Lukas Debargue, piano

Run to hear Pianist, Lucas Debargue!

A rising young pianist who placed 4th in the grueling 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition, but earned special RECOGNITION by the Moscow Music Critics Association, scored a unanimous victory on stage at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. (February 12th, 2017 at 3 p.m.)

lukas-debargue-program-3-revised-crop

Without question, the 27-year-old French pianist, Lucas Debargue made an indelible impression on members of a full-house audience that included a diverse community of Classical music lovers.

Moscow Conservatory grads, local and international music teachers, piano students, and a stash of pianoforte mavens rose to their feet at the program’s conclusion, applauding for long intervals with interspersed “Bravo’s,” forming a loud choir of approval.

It was a visceral response to music-making that rose above the instrument, elevating itself to cosmic proportion. The pianist became a vehicle for the transmission of the composer’s ideals in his nuanced mosaic of impeccably sensitive phrasing that encompassed a diverse palette of tonal expression and colors.

In a journey through varied historical periods (Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist and Romantic Expressionist), Debargue’s expressive poetry synchronized beautifully with what belonged to each era. He possessed tonal flexibility; a repository of articulated and seamless legato, and sonorous chords that never slipped into offensively percussive attacks. In summary, he produced beautiful passage work, liquid trills, shimmering glissandi, and a wide dynamic range that served the highest musical ends. It was as if Debargue had carefully crafted various dialects of a common musical language to unify his program.

In essence, the pianist’s imagination had free-reign while it respectfully adhered to the composer’s intention in phrase peaks to climax and soulfully rendered resolutions.

As one concertgoer put it who stood on a long post-recital reception line: Lucas Debargue became a “co-creator” as he channeled the works of Domenico Scarlatti, Frederic Chopin, Maurice Ravel and Medtner. (The commentator turned out to be a Moscow Conservatory grad, married to a winner of a distinguished Piano Competition.)

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Following the maestro’s remarkable display of virtuosity wedded to pure poetry, I had quickly joined a stream of audience members who had poured into the artist reception area and had immediately shared their unabashed enthusiasm for the performance. Naturally, with a blog in gestation, quickened by my intensified excitement, I broke out the iPhone and filmed the pianist during his reflective moments. At one point he talked about how a composition must “mature” and ripen in the course of YEARS, echoing the inspired words of his beloved Russian teacher, *Rena Shereshevskaia.

I was so “overwhelmed” by the whole panorama of events that streamed out of an awe-inspiring concert, that my adult student who’d joined me for the occasion, preserved a safe distance from me– promising to come forth at the right moment to snap of few photos of her teacher in the presence of musical royalty.

debargue-and-me-profile-me

And so the icing on the cake amounted to a gush of praise that did not falter. Candidly, I confessed that I’d heard Gilels, Richter and Ashkenazy as a child growing up in New York, but that Debargue’s playing by far, had moved me the most.

lukas-and-me-front-view

So, Run, Run, Run to hear Lucas Debargue by first checking his website for a list of his scheduled recital appearances.

http://www.lucas-debargue.com/

IMPORTANT LINK (From the blog “Slipped Disc”)
“The French pianist who caused a sensation at the Tchaikovsky Competition has given his first in-depth interview to Bertrand Boissard, at Parlons Piano.

*”Among other topics, he discusses his Russian teacher Rena Shereshevskaia; his two years working at a supermarket till, his preference for learning Prokofiev by ear and his favorite pianists of all time, singling out among French artists the little-known Marcelle Meyer.”

Read the full, in-depth interview here.
Ismene Brown has generously created an English translation:
http://ismeneb.com/blogs-list/2015-other-stories/150724-parlons-piano-with-lucas-debargue.html

adult piano instruction, adult piano instructn, Domenico Scarlatti, Lillian Freundlich, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano technique, Scarlatti Sonatas, Uncategorized

A Domenico Scarlatti Sonata that enables Finger and Forearm Staccato

It’s been decades since my beloved N.Y.C. piano teacher, Lillian Freundlich bestowed upon me the gift of Domenico Scarlatti Sonatas. And at the time, (while I was a student at the New York City H.S. of Performing Arts) I had no idea that those she had selected were permeated with the basics of technique bonded to musical expression.

lillianfreundlich  lil2

Yet, I have no specific recollection of my mentor having isolated finger staccato from that generated by the forearm. Similarly, wrist staccato was even more foreign to her musical vocabulary. (Nonetheless Mrs. Freundlich always checked for supple wrists, and for relaxingly suspended arms without a trace of tension)

Basically, Lillian Freundlich’s springboard was the singing tone, and how to phrase by building smaller measures to larger ones using a free fall relaxed arm and a progressive note-grouping approach. She also doted on the dotted 8th/16th rhythm to smooth out bumpy lines.

