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 Messages

like to introduce myself Joe Townley
Wed Jan 30 2002 23:53
Hello everybody out there in classical land. I'm Joe Townley, a writer and pianist. I used to be a pianist and writer but a hand injury took care of that. But I still play. I'm setting up a website now that will include my books and a couple of RealPlay videos of me playing. My fav composer, without a doubt: Machranonoff, ooops I mean Rachmaninoff. I'm trying to get his Prelude in B-flat ready for the video but it's a struggle. The fingers just don't want to move like they used to. My novel, "On Ghost Trails" is coming out in March. Hope it's a big success. So who like Rachmaninoff around here? Piano Concerto #2 anyone? I just heard Helene Grimaud's new recording with Ashkenazy. Lovely girl. Very talented pianist. Any body a fan of hers besides me? Love to hear from you. BTW, my e-mail is jtownl@aol.com Amity.
 
re: like to introduce myself serenade13
Thu Jan 31 2002 02:55
Hello. Yes, not one of my top favorites but I do like Rachmaninoff. I have a recording of Rach. playing his own 2nd Piano Concerto. It's awesome! In spite of the very poor sound quality of the old recording I'm spoiled by this performance. I also recently got a 3 CD set of Rachmaninoff's music for unaccompanied choir, and I really love that one. I'm going to look for more of his music for voice.

Lynn
 
re: like to introduce myself Joe Townley
Thu Jan 31 2002 07:00
Hi Lynn,

Now I know you're going hit me for saying this (head's okay cuz there's nothing in there, but not the hands, pulleeezzz!!) but Rachmaninoff is not a good artist for listening to his music. I'll explain: Rocky was probably THEE most technically proficient pianist of this century (ooops we're in the next century - forgot) so his performaces are so perfect technically it hurts. BUT! He was so self conscious about displaying any romantic nuances that his performances are almost devoid of emotion. He could write the most romantic music we know for the piano yet he could not bring that romanticism out. My advice; if you want to hear all the romance the #2 has to offer, check out Alexis Weissenberg's performance with Karajan (if it's still avilable) The second movement will bowl you over! Talk to you soon.
 
re: like to introduce myself serenade13
Thu Jan 31 2002 13:40
Interesting. That's probably why I like it. :-) I've noticed that I usually like performances that other people say are "too perfect." (how can anything be TOO perfect?!) But performances that everyone praises for being so emotional just seem to me like self-indulgent showing off. So....I guess I'm just weird, huh?

 
re: like to introduce myself Judge Jules
Thu Jan 31 2002 21:46
No, Lynn, you're not. This just goes to show how individual this listening business is, because I'd have made a VERY different comparison between Rachmaninov and Weissenberg from the one Joe makes. When I hear Weissenberg's performances, far too often I hear him overlay his personality on the music to the detriment of the latter, which I have never found with Rachmaninov - who I feel is an absolutely peerless interpreter of his own music, because there is plenty of emotion there but it just doesn't gush out all over the sides of the piece. That moderation is absolutely central to the music itself in my view - Rachmaninov was a complex man and his music follows suit.
 
re: like to introduce myself Judge Jules
Thu Jan 31 2002 21:48
No, Lynn, you're not. This just goes to show how individual this listening business is, because I'd have made a VERY different comparison between Rachmaninov and Weissenberg from the one Joe makes. When I hear Weissenberg's performances, far too often I hear him overlay his personality on the music to the detriment of the latter, which I have never found with Rachmaninov - who I feel is an absolutely peerless interpreter of his own music, because there is plenty of emotion there but it just doesn't gush out all over the sides of the piece. That moderation is absolutely central to the music itself in my view - Rachmaninov was a complex man and his music follows suit.
 
re: like to introduce myself Joe Townley
Fri Feb 1 2002 04:30
Hi Lynn and hello Judge Jules. I think your point is well taken, Judge. Some find an ocean of emotional fulfillment in Rach's performances. I guess I'm one of those who is left cold. When a piece of music is played as fast as is humanly possible (and Rach was SUPERhuman as a pianist) then I'm just left with an empty feeling. Weissenberg once remarked that he hates these pianists who gush emotion all over the keyboard and I too think it can be overdone. But I find in Weissenberg's performance a rare balance of virtuosity mixed with just the right amount of lingering on a beautiful melodic line. The converto with Weissenberg/Karajan is available on video, BTW in live concert.

