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The Final Countdown: Leeds International Piano Competition – Finals Start Tonight

In the new edition of the Leeds International Piano Competition we have now enjoyed the diversity of the ten Semi-Finalists. Just in “the middle of the battle” Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell had the chance to ask the competition’s Co-Artistic Director, Adam Gatehouse a few questions.

Patrick Jovell: The friendly ”piano festival” feeling is evident for the audience as well as for the contestants. Which are your impressions so far?

Adam Gatehouse: We could not be more delighted with the atmosphere of a friendly festival that is being created around the competition. Many different communities in Leeds have really become involved through playing the pianos on the Piano Trail, and visiting the World’s Smallest Concert Hall in the Shipping Container. There is already a much more inclusive feeling around the city regarding the Competition that is being held.

PJ: The offered Master-classes and lectures are something we usually don’t see at the most prominent piano competitions. How were these received by the participants and competition goers?

AG: Both competitors and competition audiences have responded very favourably to the masterclasses – these have been quite an attraction for the very keen members of the audience and many competitors have thrown themselves into it with huge enthusiasm. One competitor was even dancing during his masterclass!

PJ: You have connected the competition to the international world and auditions were earlier held in Berlin, New York and Singapore. Has this effected the width of participation?

AG: We had 27 countries represented among the 68 pianists chosen for the First Round. This was a fantastic breadth of representation from across the world and surely illustrates huge global reputation of the Leeds International Piano Competition. we know no boundaries!

PJ: The five finalists now face the momentum with the jury’s choice of a concerto with orchestra. What would you say is the most important quality to communicate as a contestant in this specific and crucial moment of the competition?

AG: I think the most important thing is to communicate how they feel in their souls about the music and to bring across to all the listeners their joy in making music with this wonderful orchestra. That is what it is all about isn’t it?

PJ: We will leave you to your busy schedule now, but we know that the Leeds Competition is not closing up when Mr. Lang Lang has given out the prizes. Which Leeds projects are coming up after the competition for us to keep our eyes open for?

AG: Leeds Piano Festival in March/April 2019 in Leeds and London, and then again in 2020. And of course there will be the many appearances worldwide of our winner(s) including Liverpool next week, Eindhoven in October, Bristol in November, and then in 2019 appearances with the Halle Orchestra, at Wigmore Hall and tours of Europe (Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Denmark) and South Korea in 2019.


The Final Round

After the semifinals the Leeds International Piano Competition has now announced the five finalists who will play concertos chosen by the jury as follows:

Final 1: Friday 14 September

7.00 pm (GMT): Aljoša Jurinić (Croatia)
Mozart – Concerto in C minor K491

7.50 pm: Anna Geniushene (Russia)
Prokofiev – Concerto No. 3 in C major Op.26

9.00 pm: Mario Häring (Germany)
Beethoven – Concerto No. 1 in C major Op. 15

Final 2: Saturday 15 September

7.00 pm: Xinyuan Wang (China)
Schumann – Piano Concerto in A minor Op.54

7.50 pm: Eric Lu (USA)
Beethoven – Concerto No. 4 in G major Op.58

9.00 pm: Results and Presentations

Follow the live stream at leedspiano2018.medici.tv

Read more about the Leeds Piano Competition 2018


/nilsjohan

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Beethoven Hammerklavier & Moonlight Sonatas – Murray Perahia

Murray Perahia has spent a lot of time with Beethoven throughout his long and successful career. Still, it was only when he passed the 70-year mark that he felt ready to perform and record the “Hammerklavier” — a sonata which is something of the ultimate test of a pianist’s technique, stamina, and musical understanding.

An Unsentimental but Still Expressive Experience

In his recently released album, Perahia couples the Hammerklavier Sonata, op 106 with the Moonlight Sonata, op 27 no 2; the juxtaposition of these two very contrasting works seems to highlight just how limitless and groundbreaking Beethoven was as a composer for the piano. Add Perahia’s unsentimental yet expressive playing, and suddenly even the old Moonlight turns into something of a new experience.

“… his insights into the motivations behind the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata are absolutely remarkable. Here we find an Aeolian harp – or what Beethoven’s idea of one may have been – and some imaginative associations with nothing less than Romeo and Juliet.” — Jessica Duchen

A Fast and Thrilling Ride

The Hammerklavier can feel like an overwhelming structure to get lost in, but here it’s a thrilling ride, sweeping you along. Perahia’s tempos are fast, but the music never feels hurried, thanks to his faultless technique and tasteful rubato. The slow movement has calm, tenderness and poise but it never loses its sense of direction. The sound is warm, rich and resonant without obscuring the impressive clarity of articulation — just listen to the concluding fugue, which is a real feat of transparency.

Doubtless, it’s been worth the wait to hear Perahia in this repertoire!

NEW! Click the album cover to listen to the complete album.
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Perahia Plays Beethoven Moonlight and Hammerklavier

| Play album >> | Download CD cover >> |

Recording: Berlin, Funkhaus Nalepastraße, Saal 1, 11/2016 (op. 106) & 7/2017 (op. 27 no. 2)

Listen on Spotify >>
View the album on Amazon >>


Sheet music to download and print

Beethoven Moonlight Sonata

Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata - piano sheet music


/david

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How to Play Piano Chords

Do you want to know how to play chords on piano? This page will provide you with the best online chord resources. Where to look depends on your purpose.

