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6 posts tagged with piano by Rory Marinich.
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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

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

Alkan

"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 - 20 comments

"We put out other ragtime records, too, and they sell terribly."

Reginald Robinson won a MacArthur Fellowship grant in 2004 for his original ragtime compositions, but has found it difficult to reach the public. "Even with the MacArthur 'genius' title … I'm invisible." [more inside]
posted by Rory Marinich on Mar 12, 2010 - 65 comments

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