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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Beethoven

Dennis Brain: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Many call Dennis Brain the greatest horn player to ever live. The mark that he left on the music world has no signs of fading any time soon.

Effortless is a word I probably use too often to describe the greatest players in the world. But Dennis Brain is possibly the best example I know of from the brass world.

His phrasing is natural to the point that he truly sounds like a vocalist without words.

Here is Dennis Brain performing the Beethoven Horn Sonata.

Enjoy!


William Preucil: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I recently attended a brass masterclass where the teacher asked the students how many of them were familiar with William Preucil.  I was horrified when only two hands went up and one of them was mine.

Preucil has been the concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra since 1989 and has a long resume as both a soloist and chamber musician.  He is the highest paid concertmaster in the world.  Listen to this clip and you will see why.  He sure makes that thing look easy to play.

This is a clip of him performing the Beethoven Violin Sonata in A Minor, Opus 23, at the Brevard Music Center on July 5, 2010.  He is accompanied by Bruce Murray on piano.

Enjoy!


Sir Georg Solti and the London Philharmonic: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Here is a great performance of Beethoven 9 from the 1986 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall featuring the London Philharmonic under the direction of Sir Georg Solti.  The soloists are Jessye Norman, Sarah Walker, Reiner Goldberg and Hans Sotin.  The choir is a combination of The BBC Singers, the London Voices and the Chorus of Welsh National Opera.

Enjoy!


Boston Symphony Orchestra Plays a Chilling Tribute to JFK the Afternoon of his Assassination

Andrew Hitz

Music is more powerful than any of us could ever put into words.  When trying to either convey my own emotions or understand someone else's, I always turn to music. I will never forget seeing the Boston Symphony Orchestra play Mahler's 2nd Symphony in tribute to Leonard Bernstein on the opening night at Tanglewood the summer after he passed away.  There were people crying in the audience and players holding back tears on stage.  That performance expressed what could not be expressed in words, exactly how much Bernstein had meant to the Boston Symphony, to Tanglewood and to American music.

This clip is one of the most chilling I've ever heard.  It is from an afternoon concert of the Boston Symphony on November 22, 1963, one of the most infamous days in American history.  Long before every concertgoer had the internet in their pockets, news was not dispersed to people out and about.  You were either next to a TV, a radio or a wired phone.  As a result, the audience at Symphony Hall that afternoon did not know that President Kennedy had died from gunshot wounds suffered in Dallas.

Music director Erich Leinsdorf addresses the crowd at the beginning of the concert and breaks the news to them.  The audible gasps of panic, confusion and sadness are haunting.  They then play possibly the most passionate performance of the funeral march from Beethoven 3 that's ever been played.

But words do this clip justice.  You need to hear it for yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVNKNz-lc6k

Also, be sure to check out this story from Time Magazine which includes comments from the librarian that day.  He has not been able to bring himself to listen to the above performance even once in the last 50 years.  Incredible stuff.

Arthur Grumiaux: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Simply put, Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986) is one of the great artists of the 20th century.  My favorite aspects of Grumiaux's playing are his interpretations and the evenness of his tone.  Like all of the greats on every instrument, he gets the exact same tone on the shortest notes as he does on the longest ones. He's known in particular for his interpretations of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart amongst other composers.  There is a calm intensity behind every note that he plays which is inspiring.  This is a magnificent performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D.  It was performed at the Salle Pleyel in Paris in 1965.  He is accompanied by the Orchestre National de l'ORTF.

Enjoy!


Isaac Stern, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and the LSO: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I could listen to these three gentlemen play Beethoven indefinitely and never tire of it.  The delicacy that Isaac Stern plays the violin with in this performance is unbelievable, even at the age of 72.  The soaring lyricism of Yo-Yo Ma on the cello is truly inspirational.  And the flow of Emanuel Ax's piano playing is as good as anyone in history. Beethoven is my favorite composer.  If I could only take one composer with me when everything is all said and done, it would be Beethoven.  The brilliant Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello ranks near the very top of my favorite compositions of all time.

(As a side note, imagine playing an instrument that was invented after your favorite composer had already passed away.  I will probably be in therapy for the rest of my life!)

The special thing about musicians who know each other's playing as well as Stern, Ma, and Ax do is that each performance sounds like a private musical conversation which all in attendance get the privilege of overhearing.  The amazing thing about technology is we all get to "attend" this concert 21 years later from our phones if we choose to!

Their communication both with each other and with the London Symphony is special in this clip.  This level of artistry inspires me to go practice every time.

Enjoy!


Monday YouTube Fix: Guarneri String Quartet

Andrew Hitz

Beethoven is my favorite composer of all time which is a cruel joke since he passed away before my instrument was invented! I have always loved how the Guarneri String Quartet has played the Beethoven quartets. They seem to play them with a little bit of teeth to them but also with tons of nuance.  This is a wonderful performance of the first movement of Beethoven's 11th String Quartet in F Minor, Opus 95.  The 16th note runs being passed around are so even and sound so effortless.  They make the not at all easy seem like just that.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaSAdCvzPgU]

Monday YouTube Fix: Wilhelm Kempff

Andrew Hitz

This past week I came upon a very interesting article in Limelight Magazine about the 10 greatest pianists of all time.   It was a very thought provoking piece which also included YouTube clips.  One of the clips that really struck me was of Wilhelm Kemff. I am a sucker for Beethoven all the time and when it is played with this much personality I am a captive audience.  The intensity of this performance is perfectly summed up by the calm yet urgent look in his eyes.  When he hits the recap at the very end of this clip it is done with such a haunting tenderness that chills are almost automatic.  A truly incredible performance.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqSulR9Fymg&sns=em]