Getting Started

Do you want to quickly figure out the notes of a specific chord? Then visit one of the many sites with piano chord charts. Here are two of the best ones:

8notes.com/piano_chord_chart/
This is a classic chord chart, easy to understand and navigate. The site also has a very good music theory section. A nice feature is the Chord finder, where you can enter note names and find out which chord they create.

pianochord.com/list-of-chords
The best part of this site is the function allowing you to shift the voicing of the chords. In short, you can study how a certain chord looks and sounds when the notes are not stacked closely as in most charts, but spread out in different octaves.

Learn more about Piano Chords

Would you like to learn more about piano chords and how to use them? Well, there is a lot of information out there, easy to find but perhaps not always so easy to put into practice. You need a bit of background information to understand the principles behind creating chords. Some of the piano chord sites won’t tell you enough about this. Others confuse you with too much theory where it isn’t needed. Here’s a short list of piano chord resources on the internet – all very useful, but for slightly different purposes.

zebrakeys.com/lessons/beginner/chords/
Beginner’s lessons. Teaches you the major chord and the three primary chords needed to play a great number of songs. You learn the chords by memorizing how they look and feel on the keyboard. Don’t go here for theory.

looknohands.com/chordhouse/piano/
In a way, this is just another chord chart. But if you already know a bit about theory, you will find the little summary of details at the bottom very useful, listing the intervals, half-steps and notes used for each chord type. You can also choose between strict or simplified spelling of the note names (which means you can avoid confusing stuff like double-sharps and double-flats etc.)

piano-keyboard-guide.com/piano-chords.html
Endless resources for pianists who like to read. You can pick up a lot of theory here, but explanations are sometimes unnecessarily wordy and repetitious. Although the free content will probably last you a lifetime, there are also lots of recommendations to buy various courses or books, which some may find annoying.

youtube.com/watch?v=gmvwZRwn-j0
One of the most popular piano chord tutorials on Youtube. Aimed at beginners – “Learn four chords to play hundreds of songs” – it’s both inspirational and useful. Among other things, it tells you how so called inversions (moving the lowest note of the chord up an octave) can be used in practice.

Chords vs Scales

In your quest to learn piano chords, sooner or later you will find out that chords and scales are more or less two sides of the same coin. In other words, if you haven’t already done so, learn a bit about the major and minor scale. Knowing how to construct a scale will also enable you to form all sorts of piano chords. Here are two short lessons explaining the basic theory behind scales:

Whole and half steps in scales:
musictheoryfundamentals.com/MusicTheory/intervals_part1.php

The major scale:
www.8notes.com/school/theory/the_major_scale.asp

Once you know a thing or two about scales and the concept of raising or lowering notes by half steps, the endless chord charts will begin to make more sense. You will be able to use the them to quickly understand different chord types rather than painstakingly memorize one chord at a time.


/david

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Another International Chopin Competition — on Period Instruments

On the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining of independence, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute organizes the first International Chopin Competition on period instruments in Warsaw Philharmonic Hall. Subsequent editions will follow every five years.

The event started on 2 September, and thirty pianists aged 18 to 34 have played in the first round. They are playing on pianos from the collections of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Erards, Pleyels, and Broadwoods from the mid 19th century), as well as originals and copies of period instruments brought in by European restorers and collectors.

The aim of the organizers is to revive the authentic sound of Chopin, by popularizing performance on period instruments. Through collaborations with Polish Television, the event is being streamed in high quality. Each performance is also available to watch afterward, providing an opportunity for music lovers all over the world to follow the competition in its entirety.

Competition Schedule

2-6 September: Stage I – recitals
8-10 September: Stage II – recitals
12-13 September: Final – concerto performances
14 September: Prize-Winners Concert
Detailed schedule >>

Follow the live stream on YouTube.


Read more at www.iccpi.pl


More Recommended Weekend Listening:

LIVE NOW: The Leeds International Piano Competition:
leedspiano2018.medici.tv
Read more:
Follow The Leeds International Piano Competition Online


/david

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The Art of Visionary Discovery – Interview with Enrico Pompili

A native of Bolzano, Italian pianist Enrico Pompili won several national competitions before being one of the finalists at the Dublin International Piano Competition. In 1994 he was second to Viktor Lyadov at the Hamamatsu Competition, and the following year he was awarded the top prize at the XIII Paloma O’Shea Competition. This success launched an international career starting from 1996. An ardent explorer of contemporary repertoire Pompili has put the spotlight on for example Niccolò Castiglioni on the Brilliant label, Alberto Ginastera’s complete piano works, and works by Alberto Bonera (Phoenix Classics). He has also released a collection of solo and two-piano works by American composer Michael Glenn Williams on the Stradivarius label.

Patrick Jovell: Enrico, your career has emerged in a very personal way since your piano competition prizes in the 1990s. You have put focus on lesser known repertoire and recorded albums with music by Ginastera, Castiglioni, and Michael Glenn Williams, among others. Tell me about your choice of focus, in relation to presenting interpretations from the standard repertoire, which is a huge market in itself.

