Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The ice has broken...

And I'm posting again!

Not much going on round here, though. Besides, of course, bunches and bunches of performances and competitions around the Metroplex and elsewhere. And hundreds of Wednesday lessons in between, filled with "Okay, that's good, but...", "Great, but...", and "That's so musical, but...".

You know, I wonder if one day I can have the buts come first. That might not be grammatically correct, but...

Sometimes I might give my prof a nice smack across the cheekbone, and other times I might hug him outright. I respect him, but...

Or, I might cut off sentences with "buts" in them. That might be a good idea, but...


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thinking here.

First of all:

Dear Blogspot,

Please accept my sincerest apologies for neglecting my little mini-world. Well, I'll at least attempt to change that - in the days to come. Meaning, of course, once I brave it through da monsta (piano biz) in June.

Secondly, and, less formally, I've been thinking of administratorship on the English Wikipedia for a while now. I've been offered a nomination man-ny, man-ny times, from the_ed17, Blooded Edge, Juliancolton, J.delanoy, MathCool10, and Goodmorningworld, among others. And, every time, I've turned it down. But the more I hear others asking me about it, the more it becomes a digestible idea. Why not run and see what happens?

See, my greatest fear is not that it will fail - of its initial failure I am certain. Nor is it that people will somehow find an imaginary skeleton in my closet and spark a POINTy, dramatic shark-fest (Because A) there are no skeletons, excepting the people whose bodies I have mutilated, and B) I find it easy to clam up regarding the little monster under the bridge that nomnoms goats). In fact, I don't even know what is holding me back. But I don't even know what others see in me to begin with, either.

Perhaps it is my aura. *halo of light gathers overhead*

In all seriousness, it's still quite an enigmatic decision to me. Perhaps it's the fact that I myself am unsure of my capabilities as an admin. After all, a good editor does not always make great admin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Bulletin: I've changed my profile photo (cute wittle kitty cat, to your right, under "About"). To be frank, I'm not a softie. I can be soft, but it's just not my nature - most of the time, at least.

Art is great, but Kittehmaster is better. He takes aim - and he is watching you. Violate WP:AGF, and you will be annihilated. Similarly, submit some WP:OR or WP:POV, and you will go down. Above all, violate WP:COOL, WP:CIVIL, WP:NPA, or WP:LEGAL, and you will never live to settle the next WP:LEW.

And if you're thinking WP:OMG!, look up the little acronyms on Wikiland, for great justice and atomic lulz.


Basement Cat

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chopin exemplified

Ladies and gents, this is the Chopin to beat. In fact, Blechacz even seems to resemble Chopin - the hair, the feel, the sound, the expression...

Now, I will try not to get too carried away with the subject, so I will keep it brief. In vain I have tried to find the right words (even spending a half-hour poring over this d---ed screen), but I have concluded it would be better just to leave the text short and brief. After all the music (and musician) are too beautiful for words.

I will add a bit of an aside - a "barcarolle" is a Venetian gondolier song. Create whatever fantastical, romantic imagery to accompany the evening music - as for me, I'm content with the images in the video alone. ;)

So drink in with the ears, readers. But remember - he's mine.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The angels of Fort Worth

Any Cowtown native is familiar with the iconic image of the limestone angels, trumpeting high (well, not so high) above the cityscape. Sometimes called the gem of Fort Worth, it's pretty hard to find under the multitude of skyscrapers. But it is culturally rich all the same - just a few paces from the famous Flying Saucer and Sundance Square, it's one of the many locales (Man with a Suitcase, a huge modern-art structure that sometimes even stupefies the locals; the Water Gardens, a free-admission, open-to-the-public park with artistic water fountains, and the stuff-yourself-to-death-while-starving-your-pocket Texas de Brazil, among hundreds of other restaurant sweet spots, too many places to list) that make downtown such a fun place to be.

I don't mean to make this post resemble a travel brochure, but I can't help but love Bass Performance Hall.

Jazz, classical, comedians, dramatists, any kind of auditory art can be found at Bass Hall. There, on the corner of 4th and Calhoun, I saw my very first piano concert, when I was nine. The pianist was Olga Kern, performing with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra shortly after her famous Van Cliburn win. I don't remember what she played, but I can honestly say that I have found such expression and musical passion rare.

And then there was the time I saw Nelson Freire, the Argentine pianist. His rendition of Chopin's Funeral March (WWE fans can remember it as The Undertaker's theme) brought chills and a profoundly dead silence throughout the entire hall. I can still remember how the bass was so evocative of tolling bells in the distant horizon.

And, more recently, I, and eyes younger than mine, have seen the pianist superstars Lang Lang, Rudolph Buchbinder, and Yundi Li perform in that same hall, and be inspired all the same.

