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Documentary: In the Footsteps of Debussy

As writer John Terauds puts it; ”… with the varying styles of Impressionist paintings, the long view represents something defined, but the closer you get, the more his compositions start to fall apart into the individual components that our minds work imperceptibly to piece together into meaningful shapes.”

March 25 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of one of Western music’s revolutionaries whose enormous influence we nowadays tend to take for granted. For the centenary occasion Warner Classics has contributed to both a distant and a close look at Claude Debussy. Their 33-disc set aims to include everything Debussy wrote, from his earliest compositions of 1879-80 to the late sonatas composed during the first world war. The compilation also contains his own transcriptions and arrangements of his music made by contemporaries during his lifetime. The vast material is presented chronologically within each genre and also includes minor pieces recorded for the first time. As a historical appendix, one disc contains Debussy’s own performances from piano rolls probably made in 1913. Here we find some Préludes and the Children’s Corner suite, and with singer Mary Garden in the Verlaine settings of Ariettes Oubliées and from his opera Pelléas et Mélisande.

As a part of the project Warner Classics has produced a three-part documentary series named ”In the Footsteps of Debussy”. The series was filmed at the composer’s birthplace Maison Claude Debussy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris and features contributions from noted Debussy scholars and performers.

In the Footsteps of Debussy – Part 1
In the Footsteps of Debussy – Part 2
In the Footsteps of Debussy – Part 3


Hear Debussy play Debussy in the bonus material of the 33-disc compilation “Claude Debussy: The Complete Works”

NEW! Click the album cover to listen to the complete album:
Debussy - Disc 33: Bonus material
(This is a new feature available for Gold members of pianostreet.com)

/nilsjohan
 
     

5 Minutes on Franz Liszt’s Funérailles

Pianist Daniel Barenboim, now celebrating 75 years, has published a series of short videos titled “5 minutes on…” in which he discusses well-known piano pieces. In this episode he talks about Franz Liszt’s Funérailles from the piano cycle Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses.

Barenboim talks about FunéraillesLiszt built his monumental and transcendental technique on the back of Czerny’s 1,100 etudes, which, as his teacher, Czerny forced him to memorize and play incessantly. Liszt translated that incredible power to the piano. Armed with such technique, he was free to explore new directions in both composition and performance. There was, literally, nothing he couldn’t play. Because he was so gifted, he was able to break new ground by playing recitals of other composers’ music, which was unusual during the early and middle 19th century.

Piano score to download and print:

Read more about Franz Liszt


/nilsjohan
 
     

Ode to Joy at the Proms 2017

Hear Igor Levit’s encore at First Night of the Proms 2017. Liszt’s piano solo version of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Beethoven theme transcribed by Liszt

Piano score to download and print:
Extract, page 45-47: Beethoven/Liszt – Theme from Symphony 9

The 9 Symphonies Transcribed by Liszt

For those interested in Liszt’s transcriptions of all nine Beethoven symphonies might also find thrill in the 19th century practices on ways to experience orchestral music without attending a symphony concert, years before the invention of recordings and piano rolls. With this in mind inspiring recordings of the Liszt versions of the symphonies have been spotted utilizing a variety of historical keyboards and performance styles. Liszt had produced a superb two-piano transcription of the Ninth, a work he often conducted. Despite his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel’s appeals, Liszt maintained that distilling the universe of Beethoven’s last symphony for one player at one instrument was impossible. In 1865 however, living in seclusion at a monastery on the Monte Mario, Liszt wrote a translation of the symphony medium to solo piano with immense craft and inspiration. The opening of the finale to the ‘Ode to Joy’ is stunningly affecting. But it is a stint preparation for the combination of rhythm, colour, pacing and unyielding musical will, describing the sublime exaltation of Beethoven’s incitement.

“Of the major Romantics, Liszt alone had a personal connection with Beethoven. A case could be made that this first-hand association would prove to be the defining event of his life. Even in old age, he continued to refer to Beethoven as his great ideal, the lodestar of his artistic universe. Liszt’s advocacy of Beethoven’s music, at a time when many of his contemporaries were either unfamiliar with or baffled by the late-period works, is a matter of historical record.
Before the earliest attempts at sound reproduction, Liszt drew on every means at his disposal to create an accurate replica, a facsimile, of works he recognised as uniquely powerful, in order that others might better know and understand an artistic legacy he loved and valued above all.”
— Patrick Rucker, Gramophone

Hear full recordings of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony transcribed by Liszt:

NEW! Click the album covers to listen to the complete albums:

(This is a new feature available for Gold members of pianostreet.com)

Read more in Piano Forum:
Have you heard the Beethoven / Liszt Symphonies (Transcriptions)
Beethoven Symphonies – Which one would you play?


/nilsjohan
 
     

Garrick Ohlsson live in Fort Worth

Since his triumph at the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition (the only American winner ever), pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, the Grammy Award-winner commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature.

In this season-closing concert of the Cliburn Live series in Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, Ohlsson performs works by Beethoven, Schubert, and Chopin. Thanks to the closely positioned microphones and sparse artificial reverb (if any), we get to hear the sound balance similar to what a top concert pianist hears from the piano chair when playing a Steinway D in a large hall.

PROGRAM
Beethoven: Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, op. 110
Schubert: Fantasy in C Major, D. 760 (“Der Wanderer”)
Chopin: Scherzo No. 4 in E Major, op. 54
Chopin: Etude in E Minor, op. 25, no. 5
Chopin: Etude in G-sharp Minor, op. 25, no. 6
Chopin: Nocturne in C Minor, op. 48, no. 1
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, op. 23

In an interview from 2012 (examiner.com) Garrick Ohlsson explains one aspect of his continuous interest in exploring the richness of the whole piano repertoire:

“The heroism of the Liszt Sonata or of the Appassionata is really not of real life. It’s the same thing as great Shakespeare, with these violent tragedies, and really, all art in all cultures. It tells us about ourselves. When I’m playing Beethoven, or Liszt, or whomever, I get in touch with heroism, with sublimity, a demonism or a tenderness, that I have some idea about. It’s like an actor having to do a great role. You might discover that some of those qualities are in you a little bit.
That’s the affinity, that’s what you have a feeling for. And I think that’s the greatest privilege for it. For me, the function of Art is to bring me in touch with that greater world. Great writers do it, great film makers can do it, etc. I mean, I like great music because it’s better than real life (laughs) – although real life is just fine, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a distillation, a sublimity or a happiness, a pleasure or a great sadness. It distills the essence.”


Over a four-year period, CLIBURN LIVE webcasts over 250 performances live and on demand to the world—all three competitions (Amateur in June 2016, Cliburn in May/June 2017, and Junior in June 2019) and select Cliburn Concerts by some of the world’s top performing musicians (2-3 annually).

“The Cliburn’s mission is to share classical music with the widest audience possible,” said Jacques Marquis, president and CEO. “The viewership of the competition webcasts has grown exponentially every four years and is an extremely valuable tool to fulfilling that mandate. We have an expertise in broadcasting live concerts online and are presenting the finest artists annually in Fort Worth. It’s a natural extension to showcase Cliburn Concerts internationally as well—and a way to bring people from across the world to the Cliburn much more often.”


/nilsjohan
 
     

Schiff Horses Around in Master Class

In a piano masterclass on Schubert’s Moments Musical at The International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, Andras Schiff noted, for one of his students, that, in Schubert’s time, horse-drawn conveyances were the norm instead of just a tourist attraction.


/patrick
 
     



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