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Piano Street's Classical Piano News

- your guide to the classical piano world.
The Goldberg Variations Streamed from Bach’s Church in Leipzig

November 19-22 all fans of great piano music have the opportunity to hear a once in a lifetime live concert with Lang Lang performing the Goldberg Variations streamed from J.S. Bach’s Leipzig church. The stream will take place on DG Stage, a new video music service for classical concert streams from Deutsche Grammophon.

Stream starts Thursday 2020-11-19, 19:00 and can be watched on demand until 2020-11-22, 19:00 (GMT).
Get your ticket on www.dg-premium.com (9.90 EUR)

Free tickets for Piano Street’s members

Deutsche Grammophon cordially invites the Piano Street members to this unique online concert experience on DG Stage. 100 free tickets are available.

Log in to your Piano Street account and visit this special page to get your free online ticket for DG Stage. First come, first served.

An Extensive Album Release

The Goldberg Variations album with Lang Lang was released on September 4 on DG. Also available is a super deluxe edition featuring not only Lang Lang’s studio recording but a performance captured live in concert at Leipzig, where the composer worked and is buried. This coupling of studio and live recordings, a world first for the “Goldbergs”, offers fascinating insights into the art of interpretation.

The concert which took place in Leipzig’s Thomaskirche in March 2020 was Lang Lang’s second ever live performance of the work. Although he was very aware of the composer’s long association with the church, the emotional impact of playing this monumental work just metres from Bach’s grave still took him by surprise. Lang Lang is now giving fans the chance to experience the unique atmosphere of this recital, through a special streamed concert on DG Stage.


“The more time I spent with the Goldberg Variations, the more I wanted to know about Bach, his contemporaries and the composers he later inspired,” explains Lang Lang. “From a vocal number by Stölzel that was obviously popular in the Bach household and a work by the young Goldberg himself, to a beautiful miniature by Schumann – who loved and studied Bach throughout his life – via solo piano arrangements of some of Bach’s loveliest vocal and instrumental writing, all seven of the pieces I’ve just recorded as part of this project have added to my understanding of his music.”

The new platform DG Stage

DG Stage – The Classical Concert Hall, is a new online platform featuring exclusively produced classical concert streams by the world’s leading artists. The pioneering online venture, developed within the DG Premium platform, expands Deutsche Grammophon’s commitment to great music, inspirational artists and new technology. International audiences will be able to watch a broad range of classical concerts, including piano recitals, chamber music sessions and orchestra and opera performances, exclusively produced live on tape for DG Stage.


/nilsjohan

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A Scottish-Viennese Odyssey

When Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam was in Sweden in September to play two piano concertos with Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, we talked with the performer in the midst of rehearsal. The concert was recorded for Helsingborg Concert Hall Play series and – according to Brautigam – Sally Beamish’s 1st piano concerto named ”Hill Stanzas” and Mozart’s 17th, make a very fine musical combination in a concert program.

Piano Street: You are here in Sweden to perform two piano concertos with Helsingborg Symphony and conductor David Nieman. We are all familiar with piano concertos but not so much with one of its composers; contemporary British Sally Beamish. What has nourished your interest in her music?

Ronald Brautigam: I Met Sally in Manchester when I was playing with the BBC Philharmonic with Andrew Manze who used to be the conductor here in Helsingborg, and they were playing a premiere of a piece she’d written and I liked her music. I knew her music because a lot of it has come out on the same company where I record with, and it’s a sort of music that appeals to me and especially the fact that she is Scottish and my wife being Scottish too. I’ve always had a very strong relationship with the country. That was actually why I contacted her and asked if she was interested in writing a piano concerto for me, and she immediately said yes, and we met up. She came to Amsterdam, we met and talked about what sort of music and what kind of ideas I had and in the end we both came up with the idea of something inspired by the landscape of the Grampian Mountains which is the central part of the Scottish Highlands where I spend lots of time during the summer, and she went there and composed the piece in the middle of this nature between all the birds and the deer and waterfalls. And so a lot of that is incorporated into the music.

PS: So it’s basically nature based?

RB: It’s actually based on a book by a Scottish author, Nan Shepherd, who writes about her walk through the Cairngorms, and she incorporated this into the music. And in the third and fourth movement, we are suddenly tucked into Scottish Folk history and folk stories about ghosts, violinists and things. When you walk in Scotland and you’ve had a few glasses of whiskey, this sort of horror stories come naturally to you.

