Update: Approaching still another New Year, I will add more favorite performances by pianists to the group: These inspiring players include Irina Morozova, Cyprien Katsaris, and Georgy Cziffra plus Yeol Eum Son playing Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.”
Since it’s the New Year, here are some of my picks, though I’m a bit of throwback to the old days, when modern technology had not yet invaded the recording studio. There are few reel to reel interspersed performances, and one special concert appearance that dates to the World War II era, when pianist, Dame Myra Hess played the Mozart concerto in G Major, K. 453 in London’s National Gallery, joined by the Royal Air Force orchestra. Let’s start with this one, and move forward in time. (with zigzagging here and there)
This concerto has special meaning for me since it was the very first one I studied, and was fortunate to have performed at the annual winter Concerto Concert of the HS of Performing Arts Orchestra. Though my heart was set on playing the Beethoven Bb Concerto, Murray Perahia and Robert DeGaetano earned the honors, and rightfully so.
Speaking of Murray Perahia, I can say with certainty, that those who took classes beside him at “P.A.” (Performing Arts High) were indelibly influenced by his artistry, up front and personal. Here is one of my favorite performances of his, that is a bit scratchy, but resonates with Perahia’s singing tone, vibrant energy and shimmering passage work. For Mozart Concertos, I would recommend his CDs of ALL 27!!!
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And don’t forget the middle (slow) movement of this concerto that was adapted as the movie theme for “Elvira Madigan.” Who says the MAJOR key can’t be soulful.
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Let’s back track a bit. Watch Glenn Gould practicing Bach at home on his old Chickering grand (not the beloved Steinway written about in Katie Hafner’s book) Excuse his singing, but it does give life to the pianist’s phrasing.
Lang Lang plays Liszt’s “Liebestraume” at his Carnegie Hall debut recital.
Krystian Zimerman performs the Schubert Impromptu No. 3 in Gb Major Op. 90 in a lovely parlor setting.
Vladimir Horowitz plays the Chopin “Black Key” Etude, Op. 10, No. 5. While the video and audio clarity is not perfect, this performance has historical value. Horowitz was interviewed in his Manhattan apartment in the presence of his wife Wanda, who is the daughter of the famed maestro, Arturo Toscanini. The impromptu playing of the “Black Key” Etude is worth a listen, minus all the recording studio edits, splices, etc.
And in the present, my favorite young pianist who reminds me of a young Richter or Gilels, whose concerts I attended at Carnegie Hall.
In this appearance at the 2010 Chopin International Piano Competition in Poland, Evgeni Bozhanov from Bulgaria plays the Chopin Waltz in Ab Major, Op. 42
Notice the Yamaha piano that Bozhanov selected over a Steinway and Fazioli. Interesting story going back to the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition in Texas: Bozhanov was not pleased with the Steinway grand sent to his host family, so he chose to practice on a Yamaha Clavinova. (digital piano) I thought it was charming to see him perched at the Clavy rehearsing some of the warhorse concertos, minus the orchestra, of course.
Aimi Kobayashi (age 14).. not just a child prodigy, but a fully developed young artist who communicates music from the heart with an abundance of technique to spare. Here’s the Chopin Etude no. 4 in C# minor.
Excuse this departure, but I must include one particular, resonating harpsichord performance.
The artistry of Elaine Comparone is displayed in this performance of the Scarlatti Sonata in D minor, K. 517:
And to come full circle, looking back over a panorama of wonderful pianists and their performances, here’s a sample of Dame Myra Hess’s artistry, reel to reel, playing Brahms selections.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX9TgQUclfg (Looks like the account was closed down)
Once again, who says that the MAJOR key cannot be beautifully soulful and melancholy. (Brahms Intermezzo in C Major)
Please share your own preferences and choices. I look forward to seeing/hearing your selected artists and their videos.