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Ludwig van Beethoven

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


My Classical Notes

February 14

Feb. 15-18: NY Philharmonic Performs Mahler

My Classical NotesVenue: David Geffen Hall Event: NY Philharmonic plays Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto and Mahler’s First Symphony Dates: Wednesday, 15 February 2017 – 7:30 PM Thursday, 16 February 2017 – 7:30 PM Friday, 17 February 2017 – 2:00 PM Saturday, 18 February 2017 – 8:00 PM Presenter: New York Philharmonic Conductor: Manfred Honeck Artist: Inon Barnatan (Piano) Program: Beethoven: Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 Mahler: Symphony no 1 in D major “Titan” Here is Leonard Bernstein, leading a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony number 1:

The Well-Tempered Ear

Today

Classical music: Pianist Adam Neiman defines what makes for great Chopin playing. He performs an all-Chopin recital this Sunday afternoon at Farley’s House of Pianos.

By Jacob Stockinger What makes for great Chopin playing? It is an especially germane question since the critically acclaimed pianist Adam Neiman (below) will perform an all-Chopin recital this coming Sunday at 4 p.m. at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side near West Towne Mall . Tickets are $45. For more information, go to: http://salonpianoseries.org/concerts.html Neiman –pronounced KNEE-man — has appeared here as a soloist with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and recorded piano concertos by Mozart with the WCO. He is a critically acclaimed prize-winning pianist with a major concertizing and recording career who also teaches at Roosevelt University in Chicago and who is also a member of the Trio Solisti, a piano trio that has been hailed as the successor to the famous Beaux Arts Trio . Here is a link to Neiman’s website with information about him and his recordings, including upcoming releases of Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff: http://www.adamneiman.com Adam Neiman also recently did an email Q&A interview with The Ear: There are some exceptional players of Beethoven and other German composers who sound completely out of their element in Chopin. What qualities do you think make for great Chopin playing and what makes Chopin difficult to interpret? Chopin’s music incorporates a narrative language and an emphasis on very “first person” points-of-view; in other words, it is highly personalized, expressing emotion from the perspective of the individual, including nationalistic sentiments. Often, Germanic music aims for “objective” viewpoints, with extremely stringent instructions by the composer. For players who struggle with the open-ended idiomatic flavor in Chopin’s music, the lack of objective instruction by the composer can make it difficult for them to know what to do. (You can hear Adam Neiman discussing much more about Chopin’s personality and artistic achievement in the YouTube video at the bottom) To play Chopin (below) at a very high level requires imagination and freedom, as well as a poetic and introspective musical tendency. The fluidity of rubato, the contrapuntal interaction between the hands and the frequent use of widely spread textures requires a nimble master of the instrument, one with the ability to emphasize the piano’s specific virtuosic abilities. In addition, Chopin’s music is centered around a bel canto operatic style of melody, whereas Germanic melody tends to be more motivic in nature, and therefore developmental. A composer like Beethoven will emphasize motivic metamorphosis as a means of augmenting a form to create large structures, whereas Chopin will glide from one melodic area to another, using harmonic exploration as the central means of formal expansion. This compositional difference outlines different strengths in the pianists, as the skill set to play reams of melody lines in succession can often be very different from those skills required to highlight motivic development in a work. Can you place the 24 Preludes that you will be playing within the context of Chopin’s entire body of works. What would you like the public to know about the preludes and how you see them individually and as a group? The 24 Preludes were composed