On Sturm und drang - Second Movement

Perhaps the spirit of my former piano teacher Irina Ginzburg was hovering as I was filling out my own registration form for the APTA Festival. She would want me to challenge myself. Before I could stop myself, I registered for the Teacher Recital class, which means three songs. It's not too scary, at least, I hope it isn't. It's just that I now have to add two senior level pieces to my practice list (on top of students' songs and gig practice in the wee hours in the night).

I'm pretty happy with my selections. I've been meaning to learn Chopin's Nocturne in e minor, op. 72 #1 for years; ever since I heard it in the Hallmark TV production of The Secret Garden. It's only four pages - however, the return of the A theme is a doozy! I've sightread Bartok's Bagatelle, op. 6 #5 before and find the rhythms catchy. Hey, if I can sightread it - then it's do-able. Both songs are Gr. 10 level, which provides a bit of a challenge without taking too much time. The final selection is Houki Boshi (Comet). It's one of the theme songs from the Japanese show Bleach. I plan on embellishing and improvising a bit, something which I already do with it.

The question is whether or not I will memorize all the songs. I'll play that by ear.

So all in all, not too bad. It's still added sturm und drang though. When to practice?

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Calgary Youth Sparkle at Calgary Concerto Competition

On Sunday, a friend and I attended the Calgary Civic Symphony's concert, featuring the winners from this year's Calgary Concerto Competition. We were simply amazed at the musical maturity these youngsters displayed. At the tender age of 11, Jan Lisieki demonstrated that he could interpret the tender cantabile melodies in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 with sensitivity and maturity. It is no wonder that he has won the Calgary Music Competition three times.

Thirteen year-old TieDan Yao is always a delight to watch. His face reflects the sheer joy he feels about playing. He sparkled with the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1. I enjoyed this performance even more than his playing at the CFMTA National Piano Competition this past summer.

Willem Stam provided a wonderful break from the piano with his interpretation of Dvorak's Concerto for Violncello and Orchestra in B minor. The seventeen year-old proved that he can infuse the melodies with sufficient angst and passion.

Fifteen year-old Eric Kim closed the program with Gershwin's Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra. In her introduction, Maestra Rosemary Thompson, mentioned that Eric plays trombone in his school jazz band. His feel for the jazz idiom was evident in his performance.

It was an inspiring concert, the type that inspires other musicians to try harder. Most of us aren't cut out for the concert stage, but we can always improve.

Copyright 2006, Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

“Romantic Music” Musings

I bet you thought I was going to muse about sappy love songs. Nope. Not here. The Romantic Period (circa 1825 – 1900) saw an increase in nationalism and exoticism in the arts, as well as the themes of unrestrained passion, unrequited love, redemption and flights of fancy.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to and playing Romantic music. It is so easy to get caught up in the swelling melody that gathers speed and volume until it reaches its climax. I love the strurm und drang and rubato, which exemplify turbulent emotions. After the storm, there’s always a moment (or several), in which we are teased. We think we’re at the end of the song, but the composer sends us off into another direction. Then, there’s the penultimate chord. Musicians are taught to push to it and then savour the dissonance. Make the audience crave the resolution.

Frederic Chopin captured the nationalistic flair of his native Poland along with tender and searing melodies. Franz Lizst gave us fiery and brilliant passages that amazed audiences. Johannes Brahms showed us the angst-ridden and frustrated side of romance. You can learn about the music of these Romantic composers and many more at these sites:


© 2006, Musespeak™, Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.