"When it comes to modern day composers, the most prominent ones out there are names like Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu, Varèse and a couple more.... But when discussing these modern composers, the name ‘Kashiwa Daisuke’ is unlikely to be mentioned. The guy doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.... But he’s up there along with those ‘big’ names I just mentioned. Program Music I is the very proof of this." Consisting of two long pieces, Stella and Write Once, Run Melos, each evokes the feelings of specific stories, told with modern classical instrumentation, spacious post-rock, jazz piano, and some intentional digital glitches. Almost nine years after that first album, Kashiwa Daisuke has released Program Music II (video for the track "Meteor"), with less glitch and more euphoric elements. [more inside]
Márta and György Kurtág play Bach-transcriptions by Kurtág - The two play transcriptions made by the composer of Bach's choral prelude Das alte Jahr vergangen ist BWV 614, his Duet BWV 804 and a (devastating) movement from the Baroque composer's cantata Actus tragicus. [more inside]
The Inside-Out Piano. Pianist, inventor and performer Sarah Nicolls developed her unique ‘Inside-Out Piano’ to explore the belly of the instrument and to coax out some of its hidden sounds. In Moments Of Weightlessness, she explores the extraordinary unexpected characteristics of the instrument, moving it around the stage to gradually reveal her parallel journey into motherhood.
Murray Perahia on Bach - a 28 minute chat at the piano.
Comedian H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob's Burgers) has released his first experimental jazz album. He can't play the piano.
Every recording of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie 1” played at the same time, stretched to the length of the longest recording. About 60 versions of the piece incorporated - "less than I thought I would find, but enough," says the arranger. A lovely piece of musical architecture to roam around in. [via the always-excellent Disquiet.]
It was strangely sad, for some reason. Like two strangers met for a short distance of path in their lives because they had a common goal, and then one of them suddenly vanished, leaving the entirety of the task's weight and responsibility to the person that remained.Kavinsky — Nightcall (Samsung Cover Cover) by D___N builds on Kavinsky — Nightcall (Samsung Cover) by Arsen Sayadyan. [Via.] [more inside]
Young pianists from around the world have gathered in Warsaw for the 17th International Chopin Competition, which is now in the second day of its final round, streaming live beginning in half an hour. Today, Eric Lu, Szymon Nehring, and Georgijs Osokins will enter the
octagon Warsaw Philharmonic to interpret the piano concerto in E minor, op. 11. [more inside]
… a solid gold sledgehammer, that Liberace uses to destroy a piano.
In the early sixties, jazz pianist Bill Evans (previously) got his hands on a European EP that featured a cover of his signature piece Waltz for Debby, with Swedish lyrics, and vocals by young jazz vocalist Monica Zetterlund. Evans was floored. “I don't usually throw superlatives around, but let me tell you I am really exited about Monica's Waltz for Debby” he wrote in a letter to her record company. “I used to think that my waltz wasn't suited for vocal but look how wrong I was! Suddenly I feel like going to Sweden.” So he did: Monica Zetterlund with Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby/Monicas vals (live rehearsal from 1966). [more inside]
Watch French singer Patrick Bruel realize just how big his song J' te 'L'Dis Quand Meme had become, in a concert from the 90s. [more inside]
In 1976 Elton John was one of the biggest superstars in pop music. His album from the previous year, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was the first album to enter the Billboard charts at #1. The follow-up album, Rock of the Westies, was the second album in history to enter the charts at #1. But behind the outrageous costumes and garish glasses was a lonely man whose fame had grown to the point where he and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin started referring to it as "The Beast". Thousands of adoring fans all over the world wasn't enough; as Elton confided to interviewer Cliff Jahr, "I crave to be loved".
At the end of 2014 I had an immediate urge to release a solo piano album which I recorded some time ago, and I was looking for a specific occasion to do so. I wanted it to be a nice surprise for everyone, so I thought of a meaningful release date to begin with.Join with Nils Frahm in celebrating Piano Day by enjoying his album Solo for free (sample: "Wall"), or enjoy other celebrations of the piano in his Piano Day 2015 playlist.
Seconds later it came to my mind: I was about to create my own holiday in order to come up with a reason for this release. Moreover, if I could be proud of something, then of being responsible for an annual celebration of the piano. And here comes the best bit, Piano Day will happen on the 88th day of the year, which most of the time is the 29th of March. Piano Day is intended to be the most joyful of all holidays.
In 2010 Garrick Ohlsson, the first American to win The International Chopin Piano Competition (in 1970), delivered an insightful 80-minute lecture (plus Q&A) at UC Berkeley about what exactly makes Chopin's music so great. Highly recommended for anyone that likes seeing people who are really passionate about something explain their passion.
