just know I love Strauss songs.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I have listened to the record twice. I just liked it.

Souzay does not have the passionate approach I love to certain songs, I found myself thinking as I listened. He is too... French. I read today that Souzay specialized in French melodie... the French answer to German lieder, which to be honest, I do not get the appeal of melodie too much.

But coming from this background he brings a certain something to the Strauss songs. If he does not "get" the raw sensuality of some of them he gets the wit of others. And...

Oh my goodness me.

Here I go looking on YouTube for some example of what I mean. And I find these films of Monsieur Souzay in what looks like the 1950s, singing this stuff.

This changes everything.

This guy is something! I listened to him singing "Zeuignung" -- it means "Dedication" -- and he's insanely good. Handsome devil, too. All this passion comes through that did not on this record I have, or else maybe I did not hear it. I will have to listen to it again.

Here he is with "Serenade." If you do not know this song, it is a very sexy song. He is inviting you to slip away with him in the dark, to be quiet so nobody hears, etc....

This song, like all of Strauss' songs, has a wonderful piano accompaniment. Souzay's pianist was Dalton Baldwin, excellent. Make sure you watch Souzay through the end of the video. The end of the song thrilled me when I was a teenager. "And in the morning, when the rose blooms, it will glow from the bliss of the night." Watch his face.

Wow, what a live one! You never see anyone going for broke the way he does singing these songs. He really feels it! He is thinking of every line of that song. In all my years listening to Lieder I have honestly never seen anything like this.

One person comments on the "Zeuignung" video, "I studied with him three years." How would you study with this guy? You would walk in and not be able to sing. Imagine him looking at you. Imagine him saying, "No, you should sing it like this." That French aspect I was criticizing before, he turned that into a strength, that is for sure.

Anyway. There is a lot out there waiting to be explored. And I will explore it.

Merci, Monsieur Souzay!

Merci, Amvets!