As years have passed, and more than one teacher has influenced me during an extended musical journey in and out of the Conservatory, I’ve come to the conclusion that identifying and isolating various types of staccato is part of the enriched piano learning cosmos–that such a physical/musical nexus is intrinsic to growing artistry.

Excuse my wordy introduction, but perhaps it’s a necessary prelude to a tutorial I prepared right after having resurrected Scarlatti Sonata in G, K. 14, L. 387 as part of my spiritual homecoming.

Scarlatti Sonata in G  p. 1

Having observed reams of detached notes in forte and piano dynamic ranges permeating the score, I realized how fortunate I was to have spent inordinate time with my adult students cultivating various kinds of staccato via scales and arpeggios around the Circle of Fifths. It clearly amounted to a common journey of infinite value!

Finally, to have reviewed a Baroque era composition that was exemplary of the Keyboard School of Virtuosity fathered by Domenico Scarlatti, afforded an opportunity to re-explore staccato playing in all its expressive facets.

Play Through:

Instruction:

Alfred publications, Domenico Scarlatti, esercizi per gravicembalo, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Margery Halford, Margery Halford collection of Scarlatti's Keyboard Works, Margery Halford editor, piano blog, piano blogging, Scarlatti, Scarlatti Sonatas, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten

Domenico Scarlatti’s music that’s within reach of the Intermediate level student

Scarlatti Halford better

Margery Halford via Alfred publications has compiled a nice assortment of Domenico Scarlatti’s Menuettos and Sonatas (essercizi) that’s a satisfying “Introduction” to the Baroque era composer’s music. (Scarlatti, An Introduction to his Keyboard Works)

In fact, I snatched at least five of these binary form sonatas for my two-part disc in 2007, combined with the more technically challenging ones I selected from Vladimir Horowitz’s treasured Scarlatti CD.

Horowitz championed Domenico Scarlatti’s works during a time when many concert pianists were not programming the composer’s body of works, so Domenico’s rebirth was a blessing to performers, teachers, and students who realized not only the beauty of his music but its relevance to developing technique and musicianship.

Scarlatti, in fact, is considered the forerunner of the virtuoso school of keyboard playing, and in these less complex examples from Halford’s collection, one can readily flesh out arpeggio and scale passages that easily transfer from Circle of Fifths Scale and Arpeggio study. (Note Scarlatti’s own translation of his Sonatas as Essercizi per Gravicembalo–or exercises)

The other day, I sent this particular gem to my students with the tag, “That’s why we study arpeggios!” Surely such an exemplary beauty cross-fertilizes and enriches their daily technical regimen.

In this second example from the Halford edition, more arpeggios and broken chords permeate, but there are a few selected arpeggio and scale-like passages that are worth examining for their focus on particular wrist forward motions that I will separately examine in my attached sample:

First, a play through:


Snatching measures from this sonata for technical study and fluency:

Scarlatti segment from Sonata in G

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A most recently learned delightful miniature:

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Here’s annother Halford selected gem (a Menuetto, once again) that was rendered on my formerly owned Baldwin Hamilton grand piano (known as the “blind date” beauty) To be sure, it had a brighter timbre which proves that each piano has its own unique character.

(I’m definitely enjoying my new Baldwin 165 model grand with its more mellow character)

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Not contained in Halford’s collection, but snatched from James Friskin’s edition, is the celebrated C Major Sonata L. 159 that my late teacher, Lillian Freundlich gave me to study decades ago when I first began lessons with her. (At the time, I was about 13, enrolled at the New York City High School of Performing Arts)

This certainly poses a challenge in the universe of trills, providing an ample practice opportunity for a student needing such focus.

LINK:
Scarlatti’s LIFE, CAREER, and MUSIC
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domenico_Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti birthday, Murray Perahia, piano blog, Richard Goode, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, The Musical Offering Cafe, The Musical Offering Cafe in Berkeley, Zellerbach Hall

Celebrating Domenico Scarlatti’s birthday at the Musical Offering Cafe in Berkeley (Video)

musical offering parking lot mural

A great prelude to Richard Goode’s Berkeley piano recital was my brief stop-off at the colorful Musical Offering Cafe (2430 Bancroft Way) which sits directly across from Zellerbach Hall. Even the parking lot that hosts guests at both locations, has a gorgeous mural that lures concertgoers to the charming, arts-centered bistro. Packed with Classical CDs that spill into a space reserved for fine dining, the cafe is resonating with love for the great music Masters.

Since it was October 26th, Domenico Scarlatti’s birthday, my piano student, Jocel, and I fully intended to honor the composer by purchasing a few sonata-filled Cds.

