Dinu Lipatti was born in 1917 and died too early at age 33 after a seven year struggle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mark Ainley writes about the Prince of Pianists.
Lipatti’s pianism is remarkable in how it expresses profound truth with utter simplicity, and is characterized by the crystalline clarity with which both structure and character are revealed. His interpretations go beyond the limited framework of the piano with his flawless command of pianistic technique – not simply digital accuracy but purity of tone regardless of the dynamics (his range was enormous), crisp precision of articulation, accenting without distortion of the melodic line, steadiness of rhythmic pulse, clarity of texture in voicing, and subtlety and timing of pedaling. That melodic lines are so deftly sculpted and presented in such stark relief is due to his ability to vary the attack used by different fingers, even within the same hand. The voicing of all lines is thus thoroughly consistent, and inner voices do not distract from the main subject; each line becomes an individual voice with its own unique timbre, together forming a choir of interdependent entities, each weaving its pattern in a tapestry of exquisite complexity.
His playing is immaculate – the balance, timing, and significance of every phrase, nuance, and harmonic progression has been considered and mastered, yet his performances exhibit warmth and passion and are free of the air of academic over-analysis. He presents each work under his fingers with such disarming simplicity that the music seems to be speaking freely through him, as though he were a receiver through which the composer’s intended message (of which the text is but a shadow) were being transmitted from the source of its inspiration – hence one French critic’s comment that he “heard Chopin himself interpreting his Sonata in B minor”. This does not mean that he was a literalist, however, and examples abound of changes he made to the text. He spoke, however, of the greater importance of the “Ur-spirit” as opposed to the Urtext, often telling his students that “if you are well brought-up, you can put your feet on the table and not offend anyone.”
Just came across this tidbit over on AOL
If only piano teachers could have showed Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’ video before every lesson — probably more of us would have practiced.
I think I’d have to agree. Last Sunday I heard Mika in concert at the Electric Factory Outlet in Philadelphia. His infectious enthusiasm and catchy pop melodies had the whole audience, young and old, dancing and singing even though his lyrics tend to the darker side as August Brown notes in this LA Times post. (I sat down at the piano for a few minutes today and played some Mika tunes before moving right on to a couple of Chopin Mazurkas…they seemed to go together for some reason.)
Mika (Michael Holbrook Penniman) was born in Lebanon, moved to Paris at age one, and was homeshooled until age 11. He attended the Royal College of Music in London before leaving to record his first album. Wish I could have been a fly-on-the-wall at his piano lessons…
The other day I received a link to this video from Natalie. Lo‘s assistant. In addition to the Chopin performance, Lola encourages listeners to support arts organizations and initiatives in their communities. Derrick Robinson has a terrific interview with Ms. Astanova where she talks about how the digital generation is keeping the world of classical music alive and well on the Internet.
Another “YouTube revelation” actually relates to the “Holy Grail” of the classical music industry – the young audience. For years classical presenters have been trying to lure the younger crowd into concert halls and evidently without much success. Yet, over half of my online viewers are people in their teens, twenties and thirties. I receive daily emails from teenagers who say that they are inspired, and who subscribe to my channel along with Taylor Swift’s or Kanye’s. These are guys and girls of very diverse backgrounds, but they all seem to have a sort of innate appreciation for this music. And many grasp the significance of the arts much more than the classical establishment knows. For example, my video about the arts in this economy has been passionately supported by countless young YouTubers, including such Internet stars as Ryan Higa and Iman Crosson, while traditional classical organizations have remained completely indifferent if not hostile.
Read the entire interview here.
Another example of effortless technique. Like Horowitz, the hands are close to the keys, fingers almost flat. This is Kemal Gekich, the Croation pianist from the coastal town of Split (on my list of places to visit!). He caused a stir in the 1985 Chopin Competition, followed up with performances in Europe, USSR and Japan, then went into seclusion in 1990 for further study.
The ‘first fruits’ of this retreat was the landmark recording of the complete Liszt Transcendental Etudes, generally considered as the best recording of the set ever made. Shortly to follow were the Naxos recording of Liszt-Rossini transcriptions (including the William Tell Overture) which won the “Rosette” Prize from the Penguin Guide to Music, and live recordings from Yugoslavia (VAI), Montreal (Palexa)…In 1999 he was invited to perform at the Miami International Piano Festival. Minutes before he was to walk on stage, a chance glance at a television showed houses burning in his hometown of Novi Sad. It was March 24th; the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia had begun. Instead of canceling, he went out on stage and played what many consider to be the best recital he ever gave, one that launched his current re-emergence as one of the major pianists of our century. (more)
Horowitz plays Liszt Consolation #3 (D flat) so comfortably. His fingers are always in contact with the keys. He uses no extra movements of the arm, body, or hands. (And I love how he puts his left hand on his hip at the end.)
From an interview with Horowitz in Etude Magazine (March 1932) via Kevin Purrone:
“The finger must have a consciousness of the movement which makes the singing melody.”
The Bowed Piano Ensemble at Colorado College performs Entrada by Stephen Scott who talks about how he was influenced by the early minimalists, Reilly and Reich, in this interview by David Varela.
Ryan Raul Bañagale blogs about his experience performing with the Scott’s Bowed Piano Ensemble.
As you can gather from watching the above video of “Entrada,” the ensemble gets its name from the method in which most of the sounds are produced. Namely, bows. Two types are used: soft (long, fishing-line or ribbon bows strung between the 88 individual strings of the piano) and hard (short, popsicle-stick brushes inserted and removed at various points as needed). Sounds are also produced by more “traditional” means: picks, mallets, mutes, detached piano hammers, strumming, etc.
Close your eyes and you would never guess you are only listening to one instrument!