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Debussy

This tag is associated with 21 posts

It’s so hard to face an empty piano bench

Somebody posted a link to this video on Twitter (was it you? I bet it was you!), but the original link’s embed code wouldn’t work. Luckily I was able to dig it up on YouTube, and with Spanish subtitles, no less! Now you can improve your language skills while pondering why it’s so hard to face an empty page, and it’s so hard to face an empty piano bench.

For the full video in one piece, check it out here.

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And now for an installment of People You Didn’t Expect to Hear from Here.

Concert Roundup (Snow)flakes Out

Hey, you know how it was supposed to snow today? Well, it IS! Right now! As I type! You could knock me over with one of those long tickly things that birds use for insulation and flight. Nevertheless, music marches on undaunted! At least so far. Check individual symphony websites for inclement weather schedule changes and what have you. Okay, onward!

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra knows how to get on my good side; they’re playing the best. Symphony. Of all time. OF ALL TIME! Yes, it’s Beethoven‘s Seventh, with a side of Debussy‘s Petite Suite and the Strauss (Reek-ard) oboe concerto. But mostly Beethoven. Always mostly Beethoven. March 7 & 8 at the Meyerhoff; March 9 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra isn’t going to give this week to the BSO without a fight, though. They promise Mahler (ooh!), Schubert (OOOOH!!!!!!!), and … Mozart (oh). But it’s Mozart’s Requiem, so it’s actually kind of awesome, and among the Schubert lieder they’re busting out? “ERLKONIG!” I LOVE “Erlkonig”! Good times. March 7 – 9. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreChinese acrobats, a piano/sax jazz combo, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Clawed Debussy

In the end, he was a wise man.

All Concert Roundups Go to Heaven

  • Want to know what music sounds like in heaven? Then join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for Elgar‘s cello concerto as performed by Sol Gabetta, and Liszt‘s – get ready for a shot of irony – Mephisto Waltz. Also Franck, who by inference is in hell with the rest of them. November 29 at Strathmore; November 30 and December 1 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • And! If you’re into interior decorating and holiday gift shopping, the BSO presents their “Symphony Homes for the Holidays,” where you can shop through several fully decorated and stuff-filled historic homes with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the orchestra. November 29 – December 1. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, over in National Symphony Orchestra land, the NSO confused me with Syzmanowski, tries my patience with a Mozart piano concerto, and then soothes my fevered brow with Ravel‘s Mother Goose Suite and Debussy‘s La Mer. November 29 – December 1. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Retro-modern lounge music, retro-retro pop, and (BLEH! … I mean, what?) smooth jazz. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

I just want you to be prepared

Hey, remember a month or two ago how I picked out some Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts that tickled my particular fancy? Let’s do the same thing for Strathmore, which offers such a dizzying array of concerts over the course of the season that I’m sure attempting to process it all can be daunting. Never fear – I’ve picked out all the classical concerts that have so far been announced, so you’ll know what not to miss in advance. You’re quite welcome.

  • Duo Amaral, Oct 12 – Classical guitar featuring composers like Rodrigo and Albeniz.
  • Guido’s Ear, Oct 18 – Pre- and early Baroque – think Monteverdi, Zanetti, Merula.
  • Dali Quartet, Oct 28 – Spice things up with some Latin American chamber music.
  • Jennifer Koh’s Bach and Beyond, Part 1 (Nov 14) and Part 2 (Feb 28) – Bach violin partitas and sonatas mixed with newer works influenced by the great composer.
  • George Li, Jan 12 – A prodigal pianist, playing Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin.
  • China National Symphony, Feb 1 – A bunch of new works by Chinese composers plus BEETHOVEN’S SEVENTH SYMPHONY.
  • Mattias Jacobsson, Mar 21 – The classical guitarist plays the Bach Lute Suites.
  • Kristin Lee, April 4 – Gershwin’s Three Preludes on the violin! Fun!
  • Cameron Carpenter, April 12 – Well. I dare say I’ll never look at the organ quite the same way again.
  • Maurizio Pollini, April 14 – As if I needed to introduce this one. Not sure what he’s playing, but my money’s on some Chopin.
  • Marian Anderson String Quartet, April 25 – Prize-winning and Dvorak-playing. Nice.
  • Mak Grgic, May 9 – Another classical guitarist, this one has put together a bunch of neato transcriptions of works written by Ravel, Debussy, Brahms, and more, plus traditional guitar pieces.

So there you have it – all the straight-up classical music programs in the Strathmore season. SO FAR. Don’t worry; I’ll keep you apprised of these and other concerts as the year goes by. Good heavens, is it almost autumn already?

Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER

Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?

