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Valentina Lisitsa: the Bieber of Classical music goes minimal

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]
posted by filthy light thief on May 8, 2014 - 12 comments

Music saves me still

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]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 23, 2014 - 53 comments

'The FASTEST pianist in the world'*

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]
posted by misteraitch on Nov 21, 2013 - 31 comments

The Sound Da Vinci Invented, but Never Heard

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]
posted by saulgoodman on Nov 18, 2013 - 43 comments

A Rather Extraordinary Piano Recital

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.)
posted by Rory Marinich on Nov 15, 2013 - 32 comments

Oh my but that big country elephant can play!

12 Bar Blues – A piano duet with Peter the Elephant. [via]
posted by quin on Oct 17, 2013 - 11 comments

So here we are now standing at the grave / Trying so hard to best behave

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.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 25, 2013 - 11 comments

Variations on the Goldberg Variations

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.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 24, 2013 - 30 comments

"I have been mindfucked before, but never with such sweetness" —YouTube

Finnish jazz pianist + beat boxer + guitarist = Iiro Rantala's Shit Catapault. Equal parts hilarious, bouncy, groovy, and unexpectedly moving.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 17, 2013 - 18 comments

I got rhythm

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.
posted by creeky on Sep 3, 2013 - 2 comments

Horowitz at the White House (1978)

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]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 1, 2013 - 5 comments

and rare flowers on the shelves will bloom for us beneath a lovelier sky

Chouchou are a Japanese duo of artist/musicians who make haunting, ethereal electronic lullabies of otherworldly beauty. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Aug 29, 2013 - 3 comments

"I detest audiences....I think they're a force of evil."

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
posted by seemoreglass on Jun 4, 2013 - 19 comments

Mr. Showmanship

"Behind the Candelabra" and the Queerness of Liberace
posted by Artw on May 29, 2013 - 70 comments

14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Held once every four years, the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is being livecast. Running from May 24th to June 9th, performers — some of the best young pianists in the world — are currently in the preliminary round.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on May 26, 2013 - 11 comments

An enjoyable evening at the symphony hall

Russian born composer and pianist Sonya Belousova has begun a new series of performances in combination with Stan Lee’s World of Heroes titled Cospay Piano. Episode 1 was The Walking Dead, Episode 2 is Batman.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 9, 2013 - 2 comments

Goodnight, Bebo

Bebo Valdes has passed away. A giant of Cuban music, he was a "big man whose music revealed a huge heart." He famously worked with Nat King Cole, and also handed down his musical chops to son Chucho, who would become one of the founding members of the band Irakere. There are some videos inside the fold to allow us to celebrate Bebo and his music. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Mar 22, 2013 - 11 comments

Dark sarcasm

[soundcloud] Classical piano take on Pink Floyd by The Royal Academy of Music Master’s Degree Graduate Aysedeniz Gokcin. -via-
posted by maggieb on Jan 22, 2013 - 23 comments

Olivier Messiaen's "Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus"

To say that Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus (Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus) is a masterpiece is a gross understatement. Over sixty years after its composition, it has rightfully earned the recognition of being one of the most important piano works of the 20th century. ... [It] is one of the most personal and intimate pieces Messiaen ever wrote, and it gives the listener a close look at Messiaen the person. Messiaen was a deeply religious person, and although his faith influenced every single piece he wrote, the Vingt Regards is almost like his own personal spiritual diary. - Keith Kerchoff [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Dec 13, 2012 - 16 comments

Rubinstein teaches Chopin

Pianist Arthur Rubinstein teaches the Chopin Ballade #1: Part 1, Part 2. Here is a Rubinstein recording of the ballade in full. [more inside]
posted by beisny on Nov 27, 2012 - 7 comments

“Anything you are shows up in your music …”

“Her early records are collectors’ items. Her writing and playing have become part of the pattern of jazz history. She has transcended the difficulties experienced by women in the music field and through several decades has held a position of eminence as one of jazz’s most original and creative pianists. She speaks softly: ‘Anything you are shows up in your music—jazz is whatever you are playing yourself, being yourself, letting your thoughts come through.’” Mary Lou Williams: Into The Sun, a conversational profile by fellow pianist Marian McPartland, 1964. [more inside]
posted by koeselitz on Nov 16, 2012 - 6 comments

