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Piano Street's Classical Piano News

- your guide to the classical piano world.
LIVE STREAM: Daniil Trifonov in Berlin

Daniil Trifonov, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Artist in Residence this season, plays a sold-out solo recital in the Philharmonie on February 21. As one of today’s most in-demand classical virtuosos, known to always capture the true spirit of music no matter which repertoire he touches, he will perform some of the less often played cornerstones of the piano repertoire. The recital will be live streamed in Digital Concert Hall.

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 pianist Daniil Trifonov on Thursday 21 February 2019 and to access all concerts in the archive for 48 hours!

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“He has everything and more, there is tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” — Martha Argerich

LIVESTREAM: Thursday 21 February 2019, 19.00 (UTC/GMT)
Program:
Beethoven: Andante favori in F major, WoO 57
Beethoven: Piano Sonata op. 31 No. 3
Schumann: Bunte Blätter, op. 99
Schumann: Presto Passionato *
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 8, op. 84

(* First Version of the finale from the Piano Sonata Nr. 2, op. 22)

In 2011, he was awarded first prize at the Arthur Rubinstein Competition, and in the same year he won a gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition; Deutsche Grammophon immediately added the recording of his first appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York to its series of artistically outstanding recordings in 2013, and following his German debut three months later – which is said to have taken the breath away of none other than Alfred Brendel – a critic of the Süddeutsche Zeitung was convinced that he had experienced “one of the most successful and incredible piano talents of recent decades”. Daniil Trifonov, born in 1991, is undoubtedly one of the most astounding pianists of his generation – and perhaps already one of the best in the 21st century.

Following his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which he made in 2016 with Sergei Rachmaninov’s breakneck Third Piano Concerto, and other concerts as part of which he performed piano concertos by Schumann among others, Trifonov is the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Artist in Residence this season. In this role, he will appear as a soloist in concerts with the orchestra, as a lieder accompanist and chamber music partner, and as a mentor and musical dialogue partner of the Karajan Academy. However, Trifonov’s most personal pianistic calling card is this recital, which shows off all the facets of his technical and interpretive mastery: with works by Beethoven, Schumann and Prokofiev he takes a journey through those 150 years in which piano music enjoyed its heyday.


/nilsjohan

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Claire Huangci’s Complete Perspective: The Rachmaninoff Preludes

Pianist Claire Huangci, winner of the Geza Anda Competition 2018, just played in New York celebrating the launch of her new Rachmaninoff Preludes album on Berlin Classics. Like her complete Chopin Nocturnes album before that – for the same label – the complete Rachmaninoff 24 Preludes has been received with great acclaim internationally. Piano Street asked the ever touring pianist a few questions about her latest release.

Patrick Jovell: Claire, is it a coincidence that you manage to get such overwhelming response on two albums containing complete works in a compositional genre by two immensely popular piano composers? The Chopin Nocturnes ranges from Op. 9 to Op. 72 and the Rachmaninoff’s Preludes Op. 3 to 32. The musical life span you have to grasp as an interpreter must be enormous and very challenging?

Claire Huangci: That’s exactly the reason I record these great ‘cycles’ of works. For me, deciding on what to record is completely different from deciding on a concert program. I really want to be able to tell a story, give a detailed impression on my take of a composer or a particular theme and the best way to do that is follow their compositional evolution through a specific genre. It is a challenge but I find it immensely rewarding!

PJ: Can you tell us about the preparation process for the Rachmaninoff Preludes recording? What happens during such a journey?

CH: It’s basically immersion therapy; in the weeks-months prior to the recording, i found myself listening to Rachmaninoff constantly-all but the preludes. I was glad to discover motifs from his concertos, symphonies, hidden away in the preludes. It was about understanding his compositions on a grander scale, seeing how his style evolved. Something else I always do is try to understand the life of a composer and in this case, I found a great book, called Rachmaninoff’s recollections told to Oskar von Riemann. This is basically an autobiography and it showed me a new side of Rachmaninoff as a person that would greatly influence all my future interpretations. From the purely technical side, playing the preludes takes immense stamina; playing them at least once through each day was a challenge in itself. After the recording, I couldn’t feel my arms for a week (laughs).

PJ: Many know you as a creative and versatile Chopin player and you are used to different concert assignments everywhere you go, but we all know that Rachmaninoff had very big hands. How do you deal with this technical reality in his music?

CH: This was a particularly difficult challenge… Rachmaninoff’s span was almost twice mine! But he was also a very pianistic composer and his music allows room for a lot of flexibility in terms of sharing things between the hands, re-aligning and rolling larger chords. I had to really get creative to ensure that I played all the notes!

