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 -
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 -
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 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 -
"In a way I wish it did not require such a formidable technique, because I do not really enjoy sweating over this music." This is virtuoso pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin speaking of Charles-Valentin Alkan
, the Romantic pianist said to have made even Liszt nervous, and whose exhilarating works fell into obscurity due to their rigorous technical demands. For a warm-up, here's Alkan's major etude "Allegro barbaro"
, as performed by Jack Gibbons. A machine recording of his piece Le Chemin de Fer
in which you can see the keys being pressed. Recordings of Youtube exist of people attempting his near-impossible Scherzo focoso
(and, for comparison, a mechanical rendition of the same
). And for encore, here is Hamelin again playing Les Quatre Ages
, frequently considered Alkan's most mature work, a sonata depicting the four ages of man.
posted by Rory Marinich
on Jul 29, 2010 -
from the 2010 Old-Time Piano Championship
in Peoria. Featuring early March, Cakewalk, Ragtime, Boogie, Stride, Blues, Novelty, Jazz, Classical, and popular song styles from before 1930.
posted by gman
on Jun 20, 2010 -
[Martha] Argerich brings to bear qualities that are seldom contained in one person: she is a pianist of brainteasing technical agility; she is a charismatic woman with an enigmatic reputation; she is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music. This last may be the quality that sets her apart. A lot of pianists play huge double octaves; a lot of pianists photograph well. But few have the unerring naturalness of phrasing that allows them to embody the music rather than interpret it.
- Alex Ross, "Madame X". The New Yorker
- November 12, 2001
posted by Joe Beese
on Jun 9, 2010 -
What's the most difficult piano piece?
. Is it La Campanella
, written by Liszt to show off what only he could do? (performance
) Is it Balakirev's Islamey
, which even Balakirev struggled to play? (performance
) Or Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit
, written to top Islamey
) Does Godowsky double his points by reconfiguring the already-difficult Chopin for the left hand? (performance
) And if someone plays all four hours of Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum
, written across four staves to fit the extra notes, will anyone listen? (perfomance excerpts
, score excerpts
posted by argybarg
on Jan 6, 2007 -