PS: Beamish has composed concertos for other instruments such as viola, cello, trumpet and flute and has herself a background as an orchestral (violist) musician. How would you describe this quality when it comes to writing for the piano?

RB: Well, apart from being a viola player, I think she’s a very capable pianist, although she would deny that herself, so she knows exactly what’s possible and what’s not possible. It’s a challenging piano part but all playable. I think she even tried to play it herself and that’s always a good sign. She knows how to write for the piano and after this concerto she has written two other piano concertos. There are three concertos which were written in quite a short time, a triptych where one is about the waters of Scotland, their storms and danger spots for ships and fishing and the way you can really go down. The other one is more about Scottish cities. So it’s a Scottish triptych, these three piano concertos. Nature, the water and the cities.

PS: The piano concerto you’re playing today, did you make it in a collaboration or in conversation?

RB: I always find you should let a composer do whatever they want to do and don’t interfere, just play what they write. Sally knew my playing and I think she mentioned somewhere my lovely sound and beautiful touch, and a lot of that is to be found in the music, so it’s written with the performer in mind.

PS: We mostly know you in the Viennese Classical repertoire – both on period instruments and on modern. Which are your personal thoughts on the second concerto this evening; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17.

RB: I find it being one of Mozart’s most spectacular piano concertos. It’s so beautiful. The first movement is this almost like it’s got a bit of shyness the way it starts. As if Mozart opens the door and says is it safe to come in… If you compare that to the final part of the last movement which is pure joy, and almost like slapstick throwing pies at each other. I mean it’s got all his character traits in one piano concerto, a very serious slow movement. So it’s great music to play. I absolutely love it!

PS: Is it often played, this concerto?

Not as often as for instance the big A major or the C and D Minor Concertos. Those are the war horses on stage. There’s such an enormous amount of Mozart Concertos to choose from. This was actually the same piano concerto that I played at all the premiere concerts and the Beamish Concerto in combination with this Mozart piano concerto makes a very nice combo.

Watch the recorded livestream:


/patrick

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A Livestreamed Chopin Celebration in Warsaw

While the 18th Chopin Competition in Warsaw is postponed until 2021, the Chopin Institute will not leave the piano world lot-less. Beginning October 1st the Institute will celebrate Chopin’s music and pianism through a series of piano masters’ recitals and chamber concerts by a wonderful lineup of some of the most outstanding pianists of the previous editions of the competition.

The Grand Competition Momentum

The cycle of ten piano recitals will be live streamed from the National Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw starting October 1 – which is the originally planned inauguration date of the Chopin Competition. This specific date is also the day of the International Music Day, a celebration founded by legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin back in 1975 when he was serving as President of the International Music Council.

Watch the live streams at Chopin Institute’s YouTube Channel

Streaming schedule:


Nelson Goerner (Critic’s award 1995) – 4 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Lukas Geniušas (Second Prize 2010) – 5 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Marc Laforêt (Second Prize 1985) – 6 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Yulianna Avdeeva (Winner 2010) – 7 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Philippe Giusianno (Top prize winner 1995) – 8 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Gabriela Montero (Third Prize 1995) – 12 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Olli Mustonen – 16 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Kate Liu (Third Prize 2015) – 18 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.
Kevin Kenner (Top prize winner 1990), Apollon Musagète Quartett – 19 Oct 2020, 17:30 p.m.

A detailed program is available here:
https://muzyka.nifc.pl/en/koncerty/przed-wielkim-konkursem

So, October 4 until October 19 we will hear Argentinian Nelson Goerner, who earned Critics’ Award 1995 and since then also functions as a frequent competition juror, Lukas Geniušas from Russia/Lithuania who earned Second Prize 2010 and later also was awarded a shared Second Prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow 2015, French Marc Laforêt, Second Prize 1985, was coached by Arthur Rubinstein a.o. and started his recording career with EMI back in the vinyl days, Russian Yulianna Avdeeva was the fourth woman to have won the competition in 2010 and displays a broad interest in the whole piano repertoire. French Philippe Giusiano earned Top Prize in 1995 when the jury resolved not to award the First Prize and has mainly engaged in works by Chopin and Rachmaninoff. The Third Prize that same year was earned by Venezuelan Gabriela Montero, who has emerged as a performer with outstanding and unique skills in improvisation. Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen is not a competition prize winner but known to international audiences through his highly individual and engaging performances and American Kate Liu, a Curtis Institute graduate who also earned the special prize for the best performance of Mazurkas. The cycle of concerts will finally be rounded up by the two Chopin Piano Concertos in chamber version – not known by everybody – interpreted by the American Kevin Kenner, Top Prize winner 1990 and Apollon Musagète Quartet and Slawomir Rozlach on double bass. This will be followed by a gala presentation of the ensemble’s new recording of these concertos. Kenner earlier took instruction from Leon Fleisher a.o. and functions as professor at Royal College of Music in London.

