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In the Piano Universe: Two You Tube Treasures not to miss!

Every so often, I stumble upon an uploaded You Yube performance that grabs my ears. In this instance, it was a Mozart encore offered by pianist, Mitsuko Uchida, that led straight to a compelling videotaped interview with her. With my antennae up and ready for more sparkle to light up my day, I was amply rewarded.

I must admit that when I surveyed first movement readings of K. 545, the “Drawing Room” sonata, I was less intrigued by Uchida’s interpretation (employing a clipped staccato) than by what I found as an afterthought to a concert she had given at an unspecified location. (her short notes, were refined in a portato-like rendering through a soulful Andante)

First, to celebrate an artist, who does not feel obligated to reel off a show-stopping transcription as a tour de force ending to a concert, but instead chooses a slow movement to cap the evening….

I remember how satisfying it was to hear Horowitz bless his audience with Schumann’s “Reverie” as the ultimate conclusion to his recital. (He would precede this offering with virtuoso displays, but not leave the stage without making a peace with himself and his listeners)

And so, Uchida, in this spirit played the second movement of Mozart’s well-known Sonata in C, which by serendipitous opportunity, led to a prized interview that provided an intimate glimpse of her inner thoughts, ideas and philosophy.

Be inspired:

Interview (It’s in English)

RELATED:

Compare readings of Mozart K. 545, Allegro

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/comparing-performances-of-mozart-sonata-in-c-k-545-movement-1-allegro-tempo-alone-can-make-a-big-difference/
***

BIO from Uchida’s Official Website:

http://www.mitsukouchida.com”>http://www.mitsukouchida.com”>http://www.mitsukouchida.com

“…whatever she plays, you always sense that Uchida has thought through the reasons for everything she does, but always in the best interests of communicating what she feels is the emotional essence of the music. It’s a rare, and very precious gift.”
The Guardian

“Mitsuko Uchida is a performer who brings a deep insight into the music she plays through her own search for truth and beauty. She is renowned for her interpretations of Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven, both in the concert hall and on CD, but she has also illuminated the music of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez for a new generation of listeners. Her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra won four awards, including The Gramophone Award for Best Concerto. Amongst many current projects, Uchida has recently been recording a selection of Mozart’s Piano Concerti with the Cleveland Orchestra, directing from the piano. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote of their performances of K.466 and K.595 in April 2010, ‘Uchida turns in readings of such eloquence, one has no trouble understanding why they’re also being recorded for posterity’ and The Times wrote of the disc issued in October 2009, (K.491 and K.488), which won a Grammy award, ‘Did even the great Clara Haskil play Mozart’s piano music as wonderfully, as completely – with intelligence and instinct perfectly fused – as Mitsuko Uchida?’

“Highlights this season include performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic and Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra and Salonen, and the continuation of the Beethoven concerti cycle with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis. Uchida will perform chamber music at the Mozartwoche festival in Salzburg, with the Hagen Quartet in a tour of Japan, and with Magdalena Kožená in Europe. She will give solo recitals in Tokyo, Salzburg, Berlin, Paris, London, Chicago and New York.

“Mitsuko Uchida performs with the world’s finest orchestras and musicians. Some recent highlights have been her Artist-in-Residency at the Cleveland Orchestra, where she directed all the Mozart concerti from the keyboard over a number of seasons. She has also been the focus of a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series entitled ‘Mitsuko Uchida: Vienna Revisited’. She has featured in the Concertgebouw’s Carte Blanche series where she collaborated with Ian Bostridge, the Hagen Quartet, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as directing from the piano a performance of Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Uchida has also been Artist-in-Residence at the Vienna Konzerthaus, and with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where she performed a series of chamber music concerts and a Beethoven Piano Concerti cycle with Sir Simon Rattle.

