Davies Hall, piano,

A worthwhile Journey to George Li’s triumphant Davies Hall piano recital

Facebook was abuzz with reminders of George Li’s touchdown in the Bay Area’s glittering Davies concert hall, a venue that absorbs a splash of pastel beams from the neighboring flagship government building. Glass panels reflect back montages of color that provide a rush of excitement for ticket holders slipping into seats right under the bell.

FB “friends” and faithful George “followers” were PAGE alerted to a MEET and GREET event in the lobby following the recital. It would be a shower of support for a pianist we’d seen and heard by LIVE-Stream from exotic locations including Moscow and Verbier. Frames in progress had included George’s Silver Medal triumph at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, magnified on computer screens around the world!

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The Back Story

From my humble perch in Berkeley, I’d set aside 75 conscientious minutes to get to Davies Hall. It was a conservative travel measure, given lax Sunday train schedules and my propensity to get mired in Civic Center traffic as a clueless pedestrian in foreign urban terrain. (San Francisco’s maze of complex street crossings and intersections, bundled in congestion, had always seriously confused me, impeding on-foot progress in any direction).

Yet, despite well-intended, precautionary travel efforts, I couldn’t have anticipated a vexing single platform BART crisis that launched a crescendo of complications right up to my shaky finish line arrival at Davies. There, at its entrance, my concert companion/adult piano student stood patiently, dispatching block-to-block text messages to keep me on track.

With good luck and concerted teamwork, we made it to our first tier balcony seats just as George advanced toward a shining model D Steinway grand.

It was a pure bliss erasure of prior travails:

Melted deceptive cadences rippled through a crystalline rendering of Haydn’s B minor Sonata (No. 30) as trills and ornaments immaculately decorated clear melodic lines in a liquid outpouring of phrases. The middle Minuet movement was charmingly played passing with grace to a culminating Presto in brisk, bravura tempo with unswerving attention to line, shape, and contour.

Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata in F minor, op. 57, followed with tonal variation and keen structural awareness. The performance was both gripping and directional, wrapped in ethereal tonal expression.

Li’s singular sound autograph permeates his performances amidst an array of varying nuances and articulations. He has what pianist, Uchida terms “charisma” and a singular tonal personality.

Meaning and musical context are core ingredients of Li’s artistry and his wide palette of colors are at his liquid disposal through deeply felt effusions of expression. (While Li is a natural, intuitional performer, his sensitive fusion of aesthetics and intellect is always on display, exposed, as well in media interviews.)

A Presto Classical set of queries elicited thoughtful responses.

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/interview/1893/George-Li-Live-at-the-Mariinsky

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The Davies Hall recital, continued after Intermission with a rippling roll-out of works by Rachmaninoff and Liszt, all imbued with a permeating spirit of mature music-making that’s intrinsic to Li’s ongoing ripening process. And as a cap to a memorable evening of inspired artistry, George played his final encore–a pyro-technically charged Bizet/Carmen transcription that drove listeners to their feet in a chorus of BRAVOS!!! (This snapshot was provided by a friend who had permission to publicly post it, thanks to Li’s generosity and that of his representatives)

In a culminating MEET and GREET event, post-recital, audience members had an opportunity to share IN PERSON enthusiasm and appreciation of George’s artistry, while purchasing the artist’s newly released CD.

For me, a tete a tete with George, provided an opportunity to thank him for his generosity as a teen when he delivered well-conceived responses to my reams of technically framed questions about practicing, technique, and repertoire.

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/my-interview-with-george-li-a-seasoned-pianist-at-16/

Finally, here’s an encore of gratitude to George for his inspired love of music, and for his reach into our hearts with each memorable performance. Come back soon!

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Haydn on the harpsichord or piano? (Competition interlude)

elaineshandshubbardScreen Shot 2015-06-27 at 5.07.40 PMElaine Comparone insists that playing Haydn’s works on the harpsichord stirs her “imagination to new heights.”

The harpsichordist’s upload of Haydn’s eloquent Sonata No. 52 in Eb Major ironically paralleled Reed Tetzloff’s piano performance in Moscow which introduces an aesthetic comparison or two.

Reed’s You Tube channel features the opening Allegro movement, https://youtu.be/q6l2qguKhik
while his complete sonata rendering can be replayed on Medici: Round one, XV Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. (Start at 6:30 in track: the second offering on the grid that follows his Bach selection)

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-1-piano-2015-06-18-1550000300-great-ha

Elaine’s inspired performance of the towering late Haydn sonata is worth an attentive ear to detail in anticipation of her astute comments about playing the composer’s masterpiece on the harpsichord.