More on past competitions and prize winners of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
http://chopin2015.medici.tv/en/page/laureates


/patrick

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Igor Levit – Reaching Out, Looking Inwards

On “Encounter”, Igor Levit has recorded a selection of the pieces he played in his spontaneous, live-streamed performances during this spring’s lockdown. The result is an album marked by a desire for human and spiritual love and togetherness.

When all live performances were cancelled, Igor Levit decided to take matters into his own hands: he started streaming recitals from his living room. And since he doesn’t do things half-heartedly, he decided to livestream a new recital every day. These concerts became hugely popular and were watched globally by thousands, until after 52 days he declared he needed some silence.

“The restricted isolation in the weeks since mid-March 2020 was often difficult for me too. As an artist, however, I have never felt so free, so open in my life as on those days when I often only decided half an hour before the live stream what I would play in my house concerts.”

Discovering the benefits of isolation

Being able to make music without any compulsion, choosing pieces freely after his current state of mind, he found that his playing achieved a level of freedom that he had never experienced before. And after ending his long streak of live streamings, it felt right to record these pieces, “because they did good to me – they helped me.”

The program includes rarely played arrangements of J.S. Bach and Johannes Brahms by Ferruccio Busoni and Max Reger, as well as Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari. “What combines these pieces, says Levit, “is a sense of encounter with something or someone – with God, with yourself, with fear, with love…”

A journey inward

The program is like a long diminuendo, moving from the rich sonorities of Busoni’s Bach arrangements, to the extremely spare textures in Morton Feldman’s final work for piano. For Levit, this represents a kind of gradual shutting down of the outer world, until in Palais de Mari “all that is left is the space – no message, no content, just you in a sounding room.”

The album and liner notes are available on Piano Street/Naxos for Gold Members:


/david

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Ten Days, Five Concertos – Bezuidenhout’s Beethoven Challenge

Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado and the Freiburger Barockorchester have made an exciting period-instrument trilogy of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos that looks likely to become a landmark recording. All five concertos were recorded during an intense ten-day session.

The idea was born during Bezuidenhout’s tour with the Freiburg Orchestra in 2015, playing Beethoven’s C minor concerto . At some point it was proposed that they record all five of these enigmatic pieces in one shot. Kristian explains:

“On the face of it, I was seriously attracted by the idea of spending so much time with Beethoven – after all, I had done a similar thing with the solo music of Mozart and have become convinced that true immersion in the language of a composer (particularly in the recording studio) is only really possible when one has no distractions. With the benefit of hindsight, however, the plan and the entire experience now seems utterly deranged, lunatic, nigh-impossible and physically exhausting at times to the point of despair. Yet, somehow, and with equal power, an experience of such magic, and deep spiritual enrichment.”

Released and Upcoming Albums

The two albums released so far have attracted high praise from critics: Patrick Rucker of Gramophone wrote of the first instalment: “I doubt that Beethoven, at least recently, has sounded quite so original or so much fun.” Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 are due in 2021.

– Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 5
– Piano Concerto No. 4 / Coriolan Overture / Prometheus Overture
– Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 (coming soon)

Selected albums available on Piano Street / Naxos (for Gold Members):

NEW! Click the album cover to listen to the complete album.
This feature is available for Gold members of pianostreet.com

Concertos 1-3 – Live in Melbourne

Bezuidenhout has a long and fruitful relationship with Freiburg – as their Artistic Director since 2017, he often play-directs programmes with the orchestra, as in this performance of Concertos 1-3, Melbourne, March 2020.

Beethoven’s 5 Piano Concertos – Digital Sheet Music:

About Kristian Bezuidenhout

Kristian Bezuidenhout first gained international recognition at the age of 21 after winning the first prize, and audience prize, in the Bruges Fortepiano Competition. His rich and award-winning discography on Harmonia Mundi includes the complete keyboard music of Mozart (Diapason d’Or de L’année, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, & Caecilia Prize); Mozart Violin Sonatas with Petra Müllejans; Mendelssohn and Mozart Piano Concertos; and songs by Beethoven, Mozart, and Schumann with tenor Mark Padmore.


/david

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