“Mitsuko Uchida records exclusively for Decca and her recordings include the complete Mozart piano sonatas and piano concerti; the complete Schubert piano sonatas; Debussy’s Etudes; the five Beethoven piano concerti with Kurt Sanderling; a CD of Mozart Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Mark Steinberg; Die Schöne Müllerin with Ian Bostridge for EMI; the final five Beethoven piano sonatas; and the 2008 recording of Berg’s Chamber Concerto with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez and Christian Tetzlaff. Uchida’s most recent releases are CD’s of Mozart’s concerti K.488 and K.491, and a second disc of K.466 and K.595, both with Uchida directing the Cleveland Orchestra from the piano; and an acclaimed disc of Schumann’s solo piano music, featuring the Davidsbündlertänze and the Fantasie.

“Mitsuko Uchida has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to aiding the development of young musicians and is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. She is also Co-director, with Richard Goode, of the Marlboro Music Festival. In June 2009 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”

December 2011

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Irina Morozova’s inspiring words flow through a lesson with an adult student (Beethoven’s Fur Elise-in-progress) Video

“From watching great pianists it is obvious that they incorporate quite different movements to achieve the same goals, because people do not play piano with fingers but rather with the mind and the ear. Again, it is the clear image of what kind of sound one wants to achieve, combined with the knowledge of how to get it….”

To frame a lesson with these ideas, helps to infuse it with the spiritual, analytical, and nonverbal elements of exchange.

Within this paradigm, one of my adult students continued her study of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” (C section, treble chord voicing with bass tremolo)

LINK:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

arioso 7, blog, blogging, blogging about piano, blogs about piano, Classical era, classical music, classical period piano music, Classical sonatina, classissima, classissima.com, classisssima.com, Clementi Sonatina in C Op. 36 no. 1, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, El Cerrito piano instruction, fingering and phrasing at the piano, fingering and piano technique, Fresno CA, Fresno California, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, keyboard technique, MTAC, music and heart, music and the breath, musical phrasing, Muzio Clementi, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano playing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano playing and the singing tone, piano practicing, piano teacher, piano technique, Piano World, piano world-wide, pianoaddict.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Piano Lesson: The challenge of playing a slow movement

I chose Muzio Clementi’s popular Sonatina in C, Op. 36, No. 1 to flesh out the contrasting middle movement designated ANDANTE by the composer. It’s definitely a challenge to play just 6 lines of music with beauty and finesse.

As a start, the player is exposed to realizing rolling triplet 8th-notes in the left hand against a flowing treble melodic line with interspersed trills. These “decorations” or embellishments move rapidly through principal notes lending a shimmer to them. One can choose less repercussions (in 16ths) for the trill or try the alternate group of more notes in 32nds. (Indicated in the score)

I personally believe that more repercussions give the movement a gem-like character in the Classical style. Mozart’s music, for example, sparkles with trills. Why not give Clement the same deference.

The video below offers a step-wise approach to learning the Andante movement. As expected, the rolling forward motion of the wrist helps to phrase the bass and treble. In addition, striking a nice balance between voices is a significant dimension of a satisfying performance.

This movement may have a tendency to drag, but in truth, Andante, if taken literally, comes from the Italian ANDARE, “to walk.” Andante being the gerund, WALKING does not mean lumbering along.

The triplets should therefore, pleasingly move with grace giving support to a fluidly played melody. And between the hand-crossovers of triplets, the ongoing legato must be preserved.

Where parallel 6ths are introduced, one should think of a single melodic tone through each group of three, best illustrated in the instructional footage.

Molto Cantabile (cultivation of the singing tone) is one’s best frame in playing this movement with beauty and refinement.

Playing through in tempo:

Burgmuller "La Chasse", Burgmuller Inquietude, Burgmuller pastorale, Burgmuller Pastorale Op. 100, Burgmuller Tarentelle, Burgmuller The Chase, Burgmuller's Op. 100 Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, classissima, classissima.com, Friedrich Burgmuller, music, music and heart, music teachers association of california, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano playing, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano repertoire, piano student, piano study, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano technique, piano technique and the singing tone, piano world-wide, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano with expression, playing the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, practicing difficult piano passages, practicing piano with relaxation, Romantic era music, Romantic era piano music, Romantic era piano repertoire, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, shirley smith kirsten blog, slow mindful practicing, slow piano practicing, Steinway M grand piano, studying piano, supple wrist in piano playing, swinging arms in playing piano, teaching a piano student about melody, teaching piano, teaching piano to adults, teaching piano to children, teaching piano to teenagers, technique, The art of phrasing at the piano, Twenty five Progressive pieces by Burgmuller, video instruction, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Piano Technique: Burgmuller’s Tarentelle, Op. 100-Fueling and shaping fast passages with a dipping, supple wrist (Videos)

Most piano students will have been assigned a Burgmuller selection or two during their formative years of study. And most likely, these would have been snatched from the composer’s Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, Op. 100 that advance by steps in difficulty, though it can be argued that all contain unique technical challenges.

