Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Johann Ludwig Krebs: familiar substitute for Bach for organ students

KU, Lawrence, 2006

I started taking organ in the summer of 1965, at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC from an 18-year-old organist (and Peabody student, Baltimore) named Bill Evans.

When I went to graduate school at KU in February 1966 I continued organ for one credit for a year, although I did not pursue it was I should have. 

One of the sets of pieces was a set of preludes and fugues attributed to JS Bach but now thought to be composed by Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780).

Here is the Toccata and Fugue in E Major.  The Toccata certainly challenges the legs.


The performance is on the Massima Gabba channel, where he plays the Mascioni organ, with score. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Concert with Saint-Seans piano concerto accomplished in person with social-distancing

Panorama of Moscow1


19 year old Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev, with the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra conducted by George Pehlivanian, perform the Piano Concerto #2 in G Minor, Op. 22, by Camille Saint-Saens, who was the first French composer to write in the genre. 

He also plays two encores, a Song without Words, “Lilacs”, Op. 21 #5, by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and a transcription of the Pas de Deux from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” by Mikhail Pletnov.  The piano arrangement ends softly;  the orchestral one is bombastic.

The concert is notable because it the first ensemble I have noticed on YouTube where the performers wore (black) masks.  The audience was socially distanced.  At the end, there were elbow knocks, no handshakes, which might be gone forever.  This concert may show a template through which in-person performances by music ensembles can resume as vaccinations ramp up.  The performance occurred Oct 23, 2020, and was posted Jan 19, 2021.  

The Saint-Saens work opens with slow movement, is followed with a scherzo and a presto finale. The format follows that of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata  (sorry, not Reid Ewing’s song “In the Moonlight, Do Me”).  The first movement is rather declamatory and ends loudly (unusual for a slow movement).  The other concerti of Saint-Saens are interesting to me and I’ll do a couple more of them here later.

Spectacular view of Moscow, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Scriabin Prelude has some unusual asymmetric meter


Winter 2018

Ashish Xiangyi Kumar presents two pianists playing the 24 Etudes, Op. 11, by Alexander Scriabin,

The artists are Lettberg and Stanev.

The preludes are very short, and Chopin-like

But the last Prelude, #24 in D Minor, has a time signature of 6/8 followed by 5/8. Effectively 11/8. But with these repeated chords the sense of hesitation is interesting.

Adam Neely has talked about rhythms like this with respect to jazz, covered early.

Friday, January 08, 2021

OS Opera: “The Beauty that Still Remains: Dairies in Song”, an unusual opera

A Maryland state park

Opera is trying to retool itself with a new kind of work, song cycles based on personal diaries.

The producers will mail diaries by Anne Frank, Osef Kalda and Virginia Woolf, and then provide song cycles by Dominick Argento, Juliana Hall and Leos Janacek, to accompany the diaries, creating a sort of dramatic entity.

The OS Opera company calls it “The Beauty that Still Remains: Dairies in Song”.

The Washington Post story is by Michael Andor Brodeur.  It reminds me of J.S. Bach's concept of "A Musical Offering". 

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Moszkowski's Piano Concerto #2, the themes sound so familiar


colonial pillory

I see that I reviewed the Moszkowski Piano Concerto #1 in 2015, but I thought to open the new year I would offer the Piano Concerto #2 in E Major, the courtly key, composed in 1898.

The recording is on the Medtnaculus YouTube channel, posted in 2016 with about 750000 views. The poster gives detailed notes.

The work is better known than the massive Op. 3 (a teen work, from 1880), with Markus Pawlik, and the Polish National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Antoni Wit.  The performance is on Naxos and I believe I have a copy on CD somewhere.

The first movement is a Moderato which states a familiar march theme, that seems to fold on itself. The Sonata form seems compresses, and there is a long excursion into G Major.

The slow movement is in C# Minor, and follows with a scherzo in the same key with related material, quoting the slow movement once before ending in D-flat.

The finale seems to use material from the first movement, and ends with a colossal coda.

Moszkowski is thought to have composed these works to augment his own career as a pianist.  Th

The second concerto is better known than the first, but still rather rarely performed.  Yet every theme in the work sounds very familiar, because Hollywood can’t resist copying themes from this work, like in 40a murder mysteries.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Scarlatti's agile D Minor Sonata with all those repeated notes

north Texas


Paul Barton, piano, plays Domenico Scarlatti’s  Sonata in D Minor, for Free Sheet Music.

This is the sonatina in rapid 3/8 time with repeated notes in many of the measures.  The transition to a second subject offers some harmonic adventures.  The exposition, then development-recapitulation are both repeated.

This music sounds sharp on a modern piano.  The repeated notes idea occurs in a Moszkowski Spanish Caprice in A Minor, which I played as a teenager. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

"Silent Night", transcription for modern chamber ensemble by Timo Andres


Trinity Presbyterian Arlington 2012 "Wise Guys"

Timo Andres presents his own transcription of “Silent Night”, original hymn by Franz Xaver Gruber.

The music is offered for piano with various electronic or real instruments, including Cello and double Bass, tim tam, Bass Clarinet.   The effect is impressionistic to “gebrauchmusik”.  It ends as quietly as possible.

This music comes from New York City, at a time when you can’t go there without being quarantined. Maybe in about three months this can all be over with enough vaccination and we can have in person events again.

I have to say that almost everyone I know online is staying well (including California).

On a normal Christmas Eve in past years, I would have gone to a candlelight service at 11 PM at Trinity Presbyterian in Arlington VA. 

Brooklyn NY near Atlantic Ave, April 2018