Monday, August 29, 2016
Ms. Grimaud is known for putting together creative programs. And this CD is no exception. In this recording, Helene Grimaud presents an album with an unusual concept. Bach vs. Bach Transcribed brings together original keyboard works by Bach, together with works by Bach arranged (transcribed) for the piano by composers of later generations: Busoni, Liszt, and Rachmaninov. This is the first time that Hélène Grimaud has recorded Bach – a challenge for any musician. The repertoire includes the famous Well-Tempered Clavier II and the Concerto no. 1 in D minor, the latter performed with Grimaud’s regular collaborators, the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Bach “Transcribed” features the Bach/Busoni version of the Chaconne in D minor, the Violin Partita in E major arranged for piano by Rachmaninov, and Liszt’s version of the Prelude and Fugue in A minor. Here is Ms Grimaud, playing Bach’s Harpsichord concerto BWV 1052:
Maxim Vengerov, born 1974, was a child prodigy who won great competitions at an early age: the Wieniawski at ten and the Carl Flesch at fifteen. He went on to have a great career and be recognised as one of the leading violinists of our times, fortunately prodigal in this specialty. Nowadays he is also a conductor and teacher, and has his own Festival. An interesting point: during the recent decade he took a three-year sabbatical from playing; during that time he studied conducting . He came to Buenos Aires several times, the last playing a Chinese concerto with the Shanghai Symphony; although his playing was admirable, the work was subpar and hardly up to his capacities. But late in 2011 he gave a splendid recital of sustained quality, blending ideally intellectual comprehension with virtuoso realisation. Unfortunately I don´t keep archives and can´t vouchsafe if his pianist was Roustem Saitkoulov, but he is Vengerov´s habitual partner, it might have been him. Hand programme biographies should provide information about earlier visits to BA, but they are always mere translations of a standard international biography. I remember that years ago the Mozarteum made it a point of mentioning previous contacts with the artists; I wish they did that again in the future. Saitkoulov is a distinguished pianist in his own right; also,H he does a lot of chamber work. Born at Kazan, Russia, he studied with the great Elisso Virsaladze at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory (she came twice here) and then completed his training in Munich. He won important competitions: the Ferruccio Busoni (Bolzano), Géza Anda (Zürich), Marguerite Long (Paris). He has played with important orchestras and given recitals throughout the world. By the way, he accepts the French version of his name and surname; for us or for Great Britain and USA, it should be Rustem Saitkulov (we write Mussorgsky, not Moussorgsky). So there were good reasons to expect from this Mozarteum concert (repeated with the same programme) a very high level. Technically it was of course impeccable, but the interpretations began coldly, more so in the case of Vengerov. The sonatas chosen were enticing: Schubert´s Sonata in A, D.574, pompously called "Grand Duet"; and Beethoven´s marvelous Sonata Nº 7, in C minor, Op.30 Nº2. Schubert´s sonata was written young, at 20, but his personality is clear from the very beginning, a delicious Allegro moderato. Who else wrote such melodies or was so subtle in the harmonic modulations? He also wrote three other sonatas, a bit less inspired and developed, called Sonatinas by the editor. All of them were published posthumously, the same sad destiny of his symphonies 8 and 9. I fell in love with the sonata in my youth with the wonderful recording by Kreisler and Rachmaninov, for it has charm and beauty: Kreisler sings with captivating timbre, and the great Russian virtuoso adapts to the intimate style perfectly.Too much sliding from Kreisler? Agreed, but he is irresistible. And that´s contrary to what I felt from Vengerov: an academic, correct reading with no involvement. During the interval, a veteran friend said: "it´s as if he were afraid of producing any sound that isn´t round and smooth". Yes, all exact but with little energy and attack. Saitkoulov was better; however, the final result was placid in the wrong sense. As Claudia Guzmán rightly says in her comments referring to Beethoven´s Seventh Sonata: "never until then a work for piano and violin had displayed such dramatic intensity nor had required similar temporal proportions". It is a C minor masterpiece in the same rank as the "Pathetic" Piano Sonata and the Third Piano Concerto. No namby-pamby approach can deal with such a score. Things went gradually better, fired by the greater intensity and virtuoso playing of Soutkulov, but only got to the desirable grade of electricity from both in the last movement. Said my friend: "there I found Beethoven". But things changed, and the whole Second Part, as well as the four encores, went swimmingly. Both showed complete identification with that peculiar Ravel Second Sonata: he believed that piano and violin are incompatible and the music echoes that idea: the players oppose each other instead of being complemental. And you know, it works! The Blues is the best movement and it was played with ideal sinuosity. And then came a final virtuoso section starting with a violin solo piece: Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst´s Variations on "The Last Rose of Summer", Nº 6 of the Polyphonic Etudes for solo violin. The piece on the lovely Irish tune is the devil to play and rarely done; Vengerov at twelve presented it at the Tchaikovsky International Competition. Here he showed the complete range of his fantastic technique. A quiet and reflexive Paganini, the Cantabile Op.17, originally for violin and guitar, was done in a transcription for violin and piano. The final score was the Kreisler arrangement for violin and piano of Paganini´s "I palpiti" for violin and orchestra, Introduction and Variations on a theme from Rossini´s "Tancredi" (the aria "Di tanti palpiti"), a true catalogue of Paganini´s technical innovations, splendidly played. Four encores: two of those inimitable Kreisler pieces that Beecham would have called "lollipops": the famous "Viennese Caprice" and the dynamic "Chinese tambourine". Rachmaninov´s beautiful Vocalise, transcribed from the original for orchestra. And Brahms´ ever so popular Hungarian Dance Nº5, in the Joachim arrangement. All done with panache by the artists. For Buenos Aires Herald