Composed in the Romantic style, this music is strikingly beautiful while it advances specific technique-related goals.

One of my favorites, “La Tarentelle” in a fast and furious tempo, has its origins steeped in fear.

From Wikipedia

“In the region of Taranto in Italy, the bite of a locally common type of wolf spider, named “tarantula” after the region[3], was popularly believed to be highly poisonous and to lead to a hysterical condition known as tarantism. The stated belief in the 16th and 17th centuries was that victims needed to engage in frenzied dancing to prevent death from tarantism using a very rhythmic and fast music. The particular type of dance and the music played became known as Tarantella.”

It’s no surprise that over time, many composers tried their hand at writing their own Tarantellas. (Italian form)

Rapid, frenzied passage work characterizes Burgmuller’s “Tarantelle,” which requires whole arm activity and supple wrists.

And while it may seem that the fingers are propelling the composer’s music along, they can easily tire if not fueled by a bigger physical energy.

Breathing long, relaxed breaths, being in the moment and thinking slowly through fast stretches of notes, keep the music flowing.

Rolling through three note group figures that are characteristic of 6/8 time, also helps to style and phrase streams of eighth notes. This is where a supple wrist allows an infusion of energy when most needed. For shaping lines, it’s indispensable.

(Notice a SLOW MOTION video-only replay that’s sandwiched into the Lesson video)

A defined section of punctuated quarter note chords found on page 2, shifts the mood and character of the composition giving it a robust, march-like character. At this point, it’s best to style, cajole, and phrase the notes in such a way, that draws listener interest.

Piano Lesson:

Playing Tarentelle in tempo:

RELATED:

La Chasse (The Chase) by Burgmuller


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/piano-technique-re-arranging-hands-for-speed-and-agility-in-burgmullers-la-chasse-the-chase-videos/

"The Return" by Burgmuller, arioso7, authors den, authorsden, blog, blogger, blogging, blogging about piano, blogs about piano, Burgmuller, Burgmuller's Op. 100 Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, classissima, classissima.com, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, El Cerrito piano instruction, El Cerrito piano studio, forearm staccato, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, keyboard technique, learning piano, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, MTAC, music, music and heart, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessson, piano study, piano teacher, piano teaching repertoire, piano technique, Piano World, piano world-wide, pianoaddict.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing staccato, playing staccato at the piano, playing the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, practicing difficult piano passages, Romantic era music, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, video instruction, word press, word press.com, wordpress, you tube, you tube video

Burgmuller’s “The Return”–like a light opera, with interspersed drama (videos)

“The Return” from the composer’s Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, Op. 100, is ear-catching. Like an Offenbach opera replete with an Overture, it delights in a set of lighthearted staccato chords that spill into a passionate MINOR sequenced interlude, setting the heart afire. Extinguished by the revisit of Eb Major punctuations, the music drifts off by authentic cadence, draped in Romantic era style.

More about this charmer and how to approach:

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When sight-reading is not enough: Learning a new piano piece from the ground up so we can teach it to our students (Videos)

I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Sviatoslav Richter when asked how he approached a challenging new composition of virtuoso proportion:

His reply– “I read a new piece and then start practicing the place that irritates me the most. After learning that one I move to the next irritation, etc.”

Well, most of us would die to have such comparable talent, but our perfunctory read of a new composition only skims the surface, requiring our deeper commitment to musical and technical discovery.