while Chopin was on holiday in Mallorca, Spain , which proved to be Chopin’s first palpable bout with tuberculosis, the disease that eventually killed him. (Below is an 1849 photo of Chopin on his deathbed.) Many of these works were written in a fever-state, in haste, and during a stressful time period in which Chopin was not only facing his own mortality, but also dealing with the myriad challenges of integrating with the children of his lover, the French writer Aurora Dudevant who is better known as George Sand These Preludes are like snapshots into the mind of the composer at a moment in time, often without regard for cohesion or development. They exist in a timeless place, where the music expresses the extremely personal sentiments roiling through Chopin’s consciousness. In many ways, these works capture his spirit in the most distilled possible way, giving the player and listener an opportunity to view the mind and heart of Chopin without filter or refinement, hallmarks of his larger works. Despite the widely varied emotional content of these Preludes, as a set they hold together as a marvelous and surprisingly cogent musical journey. They exemplify the 19th-century “Romantic” ideals of fantasy, freedom, individuality and raw emotion. You will also perform all four Ballades . How they do they rank within Chopin’s output? What would you like listeners to know about each of the four ballades, about what they share in common and what distinguishes each one? Do you have favorites and why? If the Preludes represent the pinnacle of Chopin’s ability to express poetic ideals within miniature forms, the Ballades represent the apex of his more grandiose musical philosophy. The Ballade, as a form, emanates from epic poetry, often portraying a heroic protagonist overcoming seemingly inescapable challenges. Ballades can also be tied to nationalistic notions, and for Chopin, all four Ballades are truly Polish in their expression. As Chopin’s native Poland was invaded and he was cut off permanently from re-entry, Chopin became an orphan of the world, whose adopted home of France revered and celebrated him without equal. His musical mission — exemplified by the Ballades, Mazurkas and Polonaises in particular — was to heighten awareness of Poland’s cultural contributions to a European audience totally unaware of the goings-on in the east. As a result of the immense conflicts suffered by Chopin’s homeland, and in keeping with the deep pride and identification Chopin felt as a Pole, these Ballades express the emotional rollercoaster of a lone Polish hero — perhaps Chopin himself, autobiographically — battling the world. All four of these works make an enormous impression on the listener. From the despair and anger of the first Ballade, the bi-polar conflicts of the second (below is the opening of the second Ballade in Chopin’s manuscript), the pastoral hopefulness of the third, and the desolate introspection of the fourth, these Ballades speak to the soul and require the most intensely personal voice of the performer. They require the possession of immense physical power and emotional maturity, which renders these works as being among Chopin’s most challenging. I love all four of them equally. They are true masterworks of the highest order. In there anything else you would like to say? I am deeply honored and extremely delighted to return to Madison to perform this recital. I look forward to seeing many familiar faces, as well as new friends. Thank you! Tagged: Adam Neiman , Arts , Bach , Ballade , Beethoven , Chamber music , Chopin , Classical music , Compact Disc , composer , Composition , death , emotion , epic , fantasy , France , freedom , French , George Sand , Germanic , Germany , harmony , hero , homeland , imagination , individuality , interview , Jacob Stockinger , journey , Liszt , lover , Madison , Mallorca , manuscript , mazurka , melody , mortality , motif , Music , nocturne , performer , personal , Pianist , Piano , Piano Trio , poem , Poetry , Poland , Polish , polonaise , Prelude , Q&A , Rachmaninoff , recital , Romantic , rubato , Sonata , Spain , structure , Trio Solisti , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Waltz , Website , Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra , Writer , YouTube