“In the late 18th century the pianoforte gradually replaced the harpsichord, but the original editions of almost all of Beethoven’s keyboard sonatas up to Opus 27 (1800-1801) bear the inscription: “Pour le Clavecin ou Pianoforte” (“For the Harpsichord or Piano”). Haydn prescribes harpsichord for his solo keyboard sonatas as late as his E minor Sonata (H. XVI: 34) first published in 1784. In letters from March and April of 1789 he refers to his C Major “Clavier” Sonata (“keyboard” sonata—a generic designation) and he includes a middle movement with the title “Adagio per Clavicembalo o Piano-Forte” (“Adagio for Harpsichord or Pianoforte”).

“All this shows that harpsichords were still widely used around 1800 and that music publishers were eager to accommodate the players and owners of the older instruments as well as those of the more modern ones. Haydn’s keyboard music is stylistically interchangeable between harpsichord and piano, except for the slight proliferation of dynamic directions absent in most harpsichord music. (Modern, non-urtext editions add many more dynamic markings than Haydn’s original ones.)

“Why not merely play and record these pieces on a piano? As a harpsichordist, my major argument is that it has been done many times in the “modern” era. Why not try a fresh approach? The harpsichord has a sound with unique acoustical qualities not shared by either modern or early pianos. I do not regard “early music” as the sole property of those who play antique instruments or modern replicas. Pianists who play modern grand pianos clearly share my opinion as is evidenced by their many performances and recordings of music by Bach. But, at the same time, their performances of Mozart, Haydn and even Beethoven are farther away from the aural imaginings of these composers than harpsichord performance might be. Harpsichord sound stirs my imagination as piano sound never did. That is why I try to play whatever music lends itself to the instrument. As long as it is idiomatic, I will play it!”

After listening to Elaine and Reed’s performances, make your own judgment about what is pleasing the ear and why.

Finally, I asked Maestra Comparone why she chose to “sit this one out,” since she’s well-known for standing at the harpsichord:

“Standing at the harpsichord was a pose requiring an audience.
#1. It added to the complexity of the harpsichord move.
#2. I had four sonatas to record. Standing requires more energy. I had to save energy, not to expend it needlessly.

“Standing was useful when I played LIVE with the entire QCB (Queen’s Chamber Band). Elevating the instrument aided in projection. My colleagues preferred to stand when possible so we all liked to be on the same level.

“In a recording session, the instrument didn’t have to be elevated to be better seen or heard. The camera and recording equipment took care of that. Also, if it had been elevated, it would have been next to impossible to accomplish overhead shots of the keyboard, so we all agreed that simplicity was the key to a smooth and successful recording session.”

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LINKS
ELAINE COMPARONE
http://www.harpsichord.org

https://www.youtube.com/user/ecomparone

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/aglow-with-creative-fire-my-nyc-visit-with-harpsichordist-elaine-comparone/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/a-visit-with-elaine-comparone-at-her-harpsichord-palace-in-new-york-city/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/the-harpsichord-has-a-new-lease-on-life-elaine-comparone-is-its-biggest-advocate/

REED TETZLOFF
You Tube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgfaN5SV7Wq5Mgb37khY7ZQ

Tetzloff REPLAYS Round 2 (Tchaikovsky Competition)

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-2-piano-2015-06-21-1630000300-great-ha

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-2-piano-2015-06-24-1830000300-great-ha

Andras Schiff, Andreas Schiff piano recital, piano blog, piano blogging, San Francisco Davies Hall, Shirley Kirsten

Andras Schiff in recital at S.F. Davies Hall (Feb. 15, 2015)

Schiff program Feb. 15

Pianist, Andras Schiff delivered an uneven performance at San Francisco’s Davies Hall yesterday afternoon.

Those who expected the pianist to play his signature Bach program were pleasantly surprised by Schiff’s insertions of self-imposed Baroque style ornaments in Mozart’s “Drawing Room” Sonata, K. 545.(in particular) As whimsical as it might have seemed, the “improvisation” was out of character with the era and the composer.

(Perhaps audiences might have liked something “different” as Glenn Gould often chanted.)

While I hadn’t managed to snatch the Allegro which was by far the movement most subjected to shifty Schiff’s impish escapades, he still gave his audience a tweaked version of the finale, Rondo: Allegretto, inserting an elaborate cadenza in the space of a modest rest.