I will admit that earlier today I dove into a virgin piece, submerging myself for greater than two full hours as I refined fingering, mapped out harmonic rhythm, probed voice layering, and the rest. It was in readiness for my video tutorial of Mendelssohn’s Children’s Piece, Op. 72 No. 1.

This composition, with a hymn-like, singing tone quality, happened to be the second one brought to me by my “new” Bay area adult student. As it turned out, she was very committed to hard work and personal musical development which was one of the rare blessings to come my way over a long teaching career. For me, this was an opportunity to grow along with her and expand my pianistic horizons.

In the embedded video offered, I literally approached the Mendelssohn work as if I were a maiden voyager on a musical journey, wanting to make my student’s foray a bit easier.

Along the way, I encountered a perfectly heart-warming character piece that looked deceptively simple, but wasn’t. And as I dealt with a choir of voices, with a few inner ones needing to be fleshed out, I re-fingered measures that had poor editorial choices, and examined harmonic rhythm and phrasing to ensure a depth of learning that would be long-lasting.

Previously, I’d studied many of the composer’s “Songs without Words” which provided a good Romantic era underpinning for this undertaking, but still, I required quality time to examine a brand new composition that was not in my repertoire. (Separate hand practice could not be avoided)

The video instruction contained baby-step advances that would bode well for a progressive learning and ripening process, and in this effort, I would partner with an enthusiastic adult student who was on the same page with me.

LINKS:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/how-to-improve-sight-reading-at-the-piano/

The very first lesson with a new Intermediate or advanced piano student: thinking creatively on your feet

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/the-very-first-lesson-with-a-new-intermediate-or-advanced-piano-student-thinking-creatively/

"Clowns" by William Gillock, Accent on Gillock Volume two Later Elementary, classissima, classissima.com, Gillock composer, mind body connection, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, Moonbeams and other Musical Sketches by Shirley Kirsten, MTAC, music, music and heart, music teachers association, Oberlin Conservatory, Op. 39 Children's Pieces by Kabalevsky, phrasing at the piano, pianist, pianists, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessson, piano pedagogy, piano practicing, piano recital, piano repertoire, piano student, piano studio, piano study, piano teacher, piano teacher and student relationships, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, Piano World, piano world-wide, pianoaddict.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing staccato at the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, playing two musical instruments, William Gillock, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Piano Instruction: A charming, quick-paced piece for late elementary students, titled “Clowns,” by Gillock (VIDEO)

Continuing my tribute to the prolific and talented composer, William Gillock, I’ve snatched “Clowns” from Volume Two of his Accent on Gillock collection. (published by Willis Music Company)

Not to be long-winded about my approach to teaching this sprightly composition, I simply outline a step-wise practicing routine.

1) Since the melody is divided between the hands through most of the score, it would be counter-productive to separate the hands in an initial learning phase. Therefore, I recommend a continuous flow from one hand to the other at a very slow tempo and with a bigger dynamic than indicated. This allows a a deep feel connection to the notes while reinforcing fingering.

Staccato, by the way, is played with the whole relaxed arm, and supple wrist as I demonstrated in the video.

Articulation of notes, or their groupings with slurs as indicated, including staccato, accent marks should be integrated into the behind tempo playing.

2) As conscientious practicing continues, I support playing “Clowns” in the same tempo but with the added observance of dynamics.

3) If the process moves along nicely over time, I ask the pupil to advance the tempo, but not to a level where his playing becomes out of control.

4) Finally, over time, the piece should mature or ripen into the desired tempo which still remains a subjective realm unless the composer had affixed a specific metronome marking to his music. (Gillock indicated, “Rather fast, humorously” to describe the pace and character of “Clowns.”)

Here’s today’s video:

The Clowns universe is a draw for many composers. Kabalevsky created a charming “Clowns” piece that belongs to his Op. 39 Children’s Pieces.

And I sheepishly admit to having written Juggling Clowns that’s part of my Moonbeams and Other Musical Sketches collection. The attached art had been contributed by my late uncle, David Smiton.

LINKS:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/teaching-gillocks-delightfully-appealing-later-elementary-level-music-the-glass-slipper-video/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-formative-years-of-piano-study-and-the-basic-building-blocks-of-learning-videos/