The Boston Musical Intelligencer

February 18

It’s Called Ballet, Right?

When combining the closely related disciplines of music and dance to create a unique new experience for audiences, it seems their mutual affinities would have lent themselves to a natural and organic unity. At Old South Church, Friday night’s offering by Symphony Nova and the Tony Williams Ballet showed that when things fall into place this is true, while it also revealed dangers inherent in attempting what might have seemed like an inevitable collaboration. After all, it’s called “ballet”, right? Music has been paired with dance for centuries, probably forever, but choreographing relatively short works of distilled chamber music places special demands. With every element reduced to its essence, everything must mesh like clockwork. A compelling vision this type of collaboration did sometimes occur last night.. Full disclosure: the author did work at Symphony Nova’s former incarnation, the Neponset Valley Philharmonic, although the organization has completely remade itself since then; it now follows the more modern model of auditioning and training 10 instrumental fellows who not only play chamber and orchestral music throughout the season but also gain wide experience in the now-necessary fields of entrepreneurship, community engagement, and arts administration. Symphony Nova’s show with the Tony Williams Ballet (best known for the Urban Nutcracker) collaborated in three works with live dancing, as well as offering three purely instrumental works. The perils of choreographing to music which was not originally intended for dance was evident in the first work, Mozart’s Oboe Quartet, K.370. The instrumental forces were in top form, Nova Fellow Anna Bradford’s confident and sensitive oboe playing interweaved with the string trio resulting in a quartet of equals rather than, as is sometimes heard, a woodwind leader of a string band. Bradford even provided a verbal program note (something a Fellow did for each piece) wherein she not only explained the piece but gave anecdotal insight, in this case how the otherwise inexplicable cadenza near the end was actually an inside joke between composer and the work’s dedicatee, Friedrich Ramm. The audience appreciated these little tidbits and also that the players addressed them directly. The dancers, a trio of ladies and one male dancer, clad in wispy outfits reminiscent of ancient Greece, effectively evoked a story through angles and use of each others’ space, although dramatic leaps or confounding contortions were nowhere to be found. Throughout the three movements, Colleen Edwards failed to capitalize on all the structural opportunities a classical work allows. Occasionally the gestures of the dancers would coincide with a major structural element in the score, but the many nuanced inflection points, repetitions, or recapitulations found no visual counterparts in the dance. The dynamic between dancers and musicians improved in the next two balletic pieces – a string quartet performed Gershwin’s rarely heard Lullaby against a trio dancing at times a whimsical exploration, at times a gentle love triangle. This pairing worked better, with the stargazing lovers supported by the string harmonic-laden textures of Gershwin’s undulating score, but it was heartbreaking at the end when the two got out of synch, the choreography, this time by Adam Miller, ending multiple counts after the music. The first two dance pairings hinted at a danger of using non-ballet music as the score to balletic dance. Like writing lyrics to a piece of instrumental music, the added element grabs the attention and the music can be relegated into sounding like mere accompaniment. This dynamic is different in a large hall with a corps of dancers and a full orchestra, but in a smaller space with chamber musicians mere feet from the listener, one didn’t know what to watch. That is, until the last pairing, which nailed the gestalt perfectly. A trio of ladies in long skirts, seemingly sisters in an Appalachian town forgotten by time, playfully expressed both rivalry and affection in Gianni di Marco’s choreography set to two works by Mark O’Connor, Fisher’s Hornpipe and Caprice for Three. In this set, the action on stage fit the music both in scope and tone, and as a result the observer was able to take in both sound and image, melody and motion, as one unified experience. While the string quartet played O’Connor’s bluegrass-inspired Hornpipe quite classically, they were completely at home in the virtuosic Caprice, which saw triplets fly like confetti and each player have a chance to shine. Williams Ballet cvavorts in another chancel on an earlier occaision. These collaborative works alternated with instrumental ones, leaving one wondering what kind of choreography could have been designed for Lalo Schifrin’s woodwind quintet La Nouvelle Orleans. Sounding a little like the Big Easy and more The Pink Panther dancing The Rite of Spring, this quirky and masterfully scored short showcased everyone in the ensemble, in solos as well as duets and trios, making it a kind of miniature concerto for woodwind quintet. The modern, jazzy harmonies and the shifting meters would have been amazing, although admittedly amazingly difficult, to be paired with dance. The concert concluded with Beethoven’s little-known Serenade in D Major, Op. 25 for flute, violin, and viola. Cast in six short movements, the quirky piece may have been written in the late 1700’s but exudes that emerging Beethoven sound that so many of his early works do. A peaceful opening song is punctuated by heroic chords in the strings; an intermezzo is full of Sturm und Drang in the inimitable Beethoven way; and a central theme and variations is like a miniature work within a miniature. The opening and closing movements see the instruments both working in tandem with each other, finishing each other’s sentences, and taking turns in the limelight. One came away from the evening having heard much great music making, and seen some inventive and effective footwork; when the two enmeshed coherently each raised the other to a higher plane, giving us a superb vision of what was possible, although this observer went away wishing this unity was realized more consistently. Patrick Valentino, a graduate of New England Conservatory, is a Boston based conductor, composer, performer and author. More information can be found at his website . The post It’s Called Ballet, Right? appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .

Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770 – 1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. The crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in present-day Germany, Beethoven moved to Vienna in his early 20s, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. Beethoven's hearing began to deteriorate in the late 1790s, yet he continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf.



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