Lynn< I checked out that site and you're right! Boy, do those people know their stuff! Where else could you find a discussion that stretches for twenty post in one day on the aesthetics of tonality/atonality? Re being weird. No. don't think so at all. The Judge summed it up best about finding a subtle type of emotion in Rach's playing. Maybe that just shows my lack of musical instinct because I've listened to Rach play his concertos a number of times and he takes the tempos faster than Horowitz's 1930-something recording with Albert Coates in live performance. It's interesting that Horowitz has a severe memory slip in the third movement's recap section but recovers admirably. I do like Rach's performance of his Pagannini Rhapsody. I think he mellowed out by that time and asked himself "What's the rush?" How are you on Chopin? I play his First Piano concerto - absolutely marvelous (course I make a lot of mistakes and have nto slow the tempos a bit. But if it's good enough for Emil Gilels, it's good enough for me. I listen to Rubinstein do the second movement of Chopin's Second concerto and see a beautiful moonlit night on a lake with weeping willows hanging down and two lovers in shiloulette in a boat, their heads together as they drift along the water. I'm trying to get up the umph to sit down and learn it. It can almost be played as a solo nocturne. If you haven't heard those two concertos of Chopin I'd recommend Gilels' version of the First and Rubinstein's of the Second.
 
re: like to introduce myself serenade13
Fri Feb 1 2002 14:42
Actually that "tonality vs. atonality" argument has been going on over there for years. If anyone else is interested you can email me at lynnsislo@yahoo.com

I've never gotten into Chopin all that much. I have only been listening to classical music for about the last 10 years and SERIOUSLY into it for about the last 5 or 6 years, and under the influence of people on various message boards I've gone off in some strange directions and not really explored all of the giants of classical music. There's no method to my madness; I just sort of follow my impulses. Of the little Chopin I've heard I like his shorter pieces better. I do have the Sonatas and hardly ever listen to them. I like the Nocturnes and Preludes better but, strangely, I've only heard a few of those on the radio. I haven't gotten around to buying a recording yet.

As a whole, the Romantic era is the least interesting to me although there are a number of composers from that era that I do like a lot, especially Dvorak.
 
re: like to introduce myself Judge Jules
Fri Feb 1 2002 21:29
Joe, if you can make a decent stab at playing the Chopin concertos I take off my hat to you! I'm very fond of both of them, especially no.1, though I don't think they're the greatest things Chopin ever wrote. As far as his solo repertoire is concerned I'm with Lynn in ranking other pieces (in my case the Ballades above all, followed closely by the Scherzos) over the Sonatas in terms of listening pleasure. Not that I don't like the Sonatas - what's not to like? - but at times I find them easier to admire than to fall in love with, unlike the First and Fourth Ballades, say, or the First and Third Scherzos.

Altenative possibilities for recordings of the concertos in my book would be Pollini for no.1 - in his later years he's become too cerebral for my taste a lot of the time, but he deserved the Chopin prize for this performance - and Zimerman in no.2. There's some wonderful playing in Argerich's version of no.1, but also too many self-indulgent little accelerandi for my taste. And there's a very fine version on the label put out by the UK radio station Classic FM by a young Croatian (I think) pianist called Aleksandar Madzar which is well worth hearing.
 
re: like to introduce myself Joe Townley
Sun Feb 3 2002 03:09
To Judge Jules and Lynn:

Well, you might get a chance to judge my playing for yourselves. I'm trying to work up the first movement of the Chopin concerto #1 to put on my website as a RealPlay video in edited form, just playing it as a solo (which is not hard to do, actually since the piano dominates the scene except for the orchestral tutti's.
As to the solo pieces, yes the middle scale works are Chopin's strongest. The sonatas I think are more for pianists who really love the pianistic things Chopin does in there. Most pianists say Chopin only wrote two sonatas anyway, and for the pianist, they are glorious.