PJ: So, in your opinion, which are the fundamental differences between Op. 23 and Op. 32?

CH: I believe that the two sets of preludes express the best of Rachmaninoff’s compositional styles. While op. 23 is a ‘hit parade’ with lush melodies and swooning harmonic changes, op. 32 is full of daring experimentation. Rachmaninoff began to make first steps into ‘modernizing’ his music as well as making forays in the baroque direction and with Sicilian rhythms. Both sets are unique and together, they show just how versatile a composer Rachmaninoff was.

Free Piano Score to Download and Print:

PJ: Rachmaninoff’s audiences called him ”C-sharp minor” and his farewell composition before leaving Russia was a prelude in D minor (not published until 1973). His contemporaries wrote preludes everywhere – and not only in sets of 24. What makes this musical form so attractive for composers in this era?

CH: The Prelude is a mysterious form, there’s no clear reference for what is a prelude exactly. I think this freedom is what appealed to composers. The idea of documenting a certain mood or atmosphere in a short form, is certainly easier and perhaps even more spontaneous and personal than other forms. When one writes a diary entry, it can be a sentence, or a thought that stimulates. Sometimes, brevity is beauty!

PJ: Like many a noteworthy pianist you were trained at Curtis Institute and with the great Gary Graffman. After that you went to Hannover. How has this ”German connection” affected you as a pianist and musician?

CH: For me, once I moved to Germany, I discovered my own personal voice in music. A lot of this has to do with being independent, moving to a place on your own and forming your own circle of friends. I found that this new and sudden freedom also spurred me on to reveal new musical interests and curiosity in many other genres in addition to just piano music. Living in a country where there is such a rich history of composers and having the chance to visit cities where they lived really changed my perspective. I went from being the ultimate lover of piano transcriptions and other virtuosic masterpieces to favoring Schubert, Bach and Mozart more than any other. This change came through living in Germany; finding my own peace with pace. I’m still living mostly in Germany today, between Hannover and Philadelphia and can’t ask for a better mix of the best of both worlds.

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Read more about the recording:
clairehuangci.com/en/in-the-studio-with-rachmaninov/


/patrick

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Digital Piano? Oh No – 100% Analogue!

What happens when innovative acoustical ideas come across a vintage broken piano? Well, Ukrainian musicians transformed it into a unique and completely analog hybrid of 20 different instruments that are each connected and controlled by the piano keys.

The musicians in the band Brunettes Shoot Blondes came up with an idea of making a true analog construction which could play different instruments nested inside the rim just by playing. When pressing a key, the piano hammers beat a marimba, tambourine, cymbals or even castanets. There are also special mechanical devices which allow playing of cello, violins and organ.

Read more at designboom.com

Details about the construction: www.thomann.de/blog/en/bsb-houston/


/patrick

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Igor Levit’s Eternal Transcendence: “Life”

Igor Levit’s acclaimed album “Life” has attracted a lot of attention and its selected works have also been included in Levit’s recent recital programs worldwide. This is a profound, versatile and firm reaction to the death and loss of his best friend reflecting inner calm elaborating on an existential level.

Bach/Brahms: Chaconne in d minor, piano score

The double CD album was recorded during spring 2018 in the famed Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin, well-known for its acoustics, on an excellent new Steinway D. The choice of venue rhymes well with Levit’s chosen works which are a mix between both the spiritual and the secular. The elaboration on life take different forms but will not offer an answer – rather a human contemplation and search for the eternal. Thus, Levit’s journey of styles and moods offers a wealth of discoveries.

Every piece Igor Levit has chosen travels a spiritual path from the earthly to the hereafter. Each work questions the ultimate realities in its own way. Some picks:

No one can arrange symphonic works like Liszt did and Wagner’s “Solemn March to the Holy Grail” from “Parsifal”, is both intense and sublime – the solemn ritual of the Good Friday Music and magically performed through Levit’s calm and transparent playing. The transcription of the “Liebestod” from the same composer’s “Tristan und Isolde”, suspends time and displays the quietly luminous with extraordinary sound control.

Bach’s church melodies in the hands of omni-genius Busoni turns into a sorrowful “Fantasia”, composed as a memorial to the composer’s father.

A discovery and also a marvelous musical experience is Busoni’s seldom heard Berceuse.

The longest work, and maybe the most adventurous, is Liszt’s colossal “Fantasia and Fugue” on the Chorale “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam”, transcribed by Busoni. A true marvel of masterly piano playing and artistic spirit.

The “Ghost” Variations by Schumann from the very end of his life, leaves us with the last variation speaking of possible consolation.

Brahms’ famous arrangement of Bach’s “Chaconne” for left hand only, entices us to hold on to life in spite of any possible limitations.

