Aimi Kobayashi, Aristo Sham, CAPRICE ESPAGNOL MORITZ MOSZKOWSKI, Daniel Barenboim, Seymour Bernstein, word press,, you tube, you tube video

Piano Performance retrospectives: The seeds of greatness were sown early in life

It was fascinating to discover videos of pianists in their teens that hearken back to their earlier years of study. In all, a hallmark feel for the phrase and nuance highlights their performances in the past and present. In addition their heartfelt playing rises above the notes and communicates a musical passion that is unabashedly shared.

In a second set of videos, older, more established pianists have uploaded flashback offerings that are just as impressive.

Aimi Kobayashi

A 16-year old who has become a household name in European and American musical circles, Aimi’s spring 2010 debut in Carnegie Hall brought home her enormous talent.

In this performance the artist is 14.

Chopin Etude Op. 10 no. 4

Here’s a flashback performance when she was 4:

At a tender age, Aimi played with a rich palette of dynamics and beautiful phrasing:

George Li:

Li makes his Vancouver Playhouse debut at 16:

Flashback to age 12 performing Flight of the Bumblebee (Rachmaninoff arrangement/Rimsky-Korsakov)

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Aristo Sham:

Making an appearance at the Miami International Piano Festival in 2009, Aristo was 13 at the time. (footage cannot be embedded)

Three Ginastera Dances

Flashback to Aristo Sham at 8:

Lang Lang performs Liszt’s Liebestraume at his Carnegie Hall debut:

A child of 11, Lang Lang appears in a home video playing Chopin’s “Black Key” Etude

Seymour Bernstein

Here’s the heavenly rendered Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Going back in time to age 15 on vinyl record, Bernstein interprets Chopin’s works as a seasoned pianist.

Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim in recording as a child of 12:

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Teaching Chopin’s Gb Etude, Op. 25 no. 9: Think pogo sticks, “rollaleedles,” and elbow revolutions

Sometimes a piano teacher has no choice but to talk in silly made up syllables while drawing on playground analogies to get a particular piece off the ground.

The Chopin Etude Op. 25 no. 9 in Gb was no exception.

An adult student who revisited this warhorse responded positively to “rollaleedles,” elbow taps, and revolutions of her arm that put a whole new spin on the piece.

“Pogo stick” images also went a long way to ignite the opening motif of 4 notes grouped by twos, ending short and crisp. They bounced across the musical landscape then twirled around in a flourished ending that boosted the student’s confidence.


A piano teacher who runs out of ideas to advance a composition along, can enliven the lesson environment with images of pogo sticks, ping pong balls, trampolines, plus a supply of self concocted swinging syllables that include “roll-a-lee-dle,” “swirl-a-lee-dle and “swoosh-a-lee-dle.”

If you can think of any more, let me know.


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My Favorite Video Performances of Beloved Pianists: Do you have some to share? (UPDATED)

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. (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.