Nostalgia department: in 1963, my Mother & Step-Father took me to the Dayton (Ohio) Philharmonic Orchestra (on a school night!), my first experience with live classical music. I distinctly remember the part where the musicians “tuned up” their instruments, thinking that was part of the work which was subsequently performed: Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). It was to be my introduction to “classical” music and it was memorable. Of course, I knew nothing of its history, that it was a riot causing sensation when it premiered (as a ballet) 50 years before in Paris, that it was to become one of the most monumental and influential musical works of the 20th Century, I just thought all classical music must be AWESOME! Two takes on the work:
Leonard Bernstein & the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (probably from the 1960s), a treat to watch Bernstein conduct:
And, interestingly, Stravinsky wrote a version for piano (2 performers, 4 hands, 1 piano) which was published about a year before the Orchestral/Ballet version (one can only imagine what it was like to hear Stravinsky and Claude Debussy performing it to an unsuspecting audience in 1912). Here is a stunning performance by Dutch Brothers Lucas & Arthur Jussen:
Despite being nearly totally deaf, Beethoven managed to compose what has been termed the Mount Everest of piano literature, completing the work in 1818 at age 48. It’s a massive work, containing generous amounts of Beethovian turbulence, a moving (& bluesy) slow section lasting almost 20 minutes and…, a fugue!
I offer Yuja Wang’s incredibly focused performance at Carnegie Hall in May 2016.
Somewhere between a cello and a violin there is the viola, and wow, here’s a soulful performance that showcases that oft neglected instrument. Of course I’ve heard the orchestral score, the 10 pieces transcribed for solo piano, seen the ballet, but this take really nails the robust and moving score by Sergei Prokofiev. Performed by Maxim Rysanov (viola) & Da Sol Kim (piano).
The Danish National Symphony Orchestra gives an awesome live performance of the theme from Sergio Leone’s classic western “A Fistful of Dollars” (staring Clint Eastwood) composed by the great Ennio Morricone. Is that great or what? Want more? Here’s a performance of the theme from “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly” !
Written in 1890 by Claude Debussy for solo piano. The harpist here, Valeria Kurbatova, arranges the work for solo harp. Simply beautiful. Gratitude. Peace.
* rev·er·ie : a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream.
By the talented & prolific (on YouTube, at least!) Nahre Sol.
I was truly moved the other night on Stephen Colbert! The combination of Bill Murray at his ironic best and the absolute top notch classical musicians headed by cellist Jan Vogler make magic! Puerto Rico !!!
Young Polish pianist Krzysztof Książek performs the work with great delicacy. From a performance at the 2015 International Chopin Competition. Prepare to be mesmerized.
Here’s a great little gem of a video featuring famously eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould performing Bach’s Keyboard Concerto #1 in D minor along with Leonard Bernstein conducting the orchestra. Bernstein introduces the performance with a brief talk about interpretation in musical performance, quite instructive and fascinating in itself. Gould performs with precision and clarity in this 1960 television broadcast.
A highlight of watching the Emmy Awards show last night for me was this Audi commercial, depicting the birth and death of a tear drop. Bravo!