Bill Evans, a jazz pianist hero among classical pianists, has a clear alignment to both Debussy and Messiaen. “Peace Piece” was created in 1958 in a recording session. Levit stays true to the repetitious original yet with solemn and strong integrity.

Frederic Rawitzki’s “A Mensch”, composed in 2012, in memory of performance artist Ben Israel and his quote: “To be a mensch! That is the answer”, distills the spiritual essence of this whole album.

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/patrick

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Piano Street’s Top Picks of 2018

We wish you a Happy New Year with a list of highly recommended reading from Piano Street. These are the 12 most read, discussed or shared articles of 2018.

/The Piano Street Team


Yuja Wang Played Ravel 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, 100 years after the “Treaty of Versailles”, in which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.
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Trifonov and Lang Lang Celebrate DG 120 Years in C Minor

“The Yellow Label”, Deutsche Grammophon celebrates its 120th anniversary this year with events all around the globe. Today, November 6, pianist Lang Lang performs Mozart’s C Minor Concerto in a live streamed gala concert in the Berlin Philharmonie.
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The Pleyel Piano: A Key to Genuine Chopin Sound?

Hubert Rutkowski’s new CD is a portrait not only of Chopin, but of the composer’s favourite instrument: Rutkowski plays a Pleyel piano from 1847. In his search for a genuine Chopin/Pleyel sound he has also turned to historical recordings of Raul Koczalski and Moritz Rosenthal, students of Karol Mikuli, who was in turn a student of Chopin himself.
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The Art of Listening – Updated Notes from Berman’s Bench

Since the first edition of Boris Berman’s Notes from the Pianist’s Bench was published in 2000, it has been read by countless pianists, piano teachers, and piano students throughout the world. The book has been translated into several languages and adopted as a required text in universities and conservatories. Just recently, it was published in a second edition, available in both print and electronic formats. Piano Street’s David Wärn met Mr. Berman at the Cremona Musica Piano Experience, to talk about the contents of the book, and about the changes and updates of the new edition.
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Hands-on Piano Experiences in Cremona

Piano Street’s David Wärn was present in Cremona and interviews will follow on pianostreet.com with, among others, Boris Berman — about the new multimedia edition of his Notes from the Pianist’s Bench — and Jura Margulis, about his collaboration with Steingraeber & Söhne, reinventing the sordino pedal and incorporating it into a modern grand piano.
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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.
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Zlata Chochieva: As an artist, you have to be unique

Zlata Chochieva is a unique pianist of the highest calibre. From Salzburg, where she lives and teaches at the Mozarteum, she enchants music-lovers all over the world with her exceptional artistry, combining natural musical expression with outstanding and self-evident technical ability.
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Comfort and Beauty – Rethinking the Piano Bench

Poised with a contemporary air and pure timeless beauty, the creations of piano bench designer and maker Mario Koch were conspicuously present at the Frankfurt Musikmesse 2018. Under the trademark MAKONI visitors were given a chance to indulge in a different world of the piano’s best friend and companion; the piano bench.
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NEW MAGAZINE: The World of Piano Competitions

As a collaborating partner, Piano Street is proud to present the first issue of ”The World of Piano Competitions”, a new magazine initiated by PIANIST Magazine (Netherlands and Germany) and its Editor-in-Chief Eric Schoones. Here we get a rich insight into the world of international piano competitions through the eyes of its producers and participants.
Contributing Editors: Gustav Alink (Alink-Argerich Foundation), Stuart Isacoff, Patrick Jovell (Piano Street), Mario-Felix Vogt, KaJeng Wong. Piano Street is happy to share this first issue with our readers free of charge!
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Paderewski Festival Celebrating Poland’s Past And Present

The annual international music festival celebrating the legacy of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) opened in Warsaw in late October and is now running for almost a month. This year the event also marks the centennial of national independence, which Poland regained after World War I. Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell visited the festival in Warsaw and the Paderewski Birthday Celebration Concert.
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A Debussy 100 Tribute

The great French composer Achille-Claude Debussy died 100 years ago, on March 25 in Paris. Debussy is considered one of the fathers of modern music and the most influential of all French composers. From Debussy’s Suite bergamasque, Clair de lune has emerged as the most beloved and appreciated piece of the suite appreciated by pianists on all levels. From the beautiful interiors of Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, Rome we hear Italian pianist Alessandra Ammara play the piece.
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Destination: Rachmaninov – Departure

Destination: Rachmaninov – Departure, the first installment of a two-part journey, explores Rachmaninov‘s Second and Fourth Piano Concertos. In his seventh title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, Daniil Trifonov reunites with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the leadership of music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Read more >>


/nilsjohan

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