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Physical fitness routines that aid piano playing

Being physically fit, bottom line, is always helpful to piano playing. That’s why I frequent the gym every day. But I’ve found specific activities that more directly improve my endurance, and increase forearm and upper arm strength. (specifically my tube stretch routines that I demonstrate on video)

The Gravitron is also one of my favorite machines, along with the arm pull-up housed over at the Y. (I stay away from hand weights because of the strain it puts on my wrists.)

Yeol Eum Son, world class pianist, jumps rope, among other toning and flexibility regimens.

Here she’s plying her fitness warm-ups at a Tchaikovsky Piano Competition rehearsal:

My PIANO PUSH-UPS demonstrated at a lesson with an adult student:

Go to 1:47 on the track


"Tales of a Musical Journey" by Irina Gorin, Cyprien Katsaris, Irina Gorin, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Uncategorized, Yeol Eum Son, Yeti mic, Yeti microphone

My Top You Tube Picks for 2013, What are yours?

My note: I’ve listed links to blogs posted about these performers.


Grigory Sokolov Complete piano recital, Theatre de Champs Elysee (for astounding fusion of technique/lyricism/wide dynamic palette–having everything and anything at his disposal to draw upon from his rich musical repository)

Irina Morozova: Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, second movement (profound lyricism, singing tone, fluidity, molto cantabile, tasteful rubato, and more)

Yeol Eum Son, Earl Wild Arrangement of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” (gorgeous, finessed playing with a remarkable palette of colors—immaculate phrasing)

Vitaly Margulis: Chopin Nocturne in Db, Op. 27, No. 2 (heart-fluttering phrases, perfect rubato, OLD WORLD playing at its best)

George Li, Liszt “La Campanella” (a wondrously seasoned and beautiful approach to the piano that belies his youth)

Tatiana Nikolayeva ( Old, time-honored, Romantic era-wrapped Schumann) My heart is throbbing!

Yevgeni Sudbin (Domenico Scarlatti from heaven!)

Angela Hewitt, Bach French Suite in G (Lyrical Bach and quite pleasing)

Glenn Gould, Bach D Minor Concerto (beyond words!)

Murray Perahia, Partita in E minor, BWV 830 (As always, exquisite, captivating playing, mind and heart fused all the way through)


Elaine Comparone (Robust, vibrant and the rest)

Keyboard Sonata in G Major by C.P.E. Bach

Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in D Minor, K. 517 (A knock-out performance!)


Seymour Bernstein, Part 4, “You and the Piano”

Boris Berman

Cyprien Katsaris
Chopin Fantasie Impromptu

Irina Gorin (Wrist Relaxation Exercises)

















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Irina Morozova, pianist, shines playing Gershwin Virtuoso Transcriptions on CD!

Irina Morozova, a name that drew my attention amidst a flood of star-studded “Irina’s” in the teaching and performing realm, came through with shining colors in her nuanced readings of George Gershwin Improvisations. The CD title, “Gershwin Virtuoso Transcriptions” encompasses “improvisations” originally delivered by the composer himself on piano rolls, later transcribed by Artis Wodehouse, (7 of 8 attributable to her), with a set of virtuoso Etudes arranged by Earl Wild.

Yeol Eum Son, delivered a riveting performance of an embellished “Embraceable You,” heard far and wide on the Internet, but not played as well as Morozova who reveals a broader palette of color and tasteful rubato perfectly crafted to the jazz era.

Morozova’s peak performances of “Man I Love,” “I’ve Got Rhythm,” to name a few, are engaging because of their rhythmic vitality and melodic intensity. Add in technical mastery that’s jaw-dropping and you have a sizzling CD that demands instant replays.

The icing on the cake for me was the artist’s show-stopping reading of the composer’s Concerto in F transcribed by Grace Castegnetto that left me breathless and panting for more!