In the middle Andante movement, Schiff chose a rather brisk tempo that didn’t encompass a mournful shift to the pathos-filled g minor section.

Yet, Schiff’s offerings that included the works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were satisfying, despite his waffling approach.

Tonally, he lightened up to the point of losing a visceral connection to the piano. It was often powderpuff, skimming-the-surface playing, alternated with a sudden intensity that never quite took hold for the length needed.

The Beethoven Sonata in E Major, Op. 109 was a case in point. While it had an appealing, expressively played opening, Schiff failed to communicate the composer’s extremes in temperament/dynamics. Instead, he took a reserved and risk-free route. To my surprise, a sudden, well-sought character transformation occurred in Schubert’s powerful C minor Sonata that brought the period and composer into clearer focus.

Schiff’s Schubert’s Impromptu in Eb, Op. 90, (an encore) was spun out gracefully, though with an inner voice emphasis that at times, was more contrapuntal than Romantic. In one set of measures, the pianist created a syncopated accent that I found jarring, wondering why he had chosen that particular bass note nuance. Yet in the fabric of the whole performance, he mesmerized an audience that cheered him from opening measure to final cadence.

Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, wordpress.com

Lettin’ go to Presto without crashin’

First, here’s my good luck charm: a keyboard bracelet that a former adult student made for me. I have a pic when it looked spiffier but time has taken its toll.

keyboard bracelet

Perhaps wearing this wrist trinket helped me advance my Haydn Sonata finale to Presto without a crash and burn, but it’s more likely that my slow, baby-step practicing did the job.

Today, I spot practiced, to fine tune measures that had some finger traps in brisk pace. (Video 1)

In video 2, I played through part of the Development, where right and left hand divide a fast melody in rapid 16ths. This is a section I had parceled out in a previous blog posting, blocking first, then unraveling it slowly while shaping the line.

Haydn tricky passage finale

Haydn p. 2 tricky passage finale, presto

It appears that my fingering revisions worked in peak tempo which tells me the choices were right. (These decisions are often based upon what suits one’s hands in many cases, so don’t always trust the Editor)

Most of all, BREATHE though a Presto movement, and think SLOW while playing fast.

P.S. And how about taking this keyboard belt and bracelet into the SPEED ZONE the next time around!
keyboard belt

Foundational practicing techniques for Haydn Sonata No. 52, Finale: Presto

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/the-value-and-application-of-slow-piano-practicing/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/piano-technique-is-about-flexibility-not-finger-strength/

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Heart Attacks and Haydn!

Haydn heart attack largerHaydn D Major

I couldn’t help but chuckle at a stream of advertising overlapping my Haydn D Major, Hoboken XVI 37 Sonata: “FOUR SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK”

The Google ad, as it ran, uncannily tracked KILLER passages in this composition that would pose a risk to cardiovascular health (Especially the brutal contrapuntal bass line in the Development section) Or any number of Fortissimo, careening diminished chord figures!

Just minutes before, as I first reviewed the posting (freshly imported to You Tube) a DEMENTIA WARNING plagued my reading. OK so I had to use my music on this one, but was it a predictor of a complete memory breakdown in the offing?

It could have been worse if my Haydn triggered the FACEBOOK UNFRIEND ad! By clicking it, I would have an instant heart attack finding out who had abandoned me!

That would not be as shocking as an ARREST record stream–though ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT applied to the Haydn RECAPITULATION if murdered.

OOPS! I noticed these malignant, if not criminal ads rotate, so I can’t easily pin ’em down!

A poor little girl named “McKenna” had a Blue and Orange Google Ad BLINKING madly through her Haydn Sonata No. 48 In C Major, causing two memory lapses.
“YOUR ARREST RECORD IS ONLINE–CLICK HERE TO VIEW”

The DEMENTIA ad probably was more suitable for this track.

What am I saying? The child was about 7, and yes, I know about DNA markers and Alzheimer predictors, but these AD purveyors should get a life!

What’s this world coming to?

Bottom line, it’s not the MP3 revolution that’s killing Classical Music, but GOOGLE Adware that’s run rampant over J.S. Bach, Papa Haydn, W.A. Mozart and their forebears.

How about a call for WORLD PIECE! (spelling intended)

Let’s dedicate one SACRED DAY to posting our You Tubes without health and well-being ALERTS!

And while we’re at it, let us purge arrest records of You Tubers around the globe with a blanket Writ of Habeas Corpus.

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LINK:

Haydn Unpinned! and matters of Memorization


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/the-haydn-sonata-in-c-unpinned-and-matters-of-memorization/