Audience can clap but ain't got no swing? No problem (if you're Harry Connick Jr.). (SLYT)
Take one part saw (1:15 in). Add one part glockenspiel and one part fiðla. Then, a dash of harmonium and some drum brushes. Accentuate with a cello, then layer with keyboards. Finally, add some piano and ensure there are two parts harp. Very carefully blend and Gleðileg jól! Amiina (previously) have bakaðar you a song.
Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas gets a whole lot of love, but for sheer musical enjoyment it shouldn't overshadow his work on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Here for your cooking-soundtrack pleasure are Thanksgiving Theme, Play it Again Charlie Brown (aka Charlie Brown Blues), Peppermint Patty, and Little Birdie (incidentally, Guaraldi's own vocal, and the first time any adult voice appeared on a Charlie Brown show). [more inside]
Pianogram - histogram + piano notes = pianogram; select from existing pieces or import your MIDI file. A part of Joey's Visual Playground.
Kate Davis performs 3 covers:
feat. Postmodern Jukebox - Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass
at New York Humane Society - Katy Perry's Roar
and three years ago on the Lennon Bus - Imagine
feat. Postmodern Jukebox - Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass
at New York Humane Society - Katy Perry's Roar
and three years ago on the Lennon Bus - Imagine
If you heard about the 7" record released for Record Store Day, "Understanding and Appreciating Classical Music with Ron Jeremy," you know Ron Jeremy plays piano with some level of proficiency and flair, and you could probably guess that he throws some crass humor into his act (yes, that's his favorite classical music/pianist joke, he drops it a lot). Ron f*cknig Jeremy also blows the harmonica (NSFW words and vaguely unsafe images), and shares his love of Christian worship music with a fairly rough rendition of Amazing Grace on the harmonica. [more inside]
Oscar Peterson interviews Joe Pass and Count Basie for his 1980 show "Words and Music." [more inside]
Pianist Jon Cleary is not a native New Orleanian (he hails from Cranbrook in Kent, England) but when it comes to the history and practice of New Orleans music, and piano music in particular, hell, you'd think he'd grown up on Basin Street or maybe next door to Tipitina's. You'll see what I mean when you watch this little clip, Jon Cleary - History of New Orleans Piano, and hear this masterful player roll through an exhaustive (and very entertaining) demonstration of the musical styles that the city is renowned and revered for.
Every Good Boy Does Fine: A life in piano lessons. [SLNewYorker]
Born in 1913, Rose Murphy was an imaginative and percussive jazz pianist and singer nicknamed "the Chee-Chee Girl" for obvious reasons. Although she didn't make many recordings, she continued to perform up until her death in 1989. [more inside]
PianoPhase.com is a Web-based recreation/visualization of the first section of American "minimalist" composer Steve Reich's landmark piece, Piano Phase (1967). Created by interactive artist Alexander Chen. [more inside]
In 2004, pianist Branka Parlić performed a series of pieces by Philip Glass at the synagogue at Novi Sad. Metamorphosis One. Metamorphosis Two. Metamorphosis Three. Metamorphosis Four. Metamorphosis Five. [more inside]
Valentina Lisitsa is a classical pianist who credits her current fame to YouTube, where she has uploaded more than 200 videos of her performances. Were it not for the popularity of these videos (Beethoven "Moonlight" Sonata op 27 # 2 Mov 3 - 7 million views; Beethoven "Für Elise" - 4 million; Liszt "La Campanella" - 3 million), she would be, in her own words, "totally dead" in "the age of child prodigies". Her newest work is not a thousand notes a minute as featured in some of her popular videos, but more minimal, as heard in "The Heart Asks Pleasure First," the first track from her album (Soundcloud snippet preview of all tracks) of music by minimalist composer Michael Nyman. [more inside]
Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known Holocaust survivor and subject of the film "The Lady in Number Six" has died at the age of 110. Before World War II, Alice was a concert pianist who travelled across Europe. During the war, Alice's mother and husband were sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered, and Alice and her six year old son were sent to Theresienstadt. Alice performed more than 100 concerts at Theresienstadt, and immigrated to Israel with her son after surviving the camp. [more inside]
Meet "Joe", the hardest working man in show business, as he pulls out all the stops in his virtuoso performance of 12th Street Rag, on what *may* be the world's last surviving Cremona Photo-player [PDF]. On the other hand, it might be just a run-of-the-mill player piano with some extra bells, whistles and car horns tacked on. At any rate, "Joe" is absolutely killing it. Go, "Joe", go!
A little bit of Christmas joy in Chicago's Union Station, courtesy of Amtrak.
