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International Piano – Jan/Feb 2019

A new issue of the magazine International Piano is out!

Andalusian pianist Javier Perianes strikes the perfect balance between sweetness and objectivity as he prepares to tour Beethoven’s concertos; Alfred Cortot’s shocking wartime record as a ruthless cultural arbiter for the Nazi regime; Burkard Schliessmann explores Schumann’s dual nature; and the unique legacy of eccentric Soviet pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus.

Plus, Israeli pianist and painter Roman Rabinovich introduces his new album of Haydn sonatas; Poland’s new competition for Chopin on historic instruments; achieving tonal variety through judicious pedalling; Italy’s leading international exhibition for musical instruments; Leeds winner Eric Lu; practical courses for pianophiles; spiritual seeker and jazz pioneer Alice Coltrane; Jerome Rose recalls his influences as a ‘grand-pupil’ of Artur Schnabel and protégé of Rudolf Serkin; guitar masterpieces for the piano; and sheet music to Amy Beach’s ‘Cradle Song of the Lonely Mother’.

Piano Street Gold members have instant online access to the digital version of the magazine.
For print subscription, visit rhinegold.co.uk


Gould’s $100.000 Holy Grail

A rare item that belonged to Glenn Gould has sold at auction in New York on December 5th for $100,000 US. The score of Bach’s Goldberg Variations contains the Canadian pianist’s detailed markings used while making his iconic 1981 recording of the piece.

Gould’s extensive autograph contains notes and annotations on a C.F. Peters printed score, and was used during his historic 1981 recording and film of his (second) interpretation of the Goldberg Variations– black flair pen, with orange crayon, lacking wrappers, some soiling, stray pen marks with tearing at the staples. “There’s no romantic or pictorial stuff. It’s really all about how to assemble tapes, microphones, and cameras… It’s almost like a shooting script for a film.” says Tim Page, a music critic and Glenn Gould scholar, who knew Gould personally.

The 1981 recording was his last studio album, which earned him a posthumous Grammy Award in 1983, a year after his death at just 50. Since then, he has become the most famous, and controversial, interpreter of Bach’s iconic work.
By 1964 he had given up concertizing in favor of making records. Excessively involved in the production of his recordings he conducted his takes, constantly adjusting sound levels chasing the quality of the live moment.

We all know Glenn Gould as one of the most original musicians and personalities of the 20th century. He was known and criticized for the technical manipulations of his recordings and in this area he can be regarded as a pioneer. He foresaw innovations we now take for granted in the field of global sonic transmission for example. Technical manipulation was something he frequently did also as a radio broadcaster. Few know Gould the radio and documentary broadcaster and producer, where he would interview interesting personalities both musical and otherwise on a variety of subjects. By combining cuts he used technology as a creative tool, to help create what he could not otherwise achieve. We can call it artistic expansion or maybe a wish to transcend the boundaries of reality. As a broadcaster and recording artist his interest in technology might well have reflected his need to explore his own ideas about spirituality, with and without music.

Read more:



The Brain’s Piano Spot Discovered

Brain mapping has come far in the world and we can read a lot about recent research in this area. Scientists have for instance been able to map the mutual brain connections utilized in language development and musical training. A newly-charted region in the human brain, which so far has not been seen in other animals, may be responsible for extremely fine motor control such as our unique ability to play piano.

Professor George Paxinos of Neuro Research Australia (NeuRA) said the discovery of a previously unknown part of the brain was ”starting me in the face for 30 years”. The size of a pea, the area is embedded in a major neural connection that links the spinal cord and the brain and is strongly linked to the control of our limbs. Paxinos spent more than forty years hand-drawing extraordinarily detailed maps of the human brain with the aid of a 4B (very soft) pencil. Human brains resemble monkey brains but they are bigger.

When Paxinos was searching for this new region in other animals, he just wasn’t able to find it. Thus, it seems to be a unique human part of the brain related to movement control. ”Monkeys, you don’t see them playing pianos, do you?” Paxinos joked. As one of Australia’s most important scientists, his atlases of the brain are among the most renown publications in neuroscience and are used in surgery for example.

So, how is brain mapping done? When starting a new atlas, a sample brain is cut horizontally into about 200 ultra-thin slices. These are photographed in extremely high resolution, and expanded to 100 x 100 centimeter prints before being placed on tables around a hall-size space.


Build a LEGO Piano to Learn Basic Piano Mechanics!

The Concert Grand Piano, one of the most complex instruments of all time, is now in Lego form. Built entirely from 2798 authentic LEGO bricks, it accurately captures the mechanical details of a real piano.

While it doesn’t actually play piano music, this 2,798-piece miniature LEGO model of a concert grand piano does have 25 independently working keys, a removable keyboard, and a height-adjustable bench. It also has a working damper and pedal, a self-playing mode, a working piano lid, and more.

LEGO master SleepyCow engineered it to contribute to LEGO Ideas in the hopes that it will be voted in to be mass produced as a retail kit. He explains the reason for building it:
“Ever since I started learning music, I have always wanted to build a piano out of LEGO bricks. I have also been asked many times by my students about the inner-workings of a piano. I think this will be a great set to teach students about piano mechanics. I’ve seen many people do it in different ways, but I decided to make my own version, as well as try to make it as similar to a real piano as possible with correct proportions.”


Yuja Wang Played with Left Hand in Versailles to Commemorate Peace

The First World War showed no mercy to artists and many died or returned injured. The Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm on the battlefield and Maurice Ravel composed the “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” for him. The piece was performed by Yuja Wang in a recent concert in Versailles, in which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra commemorated the 100th anniversary of the “Treaty of Versailles” and the end of the Great War.

The world famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War with a symbolic “Concert for Peace” during a memorable performance at the Royal Opera House at the Palace of Versailles.

“The way he has written it, it’s like he’s had three hands or four hands in his head I mean there’s a top melody and then, this in the middle, and it’s like the most beautiful harmonies there and so much intricacies and the instrumentation, he’s using, the colours he’s creating. And you know it has a groovy, wild side.
I think I just enjoy this kind of mysterious power inside, coming from you know like three motives and he is just constantly transforming them… and this power is probably coming from all the catastrophe from the end of the war. And I like that dark power,”
Wang said.

Hear an excerpt from the piano concerto played by Yuja Wang in a DG recording session back in 2015:


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