Saturday, August 27, 2016
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.
The pianist and conductor who died suddenly last month, aged 43, was widely loved and is sorely missed. So friends are putting on a concert at the end of the month to share memories and celebrate his life. Details here. Come one, come all. Message from the One World Symphony: The musical Tribute will include music from Beethoven’s Fidelio and Pastoral Symphony, Arvo Part’s Fratres (“Brothers”), Joan Tower, Lawrence Rush (one of Lloyd’s many friends), and Lloyd himself. During the “Fellowship” (potluck reception), the Bob Page Jazz Trio will serenade all the guests. Like many musicians, One World Symphony’s Sung Jin Hong has been devastated and has been reeling from the unexpected loss of his dear friend Lloyd. With One World Symphony, Lloyd has performed as the featured soloist on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in the sold-out Town Hall Debut and Ravel’s Piano Concerto. He was also the collaborative pianist for numerous auditions and rehearsals for many of our opera productions. Sung Jin has been working non-stop to reach out and gather artists to celebrate the life and spirit of Lloyd during this high summer. At this time, we’ll have more than 60 musicians at Lloyd’s Tribute and Fellowship. Many of our artists have shared their memories of Lloyd in the “Artists’ Opening Chords”: http://oneworldsymphony.org/concerts2016_LloydArriolaTribute_chords.shtml
In my view, conductor Mariss Jansons has excellent skills in leading an orchestra. I sense that he is always prepared, knows the music cold, and has excellent eye contact with his players. Now you get to judge for yourself, via the new recording of his CD titled “Rhapsody” This is a Live-Recording, done in Munich, at the Herkulessaal, featuring the following music: Chabrier: España Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody in A major, Op. 11 No. 1 Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, with Denis Matsuev (piano) Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody, S244 No. 2 in C sharp minor Ravel: Rhapsodie Espagnole All performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons conducting. With his rhapsody “España” the Frenchman Emmanuel Chabrier focused on the Iberian music and folk music so popular at the time, as did his more famous compatriot Maurice Ravel with his “Rhapsodie espagnole”, the four-movement structure of which still harks back to long-outdated symphonic forms. From the Hungarian-born Franz Liszt we have the famous “Hungarian Rhapsody” No. 2, and from the Romanian composer George Enescu the scarcely less famous and popular “Romanian Rhapsody”. The American George Gershwin created what was probably the most famous example of the genre in the 20th century with his “Rhapsody in Blue” scored for piano and orchestra. Here is Mr Jansons, leading the orchestra in the Rumanian Rhapsody by Enescu:
The opera singer played the jealous general opposite Imogen Stubbs and Ian McKellen in a 1989 RSC version. He remembers the play as a crushing experienceOver the years, people have asked me whether I’d ever sing Verdi’s Otello. But of course it’s a tenor role, and I’m a bass, so I just smiled. I’d thought about Shakespeare’s play, of course, but always assumed I was in the wrong genre. Then I was working with director Trevor Nunn on a production of Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess at Glyndebourne in 1987, and he suggested it. Part of me never expected it to happen. But then a few years later he came back, and introduced me to Ian McKellen, who was going to play Iago. I cancelled the operas I’d been planning to do and made time for this instead. Continue reading...
Phantasm, Elizabeth Kenny (lute) (Linn)“The most sensuously tuneful hour of music ever written”, is Phantasm director Laurence Dreyfus’s wittily provocative description of Dowland’s Lachrimae; you might expect it to be said of Puccini or Gershwin, but of Dowland in 1604? Yet it’s apt, because several of the lively dances that follow the sad pavans are versions of Dowland’s wonderful songs. Can She Excuse My Wrongs works better as The Earl of Essex Galliard, with its repeated notes and syncopated rhythms. At the heart of this disc are the seven variants of the utterly memorable Lachrimae theme, played by Phantasm with their expressive warmth and exquisite subtlety. Perhaps Elizabeth Kenny’s lute is underbalanced, but this is otherwise perfect. Continue reading...
Bebbington/RPO/Botstein (Somm)Pianist Mark Bebbington brings a nice balance of swagger and thoughtfulness to this all-Gershwin programme. He has said he finds a “Mahlerian melancholy” in the second movement of the Concerto in F, which is almost a concerto in itself, and his playing here is supported by some shapely and characterful wind playing. But the whole work brings a tautly wound performance under conductor Leon Botstein. Rhapsody in Blue starts with a clarinet solo even more languorous than usual, and the RPO’s colours at times are almost garish – the muted trumpets play up the wah-wahs for all they’re worth. But the performance is light on its feet, and the Variations on I Got Rhythm are similarly persuasive. An extra CD claims to offer the first recording as a complete set of the eight Preludes – five more than most will be familiar with in this form, all snappily played. Continue reading...
George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), as well as the opera, Porgy and Bess (1935). He wrote most of his vocal and theatrical works, including more than a dozen Broadway shows, in collaboration with his elder brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin. George Gershwin composed music for both Broadway and the classical concert hall, as well as popular songs that brought his work to an even wider public. His compositions have been used in numerous films and on television, and many became jazz standards recorded in numerous variations. Countless singers and musicians have recorded Gershwin songs.
Great composers of classical music