Many years ago I met pianist Vladimir Feltsman, as he was resting outdoors prior to a concert in Aspen, Colorado. I found him to be a thoughtful, expressive person, and I loved his playing of the Bach Goldberg Variations once the concert began. Today I have for you a new recording by Mr. Feltsman which allows us to listen to music by Robert Schumann: Vladimir Feltsman plays Schumann Piano Works Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15 Arabeske in C major, Op. 18 Blumenstück, Op. 19 Kreisleriana, Op. 16 Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26 Waldszenen, Op. 82 Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 Albumblatter, Op. 124 Carnaval, Op. 9 Bunte Blätter, Op. 99 Bunte Blätter, Op. 99: Stücklein Romance in F sharp major, Op. 28 No. 2 plus: Albumblätter (I-V) Performed by Vladimir Feltsman (piano) Pianist and conductor Vladimir Feltsman is one of the most versatile and constantly interesting musicians of our time. His vast repertoire encompasses music from the Baroque to 20 th-century composers. A regular guest soloist with leading symphony orchestras in the United States and abroad, he appears in the most prestigious concert series and music festivals all over the world. Mr. Feltsman’s extensive discography has been released on the Melodiya, Sony Classical, and Nimbus labels. His discography includes eight albums of clavier works of J.S. Bach, recordings of Beethoven’s last five piano sonatas, solo piano works of Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Messiaen and Silvestrov, as well as concerti by Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. Here is Mr. Feltsman in a performance of the wonderful Arabesque Op. 18 by Schumann:
Usher Hall, Edinburgh An immense programme of Brahms, Liszt and Rachmaninov showcased Trifonov’s technical prowess, but nothing was mannered or bombasticThere were moments when Daniil Trifonov’s forehead almost hit the keyboard and times when he launched himself right off the piano stool – which might sound like showmanship from the wunderkind of old-school Russian powerhouse pianism, but nothing was mannered or bombastic in this recital. At 25, Trifonov is still the blaze of fearless, joyous virtuosity he was when he first played Edinburgh four years ago, but what’s so exciting to witness is how he increasingly channels all that technical prowess into making softer, rather than louder, sounds. It’s as though the flashy stuff comes so easily that he’s far more interested in finding ways to make the piano sing or whisper or melt into liquid.The programme was a typically immense mountain of notes: Brahms’s left-hand arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne, Liszt’s Paganini Études and Rachmaninov’s First Piano Sonata – which the composer morosely predicted “nobody will ever play because of its difficulty”. For listeners, it can be numbing to sit through these uber-dazzle piano recitals, but Trifonov’s virtuosity is different. It’s elegant and purposeful, every trick deployed to summon new colours, rather than as an end in itself. Continue reading...
We have been sent a list of the 100 most searched classical pianists on Wikipedia, the global reference site. Since the site lists every musician who ever touched a keyboard as a pianist, it’s not suprising that Mozart comes first with an average 5,631 searches a day, Beethoven second with 4,668 and Chopin third with about half as many. The big eye-opener is who comes fourth. It’s John Cale, one of the founders of Velvet Underground and about as classical as Johnny Rotten. 5 Gershwin 6 Liszt 7 Stravinsky 8 Ludovico Einaudi, the icy Italian minimalist 9 Herbie Hancock 10 Leonard Bernstein, averaging 1,077 searches a day 11 Rachmaninov 12 Shostakovich. No one else tops 1,000 searches a day. The findings, collated over viewings in the past two weeks, suggest that Wikipedia needs to tighten up its search criteria to define what is classical and what is a pianist. Among other personalities listed are Samantha Bentley, an English porn star (421 views) and Mark Rutte, Dutch prime minister (338). It may be safely assumed that those searching their names on Wikipedia are not planning to book them for a Liszt concerto. From the above data, we have compiled a mini list of professional concert pianists still alive and playing. Click here for thrills and spills.
This DVD gives us an opportunity to hear pianist Denis Matsuev at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He performs works by Tchaikovsky – Schumann – Stravinsky, and more: Liadov: A Musical Snuffbox, Op. 32 Schumann: Kreisleriana, Op. 16 Scriabin: Étude Op. 8 No. 12 in D sharp minor Sibelius: Etude, Op. 76, No. 2 Stravinsky: Three Movements from Petrushka Tchaikovsky: The Seasons, Op. 37b Méditation (No. 5 from Morceaux, Op. 72) plus: Matsuev jazz-improvisation Denis Matsuev gave this remarkable recital at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, conducted by Sebastien Glas. Here is Denis Matsuev, performing the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninov:
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1 April 1873 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors. The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff's compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.
Great composers of classical music