"I have nothing to say, and I am saying it." John Cage, 9/5/1912 - 8/12/1992

In honor of the 100th birthday of iconoclastic composer John Cage (previously), NPR asked 33 musicians about the effect Cage has had on their art. The Los Angeles Times has a tour of Cage's travels and experiences in his native city. MeFi's own speicus has a long and excellent essay up at newmusicbox.org about the performer-composer relationship Cage shared with pianist David Tudor (who premiered, among other Cage works, 4'33"). And if you've always wanted to play prepared piano and lack an instrument you want to fill with nuts and bolts, there's an app for that.
posted by the_bone on Sep 5, 2012 - 45 comments

Hungarian majesty

Georges Cziffra warms up for the BBC, mixing improvisation with a bit of the first Chopin étude. [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 17, 2012 - 12 comments

Via Route 66, comes My Sweet Embraceable Moonlit in Vermont Lorraine by the King Cole Trio & Others

Nat King Cole Trio - Sweet Lorraine
Nat King Cole Trio - Route 66
Nat King Cole Trio - Embraceable You
Nat King Cole Trio - Moonlight in Vermont
Nat King Cole with Coleman Hawkins & the Oscar Peterson Trio - Sweet Lorraine
posted by y2karl on Jul 3, 2012 - 15 comments

Arthur Rubinstein plays Chopin

As a tribute to Frédéric Chopin, we take you to the home of Arthur Rubinstein - one of the most distinguished interpreters of his works. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on May 29, 2012 - 17 comments

A New Piece From Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is well-known for having been a child prodigy. A previously unknown composition of his, dated c. 1767, when he would have been 11 years old, (PDF of score) had it's premiere earlier this week. [more inside]
posted by bardophile on Mar 25, 2012 - 32 comments

Mastodon - Leviathan (Piano)

John Abbott plays metal covers on the piano. On the 20th March, he uploaded a 39 minute video of himself playing Mastodon's 2004 concept album, Leviathan, in its entirety. [more inside]
posted by knapah on Mar 22, 2012 - 13 comments

Dogs sing and play piano in a manner somewhat reminiscent of people

Have you melancholia? Watch therefore, as: Dogs sing and play piano in a manner somewhat reminiscent of people
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 6, 2012 - 21 comments

Bud Powell

No musician of Bud Powell’s era had such capacity for improvisatory excellence and was so ready to unleash it, instantly, in such concentrated form onstage. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 25, 2012 - 8 comments

Chaconne

Interpretations of Bach-Busoni's Chaconne.
posted by klue on Feb 25, 2012 - 9 comments

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz is the longest-running cultural program on National Public Radio - having been hosted by Ms. McPartland from June 4, 1978 through November 10, 2011. Her guests included Eubie Blake, Carla Bley, JoAnne Brackeen, Ray Charles, Alice Coltrane, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Dick Hyman, Ahmad Jamal, Keith Jarrett, Hank Jones, Oscar Peterson, Michel Petrucciani, Marcus Roberts, and McCoy Tyner.
posted by Trurl on Feb 19, 2012 - 25 comments

Kissin plays, Kissin talks

Evgeny Kissin is not only a phenomenally active, high-strung, and almost unfailing pianist, he also declaims poetry in public -- in Yiddish. [more inside]
posted by Namlit on Jan 6, 2012 - 5 comments

Circus Galop maximus

Marc-André Hamelin composed Circus Galop for the player piano. Performing it is impossible for a mere pair of human hands, but two people have tried to fake it until they make it. Another has transcribed it (or half of it, perhaps) for one player. Often, people will run it through a MIDI sequencer of their choice, to make a lively animation. Some have built Arduino robots that perform it. But, in the end, the best medium for a work this insane is the humble, yet manic player piano (less manic, but clearer-sounding performance here). Hamelin himself has run his composition through one, managing to get his television host to start dancing as the closing credits fade out...
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jan 3, 2012 - 34 comments

Nyan vs Nyan

Contrapuntal garbage on "Nyan Cat" (cf. the rules of counterpoint)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Dec 29, 2011 - 24 comments

"We were originally from Trenton, and I performed at a lot of PTA functions."

Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were a musical duo famous (or infamous) for their off-key but spirited interpretations of such classics as Tiptoe through the Tulips and I Am Woman. [more inside]
posted by usonian on Dec 2, 2011 - 25 comments

Horowitz in Moscow

In 1986,[Vladimir] Horowitz announced that he would return to the Soviet Union for the first time since 1925 to give recitals in Moscow and Leningrad. In the new atmosphere of communication and understanding between the USSR and the USA, these concerts were seen as events of political, as well as musical, significance. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Nov 25, 2011 - 13 comments

Steinway & Sons

Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037, a documentary by Ben Niles. "Invention for 900 Hands", a nine-part series in The New York Times. "K 2571: The Making of a Steinway Grand", an article in The Atlantic Monthly. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Nov 2, 2011 - 9 comments

Complete recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas

Artur Schnabel was the first pianist to record all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. He would not be the last. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Oct 20, 2011 - 22 comments

Straight, No Chaser

One of America's most idiosyncratic musical geniuses was, of course, the great Thelonious Monk (Wiki), and what better way to celebrate his birthday today than viewing (in its entirety!) an excellent documentary on the man and his music? Straight, No Chaser
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 10, 2011 - 25 comments

Bonus: there is a kitten on the front page!

Pianorama is minimalistic online radio service playing piano music 24/7 and with no ads. Frontage is in Russian, but it doesn't matter: just press little 'play' button to start listening.
posted by usertm on Oct 8, 2011 - 16 comments

The Pianist

Yuja Wang (official site / wikipedia) is a 24-year old, Chinese virtuoso classical pianist who became an overnight sensation in 2007 when she filled in after piano legend Martha Argerich, cancelled a performance with the Boston symphony. Since then, Ms. Wang has become a superstar in her own right, hailed by critics for her precise, passionate performances and lightning-fast technique. But after a recent appearance on-stage in a short red dress and high heels led to a critic's complaint about her outfit, others are now weighing in on whether it is appropriate for a female classical musician to wear revealing clothing. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 15, 2011 - 104 comments

"Ride of the Valkyries" arranged for 8 pianos

Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" arranged for 8 pianos - performed by Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Claude Frank, Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, James Levine, Mikhail Pletnev, and Staffan Scheja. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jun 24, 2011 - 24 comments

Music like shattered glass

Kashiwa Daisuke is a japanese post-rock musician, (formerly in Yodaka) who specializes in gorgeous, epic, glitchy piano pieces that constantly seem on the verge of falling apart... Stella, April 02, Write Once, Run Melos are my favorites.
posted by empath on Jun 2, 2011 - 39 comments

Chess Music

"For absolutely no good reason, I found myself wondering what a chess game would sound like if played on the piano"
posted by rollick on Mar 5, 2011 - 15 comments

wrong concerto

The lunch concerts in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw used to be (possibly still are) often public general rehearsals for the big evening series. Here we can see the mental transformation of pianist Maria Joao Pires, who expects another Mozart concerto than conductor Riccardo Chailly begins to conduct. [more inside]
posted by Namlit on Feb 19, 2011 - 17 comments

The silence of his departure

Jazz piano great Sir George Shearing has died at 91. [more inside]
posted by Bromius on Feb 14, 2011 - 27 comments

Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango" transcribed for piano four hands

Perhaps a more unusual piano four hands piece...
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 4, 2011 - 30 comments

Zoltán Kocsis recital

Part one: Beethoven - Piano sonata No. 27 in E minor, op. 90, Part two: Schubert - Piano sonata No. 7 in E minor, D.566, Part three: Piano sonata, Sz. 80. [more inside]
posted by Namlit on Jan 10, 2011 - 12 comments

Pianist's Hidden Identities

Classical pianists tend to be identified by their favorite repertoire. Thus, Murray Perahia got stamped as a Mozart and Schumann pianist in his early career, and people raised their eyebrows when he embarked on Liszt and other heavy repertoire. And Rudolf Serkin is today perhaps known best for his Beethoven, and not for the Chopin etudes he played in his earlier years. Searching for something totally else, I stumbled upon a few private recordings by Clara Haskil [more inside]
posted by Namlit on Nov 7, 2010 - 5 comments

Tickling the fancy of those who tickle the ivories

There's never been a better time to be a curious classical pianist. A few YouTube users have been uploading synchronized scores to dozens of interesting pieces, usually virtuosic and/or obscure, and often out of print or otherwise unavailable. There are all sorts of treasures, but perhaps the most notable scores are those of a lost generation of post-Scriabin Russian composers whose avant-garde output was later suppressed by the Soviet government.
posted by dfan on Nov 4, 2010 - 15 comments

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