On the CD menu were some of the following tantalizing treats:

From the Solo Improvisations

“Someone to Watch Over Me,”
“S’Wonderful/Funny Face”

Earl Wild Seven Virtuoso Etudes on Gershwin Songs

A few snatches besides those songs already noted:

“Oh Lady Be Good”
“Fascinating Rhythm”
“Somebody Loves Me”

The back story:

Irina Morozova, a Mannes College of Music faculty member, first captured my interest when a friend shot off an e-mail that mentioned still another Irina in framed superlatives. To that point I’d been blogged out, waxing rhapsodic about Irina Gorin, piano pedagogue supérieure, and Irena Orlov, (with an E separating her from the pack) an icon among master teachers. Could I make a space for still another IRINA of star caliber?

Just then, Morozova popped up on my screen in a heavenly Romantic ambiance, out-playing herself on You Tube with a set of mesmerizing Chopin selections. Such listening enticements begged for more, adding to my list of Favorites.

This particular Chopin Impromptu performance stole my heart with its divine molto cantabile (singing tone) from first measure to final cadence!



“Irina Morozova made her New York debut with a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1996 after winning Artists International Auditions. Critics raved, “Morozova possesses an astonishing beauty of sound and power of ideas…she is the sort of pianist who can turn a simple phrase into magic….”

“Born to a musical family, Irina Morozova began her musical studies at the Leningrad Special Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with honors from the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music where her major teacher was Galina Orlovskaya. Studying with Vladimir Shakin at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, she performed in the concert halls of Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and many other cities in the former Soviet Union. She also toured former East Germany and appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the famed Schauspielhaus.

(A list of performance credits is too long to tabulate, though they encompass a variety of international venues.)

“Ms. Morozova received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Dr. Arkady Aronov. Since 1997 she has been on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and the Special Music School at Kaufman Center.”


Irina Morozova

Irena Orlov

Irina Gorin

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George Gershwin’s Prelude no. 2, and the retirement home circuit (Videos)

When I did my retirement home tours, feisty tunes were more well-received than the melancholy Prelude no. 2 in C# minor. Everybody knew Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” and “Rhapsody in Blue,” plus a truckload of Hoagy Carmichael favorites.

So, looking back, I should have thought twice about featuring this musical gem as my opener. (as lackluster as it was without color coating at the time)

About Prelude #2:

Published in 1927, the work was first performed by George Gershwin in a concert at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. A challenge to play, it doesn’t fit easily under the fingers because of large note spans, and it requires a tasteful amount of tempo rubato of a bluesy, moody character.

Part of a Prelude trio, the composition is framed by the more spirited #1 and #3.


Try romancing the over 75 crowd with a somber tune of obscure identity and you’re not going to get a call back anytime soon.

Inevitably, the old folks gave a shout out for “Edelweiss” and the complete Sound of Music medley. Next on the charts was “Bicycle Built for Two,” followed by “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

“Stardust” and “Skylark” were big winners, along with “Heart and Soul.”

But if the piano bench ate into sacred dining room table space, there were grave consequences. I can’t forget the day I tumbled into the lap of a wheelchair bound resident who promptly opted out of lunch, taking her place mat with her.

Others turned down their hearing aids below O frequency.

A few at the homey ranch-style facility were more respectful.

“Hans” and “Kirsten” greeted me warmly whenever I turned up for my monthly gig at Paradise Found Retirement. Ironically, Hans had been a Basso Profundo in the Berlin Opera during the war years, and his wife, whom he met in Norway, was herself an accomplished pianist who lived across the street from the country’s celebrated composer, Edvard Grieg.

In the presence of this acculturated pair, my 40′s jam session quickly morphed into a full fledged Classical concert, that is, after most diners had retired to their rooms to freshen up before BINGO.

And that reminds me of the gig I did over at Carrington Point before the piano crumbled under my fingers. The sad circumstance of a Young Chiang with blank and chipped notes, forced me to haul my digital keyboard and other gear a considerable distance. Thankfully, the booking was short-lived.

So I could say with confidence, that residents at the POINT who were walker-bound and accompanied by nurses’ aides, liked Gershwin’s Prelude no. 2. In fact, the last I’d heard, some were asking after me, hoping I would come back to do an afternoon of George G., playing all THREE preludes.

Unfortunately, I never returned, though I recorded some tunes for the old folks and sent them along on a cassette.


Finally, this writing would be undeserving of praise without sharing two riveting Gershwin performances:

Yeol Eum Son plays George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.”

Irina Morozova delivers a sizzling “I Got Rhythm!”