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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: piano

Rachmaninoff Documentary - The Harvest Of Sorrow: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Here is the final of four documentaries I've posted in the month of January.  This is a look into the fascinating life of famed pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.  The music alone interspersed throughout is worth the time to watch this.

This documentary is narrated by renowned conductor Valery Gergiev with Rachmaninoff's diary entries read by Academy Award winning actor John Gielgud.

He has quite the life story and knowing his background brings a new depth to his music for me.

Enjoy!


Arthur Rubinstein and the London Symphony Orchestra: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Arthur Rubinstein is one of the piano greats.  Here is a very high quality video of him performing the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 with the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Andre Previn in 1975.  He is 88 years old in this clip and plays beautifully!  It is hard for me to process that this performance is from the year I was born and yet Rubinstein was born in 1887!

He retired from performing only one year later although he lived until the age of 95.  His career is filled with momentous accomplishments.  He was best known as a recitalist and concerto soloist, but he also performed a lot of chamber music with the likes of Jascha Heifetz and Pablo Casals.

You will hear why he is considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.

Enjoy!



Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez & Steve Gadd: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

With a lineup that includes these four guys, there's not really much left to say.  All four of these players could headline on any given night and yet they appeared as a quartet at the Blue Note on April 22, 2003 at the Blue Note in New York City. Chick Corea is one of the greatest creative forces in all of art over the last half century.  The scope of his impact can not be articulated.

Michael Brecker played with everyone from Frank Zappa and Steely Dan to Chet Baker and Charles Mingus.  He appeared on over 700 albums before his death in 2007.

When a bass player has both appeared with the Kronos Quartet and been a member of the Bill Evans Trio on their resume, as Eddie Gomez has, you know they've left quite an imprint on the music business.

Steve Gadd is my favorite drummer of all-time.  The specifically melodic quality he plays with is unique to my ears.  Don't get me wrong, there are tons of drummers I admire, but for me, Gadd stands alone.

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3zJftxoSnk

 

Oscar Peterson Trio: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

If I could play the piano like Oscar Peterson, I would never get off the piano bench.  His ability to solo both vertically and horizontally in such a fluid manner was truly stunning.  I love listening to him periodically sing along with himself in this clip. Ray Brown has always been one of my heroes, someone whose playing I try to emulate when playing bass lines on the tuba.  You then throw in the sweeping phrasing of Ed Thigpen on the drums and you've got one hell of a band.

This version of C Jam Blues was recorded live in Denmark in 1964.  Oh to have been in the crowd on this occasion.  It makes me happy to see that this video has over one million views.

Enjoy!


Links That Make Me Think

Andrew Hitz

I am starting a new feature, Links That Make Me Think, which will simply be a collection of things from around the web that I find thought provoking.  Please feel free to contact me with anything you find (or wrote!) that you feel I might find interesting.  You can contact me through my Facebook page, via Twitter, or email me at hitztuba@gmail.com.  Here's the first set of links: -----

Seth Godin, as usual, nail it with one of his recent blog posts titled "Framers and Polishers". In about 100 words he shows why I would argue you should not necessarily look for people with similar skill sets when forming a chamber ensemble or any other kind of musical venture.

Here's a great article by Dr. Noa Kageyama (from the Bulletproof Musician) where he discusses the benefits of taking "creative pauses" and how they can help you in the practice room: "How to Reduce Practice Room Angst (and Boost Creativity)".

Gerald Klickstein of The Musician's Way discusses what he calls "The Peak-Performance Myth".  He talks about how thorough preparation helps you to overcome and adapt to the varied internal and external situations that are encountered during a performance.

My jazz piano playing friend Ron Davis found a gold mine of piano videos on YouTube.  If you need some inspiration in the practice room, chances are one of these 150 videos of the greatest pianists throughout history can provide you with some!

If you use social media to promote yourself or your ensemble (and if you aren't what are you waiting for?), this article by fellow Phish fan Jon Ostrow from CyberPR gives some great insights into the six biggest platforms: Five Facts About Your Favorite Social Media Platform [Part 1].

Finally, Joe Guarr (who runs weekly music ed chats on Twitter using the hashtag #musedchat) spotted a website that enables you to upload a score and it will auto-generate parts! This seems like science fiction to me.  What a great resource for music educators!

Yuja Wang: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

This past weekend, my wife Tiffany and I traveled to Philadelphia to see the Philadelphia Orchestra perform both Ein Heldenleben and the Wind Serenade of Richard Strauss.  I did not know what the first half of the program until we arrived.  I was delighted to discover that it was Yuja Wang performing Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto.  I had heard wonderful things about her playing and of course always get excited about the prospects of seeing someone perform the piano works of Rachmaninoff. The entire performance was truly stunning.  It was a magical program and the orchestra, from Ricardo Morales in the woodwinds to Carol Jantsch in the brass, sounded absolutely superb.  I have seen hundreds of orchestral performances in my life and this was absolutely near the top of the list.  One of the reasons for this was the breathtaking performance of Yuja Wang to open the program.

Her level of artistry was impressive, both her interpretation and execution.  Here is a clip of her performing another monster of the romantic piano repertoire, Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto.  This performance features Hannu Lintu leading the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in a live performance from Helsinki in 2012.

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!


Van Cliburn Live in Moscow 1972: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Sadly, the music world lost one of the true giants recently.  Harvey Lavan Cliburn, Jr passed away in Fort Worth Texas at the end of February at the age of 78.  Even superlatives fail to truly convey his impact on classical music. Countless young pianists have grown up trying to emulate his sound, his style, his storytelling.  He leaves a legacy that is almost unmatched.  His name is on every single short list of the greatest pianists of all time.  He was a true legend in every sense of the word.

I had never seen this clip of him performing Sergei Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 until now.  This was recorded in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in 1972.  I performed in the Great Hall as a wide-eyed 14 year old visiting the Soviet Union in 1990 with the Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble.  Seeing footage from there is really a trip as I can remember the space well.  It seemed like a place where some important music making had occurred.  I wish I had seen this footage before that concert.  It would have inspired me!

This is a really special clip.  I can't even remember life before YouTube and the ability to watch things like this historic performance from right on my phone.  What an age we live in.

Mr. Cliburn, you are dearly missed.  May you rest in peace.


Monday YouTube Fix: Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown & Ed Thigpen

Andrew Hitz

Oscar Peterson is such a bad man that it's hard to process.  Combine him with one of the best bass players in the world and a drummer with amazing touch and you've got a winner. Tunes don't get much more simple than C Jam Blues.  Couple that with the elegant and transparent instrumentation of a piano trio and it allows for a lot of space for these three gentlemen to operate.  I love the piano breakdowns.  As with any great jazz musician, Oscar keeps grooving his you know what off when the rhythm section drops off.  We classical players can learn a lot from that.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTJhHn-TuDY&feature=related]

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]