Saturday, February 24, 2018

New CD from pianist Pandolfi offers an unusual Mozart sonata

At a concert in Alexandria, VA on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, I did hear pianist Thomas Pandolfi perform Mark Wilson’s Piano Concerto, but today I wanted to do a brief write up on his CD “The Space Between”, “Thomas Pandolfi’s Germanic Repertoire”.

The CD starts with Beethoven’s Pathetique Piano Sonata #8 in C Minor, which I have covered here before.  I’ve always perceived this as a particularly laconic work compared the Beethoven’s later works in this key.
There follows a miniature by Robert Schumann, the Romance in D#, Op. 28, #2, and then the Impromptu #4 in A-flat, Op. 90, by France Schubert.  This one is very well known (it was in the Sherwood Music course when I took piano) and it starts out with a long section of arpeggios in A-flat minor, with the C-flat (enharmonic to B natural) entered manually.  Imagine G# Major later!  The circle of key signatures was so easy to learn.
The most interesting work on the disc is the Piano Sonata #4 in E-flat by Mozart, K. K282, which starts with a slow movement (the only one besides the Turkish as far as I can remember).  As shown on line the Sonata is unusual in ending softly.
He then plays the Impromptu #2 in A-flat of Schubert, Op. 142 (opus numbers not in sequence). Then he gives us a Brahms Waltz in A-flat, Op. 39, #15, and concludes with a “Dedication” by Robert Schumann, as transcribed by Franz Liszt. It sounds familiar and fits Pandolfi’s somewhat exhibitionistic style.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Korean folk song "Arirang" at Winter Olympics

A particular Korean folk song called “Arirnag” is getting attention at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics.

Andrew Keh in the New York Times calls it “A Ubiquitous Tunethat United Koreans” (Friday, February 23, 2018, p. B9). 

It is a slow melody in triple time, sung in unison with high female voices.

Does this music have political significance in North Korea really thinks it can force unification on its terms (maybe without nuclear weapons)? But that sounds like expropriation.
Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. image of Stadium, from Pence’s visit.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Brahms Handel Variations and Fugue, an old favorite of mine

The Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Op. 24, by Johannes Brahms, was one of my favorite piano compositions when I was a teen.  Could I really play it? 

The work is known for its very formal structure, with its observation of repeats. Wikipedia offers one of the largest and detailed formal analytic writeups of the work for anything in piano literature, with the full score. The entire score will display on a Google search!  This is an example of “orchestral” piano writing.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Humpback whales compose music!

Jackie Lay (and producer Ed Young) demonstrated in a short video on Vox how humpback whales can compose music, here .

Musical elements merge into phrases and themes, just as in human music.

In the late 60s, scientists started tracing evolution of whale music mixes around Australia.

The video also shows some primate culture.

It's pretty obvious you can make a video about bird songs. But the whales seem capable of collective or collaborative composition. 

Wikipedia attribution link, photo by Wwelles, CCSA 3.0 
Whale watching songs link

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Reger's overwhelming piano variations and fugue on Bach

Schiff plays the 34-minute work, “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach”, Op. 81, by Max Reger.

The original melody is Bach’s Cantata #128, “Auf Christi Himmelfahrt Allein”.

The music is somewhat like Brahms’s big piano variation works, but here the scale is extraordinary.
 At the end the piano strives to mimic an entire orchestra.  Reger sometimes ventured into extreme chromaticism, but the entire work is in B minor with triumphant B Major close.