Berkeley California, classissima, classissima.com, James Barron, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, New York Times, piano, Pianomania!, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Stefan Kupfer, Steinway 1098, Steinway piano, Steinway studio upright, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, you tube.com, yout tube, youtube.com

Piano Mania! and the Bezerkeley arrival of Steinway 1098!

Pianomania! is an apt title for a documentary about Stefan Knupfer, Steinway piano technician, who gallops upstairs and downstairs in a premier “Vienna concert haus,” trying to meet the needs of performing pianists, recording artists, et al. They demand the kind of perfection in voicing, tuning, aesthetics that’s often beyond human capability. One classic example is a relationship, easily characterized as neurotic that plays out with Knupfer and Pierre-Laurent Aimard. The pianist is gearing up to record Bach’s Art of the Fugue and requires “voicing” for Clavichord, Harpsichord and Organ by individual sections. Try transforming an acoustic piano into a 17th century artifact using more imagination than hands-on intervention, though in truth, Stefan has something up his sleeve that no other tech can dream up. (He’s a problem-solving dynamo)

http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/movies/pianomania-by-lilian-franck-and-robert-cibis-review.html

The assortment of pianos Knupfer deals with is mind-boggling. Steinway grands are numbered like thoroughbreds at the Kentucky Derby.

The numbering, so conspicuously referenced in James Barron’s The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand(book and documentary) also applies to my own assortment of pianos.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/books/review/Morris.t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Picture this, before I escaped from Fresno to Berkeley, California–

A living room hodge podge of acoustics: (and one digital)

The aerial view:

Fast forward to the latest piano shuffle in Bezerkeley, a sized-down space, that forced two acoustics out the door–one on loan to a piano teacher in Fresno.

The other, a Baldwin Grand, 1929, is housed up in the El Cerrito Hills! (my second E. Bay piano studio) Skyped piano lessons are launched at my Berkeley pad.

piano room where I teach El Cerrito

But Hallelujia! Yesterday, Steinway 1098, a bright-sounding studio upright made it’s maiden voyage to my apartment, displacing Yamaha Arius 141 that was shuttled off to the kitchen! The latter incensed Jakov Corsa, Facebook friend, who just purchased Arius 161, and considers it having altar status. (Kitchen?)

Well, it was better than relocating an electronic to the bathroom, if you consider the economy-sized layout of my digs. (By the way, a hamper joins the blended family, with an ironing board neatly folded into a custom-made cabinet–It’s ready for deployment) Talk about an all-purpose kitchen!

Yamaha Arius 141 in kitchen

Almost center-stage, but still UP-staged by my Steinway Grand, M, 1917, NO. 185152, is 1098, delivered expertly and with panache by Greg McCrea, AA Pianos, Oakland. (Check Yelp and you’ll need no further help)

McCrea piano movers

AA piano movers McCrea

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DSC05402

Sitting pretty, all dolled up, and ready for action!

Steinway dim lighting

How’s this for lighting and color framing!

pretty Steinway with blanket

A few camera pans around the room

2 Steinway pianos

Mac back and Steinway pianos

The back story. I purchased Steinway 1098 in Fresno about 7 years ago. A friend spotted an ad for a Steinway upright in the FURNITURE section of the Fresno Bee classifieds. Naturally, I raced to see/play it, and my curiosity was rewarded by years of playing pleasure. The seller, a native Italian, planned relocation to the homeland and desperately needed to find a good home for her sweetheart. I guess it was love at first sight and sound! A match made in heaven!

Aimi Kobayashi, Brahms, Elaine Comparone, Glenn Gould, great pianists, Johannes Brahms, keyboard technique, Liszt, Murray Perahia, music history, Myra Hess, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, New York City High School of Performing Arts, pianist, piano, piano society, Piano Street, piano student, piano teacher, Piano World, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, scales, Scarlatti, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Steinway and Sons, Steinway console, Steinway grand piano, Steinway M grand piano, Steinway piano, talkclassical.com, Teach Street, technique, uk-piano-forums, Uncategorized, video performances, Vladimir Horowitz, word press, wordpress.com, Yamaha piano, you tube, you tube video

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.”

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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!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnMKeShFOd0

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7335XDZQP0

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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.