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LIVE STREAM: Beethoven with Barenboim and Berliner Philharmoniker

Daniel Barenboim joins the Berliner Philharmoniker for three performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, led by chief conductor Kirill Petrenko. We are immensely happy about our continuous collaboration with Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall which enables us to invite our members to the live streaming of the January 11 performance in Berliner Philharmonie.

A long-time and renowned interpreter of Beethoven’s works, Barenboim performs as the soloist for this dark and dramatic concerto which marks the start of the Beethoven 250 year 2020. The program also includes Josef Suk’s expressive symphony “Asrael”.

Free tickets for Piano Street’s members

Thanks to a continuous collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall, all Piano Street members enjoy free access for 48 hours to the Digital Concert Hall. Log in to your Piano Street account to get your free voucher code which gives you instant access to the Digital Concert Hall. Take the opportunity to hear a live concert with Barenboim, Petrenko and Berliner Philharmoniker on Saturday 11 January 2020 and to access all concerts in the archive for 48 hours!

No Piano Street account? Sign up here to get your live stream ticket!

Members: Get your free 48 hours ticket! >>

LIVESTREAM: Saturday 11 January, 18.00 (UTC/GMT)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C minor, op. 37
Daniel Barenboim piano

Josef Suk: Symphony in C minor, op. 27 “Asrael”

In his Third Piano Concerto, Beethoven knew how to triumphally stage the pianist (himself, that is). After 111 orchestral bars, the piano begins with what could be called an imperious demonstration of power, as the soloist spans the whole keyboard in three run-ups, then practically gouges the main theme into the keys, forte and unisono: a show of manual strength with piled-up octaves, followed at once, admittedly, by an introspective piano reflection. The playful dialogue of Baroque concertizing is transformed here into existential seriousness: a matter of self-assertion and of unyielding subjectivity. Kirill Petrenko programmed this third Beethoven concerto with Daniel Barenboim as the soloist. His playing is characterised by a profound understanding of the score, a concentrated kind of music making that always remains open for the orchestra’s developments.


Dear Glenn – Can Yamaha Bring Gould’s Genius Back to Life?

Yamaha’s ongoing project to develop a piano playing Artificial Intelligence system has been dubbed “Dear Glenn”, as a tribute to Glenn Gould. The project is “inspired by his unique creative style and launched to explore the future of music through the use of artificial intelligence.”

The famous Canadian pianist announced the end of his concert career at age 31 and began to concentrate on studio recording, broadcasting, and writing about music. The recordings from his later years, including his legendary 1981 Goldberg Variations, were recorded on Yamaha pianos. With the support of the Glenn Gould Foundation, Yamaha has now analyzed over 100 hours of Gould’s performance recordings to develop an understanding of his playing style, and turn his interpretations into music performance data. Here is a short documentary about Yamaha’s effort to bring Glenn Gould’s musical genius back to life:

Unique performances “in the style of Glenn Gould”

Rather than just reproducing Gould’s performances, the project’s aim has been to train a mapping between the music score and the performance data, so that the AI ends up being able to generate performance data to any music score. In other words, when the AI plays the aria of the Goldberg variations, it’s a new interpretation, supposedly “in the style of Glenn Gould”. In addition to Gould’s audio recordings, AI learning data included human input in the form of performances by pianists who were admirers of Gould and intimately familiar with his performance style.

Training of the AI in three steps:

The system is also able to interact and synchronize with fellow human musicians. This capability is achieved by controlling the playback based on an analysis of the sound and the motion generated by the human partner.

Would Glenn be horrified?

The pianist Bruce Brubaker, one of the projects advisors, says that many things remain to be done, but that “in its best moments, the project offers the sense that the playing we hear is expressive and does have a very strong connection to some sort of humanity rather than feeling machine-like”.

Of course, the inevitable question is what Gould himself would say about this. “It’s possible that on one hand he might be horrified, but then on the other I think he would be really thrilled — probably a little of both”, says Brubeker. What fascinates him about the Glenn Gould project is really not the project itself, but how much it tells us about what the future may hold: “AI can be used to capture the artistic personality and ethos of a human player.”

Doubtless, this project raises a lot of questions. Watch the extract from a concert featuring the “Dear Glenn” AI system and form your own opinion. How far have Yamaha got towards capturing Glenn Gould’s “artistic personality”? What do you think the future may hold in terms of human vs. AI music performance?

Feel free to post your comments below!


A Jazz Piano Christmas 2019

NPR’s traditional season’s celebration ”A Piano Jazz Christmas”, was recorded live from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and offers a joyful mix of musical Christmas glitter from both the East and the West Coast of the United States.

This year’s pianistic line-up features Joshua White from Southern California, known for combining the passion of a young man’s discovery of jazz with an intellectual side, San Francisco based Rebeca MauleĂłn, who also anchors a thriving Afro-Caribbean music and jazz scene in the Bay Area, George Cables, who can be heard on so many classics over the decades and is also known as Elder Statesman of the West Coast jazz scene and Mark G. Meadows, who represent the East Coast; a jazz talent who also teaches and acts.

More information at NPR >>


Resonance Piano – Recreating Piano Sound

We are living in times when acoustical and digital soundworlds merge in a multiplicity of ways. This year’s Cremona Musica exhibition offered a chance to experience some of the latest innovations in piano sound.