* denotes the winner of the match

ROUND ONE

  1. Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky*
  2. Debussy* vs. Ravel
  3. Dvorak vs. Copland*
  4. Britten* vs. Holst
  5. Rimsky-Korsakov* vs. Mussourgsky
  6. Grieg* vs. Sibelius
  7. Schumann vs. Brahms*
  8. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rachmaninoff
  9. Mahler* vs. Wagner
  10. Monteverdi vs. Verdi*
  11. Schoenberg* vs. Berg
  12. Bernstein vs. Gershwin*
  13. Handel* vs. Haydn
  14. Chopin* vs. Liszt
  15. Bartok* vs. Shostakovich
  16. Saint-Saens* vs. Khachaturian

ROUND TWO

  1. Stravinsky* vs. Debussy
  2. Copland* vs. Britten
  3. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rimsky-Korsakov
  4. Bartok* vs. Schoenberg
  5. Saint-Saens vs. Grieg*
  6. Brahms* vs. Mahler
  7. Verdi* vs. Handel
  8. Gershwin* vs. Chopin

ROUND THREE

  1. Stravinsky* vs. Bartok
  2. Copland vs. Tchaikovsky*
  3. Verdi vs. Gershwin*
  4. Grieg vs. Brahms*

ROUND FOUR

  1. Brahms* vs. Stravinsky
  2. Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky*

ROUND FIVE (PLAY-IN ROUND)

  1. Tchaikovsky vs. Mozart*
  2. Beethoven* vs. Brahms

ROUND SIX

Mozart vs. Beethoven

And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…

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Concert Roundup: Wednesday Edition

For some reason I keep thinking it’s Thursday; I almost posted a viola joke. Wishful thinking, I guess.

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra breaks out the BSO Pops with “Music of the Baby Boomers.” So I’m not the target audience. Apparently Frankie Valli is happening; you mean it’s not spelled “Valley”? Live and learn, I guess. May 17 at Strathmore; May 18 – 20 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra counters with a very classical program: a Haydn symphony, a Weill symphony, and the Brahms second piano concerto as performed by Nelson Freire. May 17 – 19. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore, we offer two counts of Debussy, a brass ensemble, and a talented soprano. [ See the calendar! ]

The Legend of the Concert Roundup

No, seriously… what’s going on?

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is making it short but very sweet this week: the Ravel Piano Concerto for Left Hand and Shostakovich‘s seventh symphony (that’s “Leningrad” to you, bub). Oh, hey, guess who’s dropping in to play the Ravel? Oh, some guy named Leon Fleisher. No biggie. May 3 & 6 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you prefer, the BSO offers its Off the Cuff version of the Shostakovich; in addition to playing the symphony, Marin Alsop will explain its musical form and cultural context. May 4 at Strathmore; May 5 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • I said hey-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah! The National Symphony Orchestra‘s NSO Pops take on a Marvin Gaye program, because why the hell not? With John Legend, no less. Now that’s some competitive booking. May 3 & 4. [ See it! ]
  • The NSO also offers a children’s concert this week, focusing on brass instruments with Brass of Peace. Is that a pun? None of the ones I’m coming up with are appropriate for children. May 5. [ See it! ]
  • The University of Maryland is performing Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, but for the life of me I can’t find the info. UMD, if you’re out there, ping me the details and I’ll update this post.
  • This week at Strathmore, we’ve got jazz singers John Pizzarelli and Kurt Elling, an all-Debussy piano program, country-rock singer Owen Danoff, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. [ See the calendar! ]

See the music, hear the dance

“See the music, hear the dance,” says Balanchine. This is important.

I took a choreography course as an elective in grad school. It was not a wholly successful venture, as we performed our own works and I am not always entirely at home with being Under Scrutiny, but I do think I improved my skills.

We always talked through our pieces, about what was working and what wasn’t, and the professor gave some insight into her own struggles. One such issue was her sometimes frustration with finding a piece of music she desperately wanted to choreograph but being unable to see her way to any steps. A student had set her final dance to such a score – a piano piece by Debussy – and the professor expressed her admiration at the student’s ability to pick up on layers on the music to fuel her steps. “Those are layers I never would have noticed as right to highlight.”

The best dances are those that do not exist outside their music. The dull ones – you know the ones I mean, I’m sure – have choreography that may impress with tricks and spins but have little or no relation to the music being played in the background. It’s just a beat, or a collection of lyrics meant to do all the work of explaining the purpose of the dance so that the dancer and choreographer don’t have to bother with it (there are rare exceptions to this).

On the flip side, to go back to Balanchine, he didn’t want to choreograph to Beethoven because he felt Beethoven’s music needed no further augmentation. Similarly, there are dances that are created without music at all.

If they want to play, music and dance must do more than play nice with each other. They must complement each other, and find the new layers.

Thoughts?

For more on this, you might be interested in my interview with Shannon Schwait of CityDance.