Enrico Pompili: My favorite field, as you noticed, is the music of the 20th century and contemporary. This is mostly for two reasons. First, because this music is chronologically closer to the present times, and represents them more explicitly. Second, because it has been played less frequently, and doesn’t feel so much – or doesn’t feel at all – the effect of a “story of the interpretation”, which often influence our interpretations, especially of the music of the 19th century. This partial – or even total – lack of habit in dealing with this music allows a more rigorous approach to the text; and at the same time a more open field for the interpretation of that text, and for the imagination. For these reasons, I feel absolutely more inclined to the music of this period than the preceding ones. But this is not really correct, because I’m also into playing classical and pre-classical music. I don’t feel so comfortable when playing romantic music, although I also deal with romantic composers. But when I do, I play a smaller list of compositions, and often not the most celebrated ones.

PJ: You had a traditional schooling, with renowned teachers representing different historical backgrounds. Yet you feel that the contemporary language comes natural to you. Your toolbox is traditional, but which new ways do you explore pianistically through your contemporary projects? The differences in music styles are evident for the listener, but do you treat the contemporary text and material differently as an interpreter?

EP: There is no difference – at least, no greater difference than for example between romantic and classical music. The “toolbox” is principally the knowledge of different styles, and the meaning of the musical elements of these styles. To put it very simple: the “romantic” sound is different from the “classical” sound; the tempo of a menuet of the Baroque is totally different from the tempo of a neo-classical one, etc.

Having said that, the two aspects I instinctively follow in facing the contemporary text are the sound and the language. The sound is revealing, especially in my understanding of music betraying an explicit or hidden bond with the symbolist tradition, or anyway, evocating the inner world (my inclination, among the styles of the early 20th century, to impressionist music is not coincidental). In this case, without overlooking other structural aspects, I focus my attention on the sound and let it to suggest to me the interpretative way.

In more abstract music, I choose a more formal way – seeking, grasping or creating bonds between the elements of the text. For example, when I worked on the Françoise Variationen of Franco Donatoni, I concentrated my work into establishing relations between the many little “cells” of which this music is built. In different words, the interpretative crux of that piece was placed in the pauses between the cells.

In both cases – sound or language – I find the way through an attentive hearing. Another interesting experience concerning the “linguistic” aspect: I was invited years ago to collaborate as pianist in a master-class of composition in which were tested some aleatory techniques. [aleatory music: music in which some element of the composition is left to chance.] The compositions were rather short and often they didn’t convince the composers themselves. My challenge was to find possible relations between the elements, and so to create an “itinerary” in which there was a sense. When I found it, the music revealed an intimate linguistic cohesion, that surprised their authors.

This was obviously a borderline case, but it illustrates the meaning of the word “imagination” I used before, concerning interpretation.

PJ: Your recording with piano works of Niccolò Castiglioni (1932-96) from 2011, re-released 2017 on Brilliant Classics, contains an interesting and creative profile seeking booklet text on the composer by Paolo Castaldi. As a student of both Gulda and Zecchi, we understand that Castiglioni had a vast knowledge of the piano. How would you describe his way of composing for the instrument?

EP: The figure of Castiglioni has always fascinated me for the coherence of his music with his internal world. While many composers of his generation went on with the experimentations within that musical environment, interesting but also somewhat aggressive, known as avant-garde, Castiglioni soon detached himself from it. The spirituality that inspired his musical world couldn’t get along with the materialism that dominated the avant-garde, or with the musical products generated by this way of thinking. This distance lead him to develop a language in which, in my opinion, sound is the generative element; and also lead him to revisit classical forms. This predominance of the “concrete” aspect compared to the “idea”, is already strongly present in his compositions of the late 1950s, when Castiglioni was participating in the commotions of Darmstadt. “Cangianti”, of this period, is revealing of his poetics and of his vital approach to the instrument: it’s a piece full of colours and youthful enthusiasm, and piano-wise very well written. His subsequent isolation certainly had some influence on his piano writing, making it more essential. From this point of view, “Cangianti” remains his most luxuriant piano piece, yet the poetics of the following pieces remains the same: the “castiglionian” sound is always recognizable, both on the piano and on the other instruments. Olivier Messiaen, another composer of strong spirituality and who too used the piano as an instrument which can create colours, much appreciated the “light” of Castiglioni’s sound. Castiglioni was certainly a complex personality, and his wanting to isolate himself (probably connected to a form of autism) often gave rise to a smile in those who knew him, but as a composer he was an authority. I have found in Paolo Castaldi, he too an important composer and a great friend of Castiglioni’s, not only an extraordinary admiration towards him, but also a deep affection. I wanted to ask Castaldi to write the biography in the booklet, because it seemed to me that he was the person who had most deeply understood Castiglioni and his music.

Listen to the album Castiglioni: Piano Works on Spotify.

Listen to samples from the album Digital Animation (2009) by Michael Glenn Williams

From the Digital Animation two pianos recording sessions


/nilsjohan

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