It never fails - as I enter to see the velvet-clothed ushers, tall, curved ceilings, finely dressed clientele, marble floors, and bright atmosphere, I can't help but get goosebumps. I still dream of playing there someday, with the multitude listening with their person and observing with their ears.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fifteen minutes 'til eleven...

...and I find myself thinking nothing at all.

It's odd. According to many people, my life should be the most exciting right now, with all sorts of piano stuff and other real-life business popping up every week. I've got ten pieces to memorize by March, and a handful of recitals in between. And yet I'm sitting here, doing nothing, writing on my blog about nothing, just before going to bed, which is, paradoxically, doing something.

Yes, sleeping is considered an action. If I'm not mistaken, it's a verb.

But I promised I wouldn't ramble. So I'll find a topic to write about

Didn't work. I think I left my topics in San Francisco, even though I've never been there. But I'll be on the road again soon, makin' music with my friends. The pretty red-haired girl, the long-haired Super Mario piano buddies, who I'll save for a later post.

But unintelligible thoughts keep falling on my head, with little song lyrics attached. Oh well - at least I hope you laughed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

YouTube...or me?

A quick question, everyone - would you rather me continue feeding these delicious YouTube videos or continue writing blocks of text? I find the former more comfortable, so, I suppose a better question would that okay with you?

In the meantime, I'll leave with a beautiful rendition of Gershwin's Prelude No. 2, played by a familiar face. Ciao!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Bach controversy

So a friend and I got into a heated debate over whether pedal should be used in Baroque music.

For those of you unacquainted with it, the controversy is centered on the fact that the keyboards in Bach's time (harpsichords and clavichords, they were called) lacked pedals. Thus, for the classical music purists, Bach's music should not be tainted by something that did not exist in his time.

I agree with this. But that goes not to say that I am a purist myself.

My friend argues on the novel fact that Bach has been dead for several centuries. There is no use in musing over whether he would like what we did with his music, since, in her words, "he may or may not hear it, and he can't complain squat about it anyway even if he wanted to."

Well, she has a valid point there.

But there are also practical concerns for this. You see, the damper pedal removes the all dampers from all the strings, so the sound does not stop, even when a pianist removes the pressure on a key. So you can play an entire sequence of notes while holding the pedal down, and the notes will all fall in a blur, without separation. You could even close the lid, and the sound would continue to resonate. The problem with this is that in four-part counterpoint, four melodies sing at the same time, and small, detailed articulations help distinguish one voice from the other. With pedal, these articulations are lost.

And, I argue, that pedal can easily over-romanticize a work to the point that Bach sounds like Chopin or Liszt. Not good. But I also acknowledge that it can help reveal the hidden emotionalism and passion lurking deep within every piece of Baroque music. Very good.

But, again, I leave it to you. Here are two performances of the same piece, the first with pedal, on a modern piano, the other without, on a harpsichord. It is, by the way, the Aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another little slice of heaven...

Once again, I am sorely tempted to add another tidbit of choice music. And, lookie - I gave in to temptation.

I was a little hesitant at calling this another slice of heaven, since it's such a dramatic, deep piece. A real contrast to the Ravel. The middle part - the climax - is my personal favorite. This is where Zimerman shines, I believe: a golden tone, almost tangible in its warmth and clarity. Time seems to stand still in those precious moments of pure musical bliss.

This piece is most certainly on my to-do list. That is, if I can get past those huge jumps in the bass. A small, but slender hand is one of my big issues. ;)

But I should keep quiet - listen for yourself and think of your own interpretations. In fact, tell them to me, right now, on the comments board. I'd like to hear from all of you.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ravel + Argerich = Musical heaven

It's 1:30 in the morning here, and I just thought to share this moment with you all. I do believe Ravel was inspired by the supernatural when he wrote this - it's something to listen to and just reminisce, preferably alone, with closed eyes and a contented soul. To quote Chopin in describing his own concerto:

The Adagio [sic] of my new Concerto is in E major. It is not meant to create a powerful effect; it is rather a Romance, calm and melancholy, giving the impression of someone looking gently towards a spot which calls to mind a thousand happy memories. It is a kind of reverie in the moonlight on a beautiful spring evening.

Yes, he is quoting a different concerto, but how adequate - they both are in the same key, in similar tempos, scored for similar instruments, and they both evoke the same warm feelings in me. I'm having a hard time finding the appropriate words to describe a work like this - so perhaps that is the purpose of music, to describe what cannot be described with words.

But this is only one half of the equation - who could forget the amazingly tender performance by Martha here? Undoubtedly one of the best pianists of our century, a true gem. Her remarkably prodigious use of the una corda makes it so pearly and (let's try) translucent, like the sun peeping out behind wispy cirrus clouds. Not exactly a perfectly clear day, but that is, in my opinion, the imperfection that defines true beauty.