Lubomyr Melnyk is a musician and composer who developed, in the 1970s, a distinctive way of playing piano very rapidly over extended periods of time, a style he terms ‘music in the continuous mode.’ Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in his work, including: re-releases of his 1979 debut LP KMH (in 2007) and of his 1985 collaboration with tubaist Melvyn Poore The Voice of Trees (in 2011); the release of a CD† of joint improvisations with the guitarist James Blackshaw (The Watchers, 2012); performances with Nils Frahm and with the artist Gregory Euclide (previously); and at least two new solo releases: Corollaries and Three Solo Pieces (both 2013). [more inside]
Leonardo Da Vinci is well known as a man who invented many things on paper that never found their way into three-dimensional reality. Some would later prove to be unworkable in reality. Others would later prove to be potentially life-saving. But not all of Da Vinci's inventions were of a practical nature. Consider his plans for the viola organista, a keyboard instrument containing a system of revolving wheels, strings and other machinery to create a kind of cello that can be played with a keyboard. Never constructed in Da Vinci's lifetime, the inventor himself could only imagine what it would actually sound like. We no longer have to imagine that. [more inside]
La Monte Young's The Well-Tuned Piano [2 3 4 5] is unlike anything you've heard before or will ever hear again. The notes are different from what you're used to, but what Young uses them for is... well. (If you don't have five hours to spend on a piano recital, may I suggest giving the first 4-5 minutes of disc three a go? It starts off briskly, builds to a scintillating pattern after a minute, and then, just before the three minute mark, the piano begins to roar.)
At the end of a long work week, maybe you could use a bit of relaxation. Pleasantly soothing, delightfully literal, PianoAndRain.com does what it says on the tin. [autoplay sounds, in case it wasn't obvious]
One day in February several years ago, William D. Drake – a distant cousin of famous folk musician Nick Drake – released two very different albums at once. There was Yew's Paw, a collection of strange and lovely piano music, such as the bouncy, joyful Pipistrelle, the sometimes-misty, sometimes-urgent At the End of the Harbour Wall. (Not to mention the aptly-named Short & Sweet Like A Donkey's Gallop, which is 17 satisfying seconds long.) Then there was Briny Hooves, a set of rock/folk/pop songs which are all confounding and fantastic. Wolves is an angry elegy that's nonetheless incredibly catchy; equally catchy is Serendipity Doodah. Ugly Fortress is a softer, Beatlesy sort of tune, The Fountains Smoke is a lovely folk duet, and Requiem for a Snail is exactly what it claims to be. Perhaps its two most affecting moments are Sweet Peace, a gently dark number that grows and grows, and Seahorse, which is very reminiscent of Robert Wyatt's (also wonderful) Rock Bottom. Both albums are worth a listen, and both can be streamed freely from Bandcamp—Yew's Paw, Briny Hooves, and Drake's more recent album The Rising of the Lights.
Why I Hate the Goldberg Variations, by Jeremy Denk, whose new (lovely) recording of the Goldberg Variations is now streaming on NPR. Also by Denk: Hannibal Lecter's Guide to the Goldberg Variations, which explores the famous cannibal killer through the lens of Bach. This is Your Brain on the Goldberg Variations, which gets in-depth on just how the Variations vary.
Finnish jazz pianist + beat boxer + guitarist = Iiro Rantala's Shit Catapault. Equal parts hilarious, bouncy, groovy, and unexpectedly moving.
Henry Hey did it to Bush and Palin. Drewsif Stalin did it to the "Have you ever had a dream?" kid. And now Dan Weiss has done it to auctioneer Ty Thompson. There's music in people's words.
In 1978 President Jimmy Carter invited Vladimir Horowitz to play at the White House for his guests and the Public Television viewing audience, here it is in its entirety. (1:07:55) [more inside]
Chouchou are a Japanese duo of artist/musicians who make haunting, ethereal electronic lullabies of otherworldly beauty. [more inside]
Obit page on NPR "Marian McPartland, who gave the world an intimate, insider's perspective on one of the most elusive topics in music — jazz improvisation — died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. She was 95." - from the lead of the article
Old records wear out, and sheet can't really describe the swing of jazz, ragtime and blues—but a good player piano roll captures the style and rhythm of a live performance and preserves it for generations to come. [more inside]
Of the many available documentaries about the pianist Glenn Gould, "Genius within - The inner life of Glenn Gould" is one of the more thoughtful ones. [more inside]
Richter: The Enigma 1, 2. In Tours. At the Moscow Conservatory. At the Barbican 1, 2. Well-Tempered Clavier. Italian Concerto. Beethoven Sonatas. TL;DW: Richter plays Chopin
Steve Reich's 3-movement (Fast, Slow, Fast) somewhat jazzy, somewhat rock-ish 2x5 was composed for 5 musicians and prerecorded tape, or two groups of five musicians. Here is Bang On A Can All-Stars (6 of them, no idea why) performing the piece. [20m] Here is a large group of BOACA-S performing it as a 10-piece ensemble. [21m] [more inside]
Glenn Gould on and off the record. The Russian Journey. Extasis. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. The Goldberg Variations (1955), (1981). The Well-Tempered Clavier. Beethoven Sonatas. The Idea of North. TL;DW: Gould plays Bach