Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Just last week I was listening to the late pianist, Emil Gilels, and I was blown away by his amazing musicianship. Today I have come across a new recording of Gilels playing the five Beethoven piano concerti: Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (complete), with the Cleveland Orchestra. Variations (32) on an Original Theme in C minor, WoO 80 Variations (12) on a Russian Dance, WoO 71 Variations (6) on an original theme ‘Die Ruinen von Athen’, Op. 76 All performed by Emil Gilels (piano) Gramophone magazine wrote the following when Mr. Gillels died: “Emil Gilels stands out as giant among giants. In terms of virtuosity he was second to none, yet his leonine power was tempered by a delicacy and poetry that few have matched and none has surpassed.” Here is Emil Gillels, as he performs the music of Schumann, Brahms, and Chopin:
Evgeny Kissin has been one of my favorite pianists for many years. I came across this recording in which he plays the Chopin Piano Concerto number 1, and it is truly magical. This is for YOU to enjoy today!
Over the years, several performers have waited for further musical maturity before they played certain compositions. Some deferred playing certain Beethoven sonatas. Others have delayed playing particular music by Johann Sebastian Bach. Recently I learned that pianist David Fray has not played any of Chopin’s music for the past 15 years. As such. I was interested in a recent new recording by David Fray in which he performs a collection of Impromptus, Mazurkas, Nocturnes, and a Waltz by Chopin. I especially like the diversity of the pieces, because I generally do not enjoy hearing 14 waltzes in a row, or 7 Impromptus, if there are that many. This collection includes just one waltz! Here is Mr. Fray in an amazing performance of the Chopin Nocturne Opus 48, number 1:
Danuta Szaflarska, possibly Poland’s most prolific film actor, has died at 102, a few months after completing her last role. After risking her life as a courier for the Polish resistance under the German occupation, she was seldom off the stage or the film set for b75 years. Her first husband was the pre-eminent Chopin scholar and pianist Jan Ekier.
Gerhardt/Becker (Hyperion)Cellists are lining up to pay tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich in what would have been his 90th year, but Alban Gerhardt’s is an especially apt homage, showcasing the Russian master’s commitment to expanding his instrument’s repertoire and popularity, at the same time as celebrating his sense of fun. It’s not a bad vehicle for the sparky Gerhardt and pianist Markus Becker, either. Rostropovich, with his knack for making the cello seem to sing, would surely have approved of their seamless playing of Glazunov’s arrangement of Chopin’s C sharp minor Etude, Op 25 No 7, in which the German cellist’s dark timbre engenders a very Russian sense of yearning. Amid miniatures by Scriabin, Stravinsky, Popper and Ravel, there are Rostropovich’s own arrangements, including a riotous March by Prokofiev and a slidy, twangy version of Debussy’s Minstrels. The disc is bookended by two rare pieces by Rostropovich himself, a scurrying Humoresque and an intricate Moderato for cello alone. Continue reading...
The refreshing French pianist has given a characteristically frank interview to Elijah Ho for KQED in San Francisco. Here are some unpublished extracts, transcribed exclusively for Slipped Disc: On fellow-pianists: ‘Today, you can come out on stage with a nice smile and the First Piano Concerto of Chopin and be considered a master of piano. For me, that’s totally meaningless. For me, it doesn’t mean anything to be a master of the piano. You can be a master of the piano without being a musician at all…I like Bebop very much – Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and all of these other musicians. Erroll Garner is a world by himself. I put them before some of the classical players. Some of the classical players can’t do anything but learn and perform – they do so very nicely, but they’re not full musicians.’ On a rumour that his parents were unsupportive of his playing: ‘That was terrible. I know I talk a lot, and sometimes I say some things. Maybe you’re a parent yourself, but imagine how my parents felt reading something like that? It doesn’t cost a journalist anything to write something like that, but it cost my parents a lot.’ On competitions and perfectionism: ‘This system of teachers presenting their students in competitions, being jury members at these competitions themselves, looking for certain ways to play, using references of playing instead of the score itself, it’s very painful for me. I would like to play more Liszt and more Chopin, but I feel desperate. Before I play one note, there are already so many people waiting to find something wrong with my playing. They will say, ‘Ah it’s not the way it should be!’ But for me, what should be is the music. It’s not my freedom, my original idea. I try as much as possible to be honest, to find the best way to express what the music has to communicate. With Scarlatti, for example, I don’t play just one way because he’s a Baroque composer. Baroque is a huge thing and you can’t possibly associate it with all people who lived in that time. We are living in the age of Trump – does that mean we must all be little Trumps ?”” On pop music: ‘Oh, I think there are a lot of very interesting and good things in pop music. I would not shit on pop music. I think there are strong composers, singers, strong drummers, etc. For me, the problem is not shit. There’s a lot of shit out there. The problem is we are not talking enough about what is good. There is a lot of good, but the accent is put on the shit. Look at cinema. There are a lot of good movies, but people are always talking about the bad ones. Why do we do this?’ On music critics: ‘Plenty of critics are probably frustrated people who can’t do 10% of what the musicians do. It’s too easy. It’s even strange that people who do these things don’t feel ashamed of doing so. Because there’s a lot to feel ashamed about when you live like this. So, whatever…’ Read on here for the official transcription.
Frédéric François Chopin (22 February 1810 / 1 March - 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer, virtuoso pianist, and music teacher, of French-Polish parentage. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music. Chopin is also known as "The poet of the Piano". Chopin was born in ?elazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw. A renowned child-prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw and completed his musical education there. Following the Russian suppression of the Polish November 1830 Uprising, Chopin settled in Paris as part of the Polish Great Emigration. He supported himself as a composer and piano teacher, giving few public performances. From 1837 to 1847 he carried on a relationship with the French woman writer George Sand. For most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health; he died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39. Most of Chopin's works involve the piano. They are technically demanding but emphasize nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented the musical form known as the instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise, étude, impromptu and prélude.
Great composers of classical music