The 98 kilograms Resonance Piano is not an instrument in the traditional sense, but a grand piano designed soundboard functioning as a digital piano’s ”amplifier”. Its creators, the Italian company Ciresa, have played an important role as manufacturers of loudspeakers and piano soundboards since the 1970s – their clients include giants like Bechstein, BlĂĽthner, Förster, and Fazioli. The company aims to optimize the digital sound experience by enhancing the sound spectrum by means of natural materials.

Resonance Piano actually consists of two suspended soundboards, one for the whole frequency range and the other for the mid-bass. These, along with the necessary electronics, come in a grand piano-shaped case with legs. The output of the digital piano is plugged into Resonance Piano and fed to transducers positioned across the soundboard, which then transmits the sound from across its entire surface, as opposed to a loudspeaker, which projects the sound from a single point.

Nord Piano 4 connected to Resonance Piano

The idea of merging a digital signal with natural soundboard amplification is not new and can be found in Yamaha TransAcoustic, Kawai Aures, and Steingraeber Transducer Grands. Resonance Piano, which sells for 15 000 euros, allows you to use the digital instrument of your choice.

Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell met with CEO and inventor Fabio Ognibeni for a short interview.

Resonance Piano Interview Ognibeni Jovell

Piano Street: When reading about Resonance Piano we were surprised by the fact that this is an instrument without strings, yet in a Grand Piano design. How did you come up with the idea?

Fabio Ognibeni: Well, it comes from the fact that I have been talking and discussing with piano builders for thirty years. Working with producers of pianos, harps, and violins, we could discuss sound in all these fields and gather information and experiences. We understood that in whichever instrument we produced, we had to target the wood creating the best sound frequency in each kind of instrument.

PS: You also manufacture loudspeakers and
I had the joy hearing Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto from a CD on your device an hour ago – the sound was marvelous! How do you measure a digital sound source to be placed in a natural material? Is it possible to anticipate that in your soundboard construction?

FO: Each soundboard is designed to create the best possible acoustic sound. Even if you exchange digital instruments (sound source), the sound is quite the same. Of course it cannot be 100% exactly the same because the soundboard is a natural element, but all the soundboards are designed to produce the best acoustic sound possible, regardless of which digital instrumental source.

PS: Yes, the soundboard enhances the sound so to speak. In the ”normal” world we go from a vibration to a tone. With a digital sound it is not a vibrating tone, is it?

FO: In digital pianos, the speakers vibrate – but we should remember that traditional speaker membranes are made of polyamide which is not a natural element. In origin, the sound is born in the tone of wood, not in plastic. My system offers the piano a way of reproducing and returning back the original sound through the natural wooden soundboard.

PS: I understand you use very special wood?

FO: Yes, the wood comes from Femme Valley – it’s the best in the world! Stradivari and Guarneri used the same wood. We also use it for our loudspeakers, and it’s used for harpsichords, harps, and violin instruments as well.

PS: How many instruments do you manufacture?

FO: We produce 3600 traditional soundboards every year. Resonance Piano is new and we have so far made only 8 of this model.

PS: Which kind of customers are you focusing on?

FO: I think the medium level pianist, schools and the pop/jazz pianist also. This system is very quick and easy to transport. The piano manufacturing industry is a world of very conservative thinking. Yesterday we had a renowned international performer here who found this instrument good for young people, but I think it’s still too early to satisfy high-level performers.

Read more at resonancepiano.com


The Piano Experience Fest

Now an established and important annual event, Cremona Musica once again opened its doors and welcomed a huge number of visitors to experience an extraordinary 180 events program of concerts, lectures, manufacturers exhibits, round-table discussions along with lovely touristic venues in beautiful Cremona – city of violins.

The rich mix of the program offers something for everybody and gives the chance for hobbyists to meet with professionals as well as the market to meet with their customers and inspiration-seekers.
Piano Experience was created and developed in response to instrument makers, distributors, buyers and musicians, as a meeting point to exchange ideas and thus develop new business and forums for discussion and development. It is now the only exhibition in Europe dedicated to pianos and keyboards. Visitors have a chance to try out a vast selection of high quality instruments, and in cooperation with the exhibitors a large number of musical performances are offered with Italian and international artists. International performing artists this year were among others; Maurizio Baglini, Eliane Reyes, Inna Faliks, Ivan Krpan, Ramin Bahrami, Roland Pöntinen, Jed Distler, Konstantin Scherbakov and Ingolf Wunder.

The Media Lounge of Cremona Musica: a one-of-a-kind event

In 2019, as during the last editions, Cremona Musica is hosting not only the most important international artists and producers of musical instruments, but also the best of music dissemination.
The International Media Lounge hosted 31 Italian and foreign journalists, representing both specialized and general outlets. These journalists, writers, disseminators, covering Cremona Musica, guarantees an internerational media coverage for artists and exhibitors, and will also be protagonists of two round-tables, to talk about the future of music. The topic of the first session was: the relation between music and social media and the second: about classical music in video. The participating journalists discussed the various ways in which classical music can be presented through video, and shared examples of projects carried out by their respective newspapers or channels, or proposing new ideas on the subject.

Konstantin Scherbakov

Stay tuned for more reports from Cremona. Interviews will follow with, among others, Konstantin Scherbakov, about his Beethoven 250 — Ingolf Wunder, and his pedagogical Internet project APPASSIO.com, Roberto Prosseda and Alessandra Ammara’s new Mendelssohn CD release, Jed Distler on his Thelonious Monk project and CD and Ramin Bahrami on Bach. We will also publish an interview with the innovator of RESONANCE PIANO, a piano without strings.


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