That’s how a SONY Classical disk, Murray Perahia plays Handel and Scarlatti, landed in Jocel’s hands while I snatched the pianist’s Bach Concerti album.

Perahia album cropped

The Musical Offering is a great place to eat, schmooze with other Classical music mavens, and grab a few bargain priced CDs.

So on my next outing to Zellerbach, I’ll be sure to spend more time sifting through album files while sipping a cafe latte.

LINKS

http://musicaloffering.com/cafe/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/a-feast-of-pianist-richard-goodes-artistry-and-a-walk-down-memory-lane/

North Berkeley CA, Scarlatti Sonatas, Stained glass

Art, Photography, and Music in perfect harmony

Julie Orchard, an intensely dedicated piano student, presented a glass multimedia mosaic at the Subterranean Arthouse last night that blended well with Domenico Scarlatti’s music.

In the same spirit, the composer’s Sonata in D minor complemented the splendor of Berkeley’s springtime foliage.

LINK:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/an-adult-piano-student-and-stained-glass-artist-has-a-dual-passion/

Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California

Pianists, back pain, and my personal rehab bundled into a BALL

exercise piano room

Eight weeks ago, as I started my scale warm-up routine, I felt sudden, excruciating, spasmodic pain in my lower back, and I couldn’t move in any direction without feeling a knife deeply embedded in my spine. It was an “e-m-e-r-g-e-n-c-y!”that I registered by text message. My Nokia cell was thankfully beside me on the piano bench!

My instant cry for HELP! was ironically heeded by an adult piano student who was, herself, physically compromised– on crutches, to be exact, in a cast from an ankle fracture.

How could she be of any assistance?

The crux of the problem was I couldn’t get to the door, so my rescue was made impossible unless the landlord was successfully contacted.

By miracle, my savior on crutches, tracked her down in the phone book, and she responded like lightning, with a master key.

When everyone arrived, I was glued to the piano bench unable to budge, though in minutes, I managed to force myself down a few inches, suspended between the piano and my computer table.

If anyone dared to move me, I would scream bloody murder!! (An ambulance call would have been a ticket to hell!)

To make a long story short, I had my landlady locate my stash of Ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet and toss one down my throat. Within 45 minutes of ingestion, I was able to slither down onto the floor, and roll around in fetal position to my bedroom.

What then? For the next 5 hours, I lay on my back, with little hope of getting to the bathroom without risk of falling.

At the 6th hour pain juncture, nature called, and I had no choice but to take the plunge, forcing myself upright as I deep-massaged my lower back.

The pain rose to crescendo level, just as I popped an immobilizing kink. In a shaky vertical position, I now felt an ache, localized to the right side and emanating down my leg.

With reduced pain, I baby-stepped my way to the commode, grabbing furniture, and the wall for support.

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What the docs said..

In aftermath of my acute EMERGENCY, two internists, one by telephone, told me I might have a “bulging disk,” or at worst a herniated one, and I should take Ibuprofen a few times a day; ice pack the area, while doing various upward stretches, when tolerated. They said, my sitting at the piano for long periods crunched my spine. (In an ensuing work-up, a “muscle spasm” was the diagnosis made by a Saudi Arabian Resident who embraced Meditation and Yoga, while she probed my back with supple hands)

A gym trainer who had observed me working out nearly every day at the ‘Y’ took me off machines where I would pull up from a sitting position, same for leg press where I was crunched, and advised upward stretches at frequent intervals, adding that my 3-mile walks every day, were part of the problem. I should do STRETCHES right after completing.

I stuck with the Gravitron, stretching up, and hip rotations, before I DISCOVERED a 65cm Go-Fit ball!

I tried one at the gym, rolling my back over it’s spongy surface, discovering several routines that were comforting. Naturally, in the midst of such long-sought relief, I ordered the big RED ball, and plunged into daily therapeutic exercises.

Here are samples that are life-savers, (set to the music of Scarlatti–my own recordings) so why not share them. I feel like Hell is safely behind me, but just in case, I will roll out the ball every day for a GO!

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LINKS:

A Musical Journey: Scarlatti, Schubert and Chopin

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shirleyk

Scarlatti and Chopin
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shirleyk2

Domenico Scarlatti, Solano Oriental Rug Gallery, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube video, you tube.com, yout tube, youtube.com

Scarlatti adorned

One of the joys of being a new Berkeley resident is exploring my neighborhood and beyond. Solano, a favorite locale, has afforded opportunities to snap photos in fancy shops and intersperse them with my piano music.

Here’s the latest sample that fleshes out the beauty of Scarlatti’s music with its stream of ornaments.

And here played without adornment:

LINKS:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shirleyk
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shirleyk2