So Lynn, who are your favorite composers besides Mozart? What's your favorite period? How about you, Judge?
 
re: like to introduce myself Judge Jules
Sun Feb 3 2002 10:57
Apart from Mozart, Chopin himself is one of my two second favourites as the piano's my first instrument (I dabble in the guitar too) and Chopin is my favourite composer of piano music. The other runner-up is Bach, who IMO is as often misunderstood ("mathematical" my eye!) as Mozart.

Other than that, I love the usual suspects: Beethoven, Schubert (another one whose general reputation, as easy-going, I find incomprehensible - for my money he's easily the darkest of the great composers), Handel (was there ever a greater tunesmith, Mozart included?), Brahms (his Violin Concerto is the one piece that's been on my Desert Island list longer than any other, once again Mozart included), Haydn. Other enthusiasms include Scarlatti, Albinoni (far more melodically interesting than Vivaldi for me), Rachmaninov (ANOTHER composer whose reputation in some quarters, as a slushy Romantic this time, doesn't tell a fraction of the story), Dvorak and Albeniz - whom I try to play on both instruments, and I have to say he sounds best on the guitar for me.

I also like exploring the byways of the Russian repertoire - Kalinnikov (not primarily a melodist but a master of harmony and atmosphere), Lyapunov (the best of his stuff is drop-dead gorgeous), Balakirev (lovely 1st Symphony and some wonderful piano music). And I have a soft spot for the turn of the 19trh/20th century American composer George Whitefield Chadwick - try "Noel" from his "Symphonic Sketches" and I defy you not to melt.
 
re: like to introduce myself serenade13
Sun Feb 3 2002 17:19
Oh....it's so hard to narrow it down to just a few. I love Dvorak. His Stabat Mater is probably my favorite piece.

Bach - I especially love his solo works; the Cello Suites, the Goldberg Variations and other keyboard works. I prefer to hear them played on the harpsichord.

I like Vivaldi a lot. My favorite of his music is the Concerto in G for Two Mandolins. The recording by Takashi and Sylvia Ochi with the Paul Kuentz Chamber Orchestra is out of this world! The second movement is unbelievably tender and intimate. I like Albinoni's oboe concerti, especially the D minor Op. 9 #2.

Beethoven, of course. I love all of his symphonies and piano concerti. I've barely begun to explore Haydn but I love what I've heard so far. Schubert - there's a lot of Schubert that I haven't heard but I love the Unfinished Symphony and some of his little piano pieces.

I just got a 5 disc set of Palestrina that I like very well. And (would you believe) Hildegard of Bingen - a 12th century composer who is the earliest composer whose biography is known.
http://www.classicalhub.com/composers/hildegard.html

I've sampled the music of a few 20th century composers. Much of it is fascinating in a way. I won't get into that here. Maybe I'll start another thread on that subject later.

I could go on and on. Those are the the first that come to mind. I'm sure I will be 'hanging around' this site a lot and I'll bring up others as I think of them. :-)

Lynn
 
re: like to introduce myself Joe Townley
Tue Feb 5 2002 17:40
Lynn and Judge Jules:

I applaud your wide diversity of musical tastes in the classics. That's one of the problems with pianists. We frequently pigeonhole ourselves because the best music for the piano started getting written for the piano about the late classical age. Consequently, Renaissance and Boroque music often is completely unknown to pianists who specialize in romantic period music. I'd probably have tremendous difficulty differentiating Vivaldi from Verdi (just kidding, I'm not not that bad off, but just to make a point) You've both inspired to go to my local library and delve into some of the earlier periods, maybe even a little modern (though not avant-garde).
 
re: like to introduce myself mcdade
Mon Feb 18 2002 13:36
I know I'm joining this discussion rather late so apologies if I end up covering stuff that has been said already.

I am always interested in other people's suggestions as to new repertoire - I always like to push at the edges of what I listen to.

One of the most recent delights I have discovered is the viol music of Purcell. Really splendid stuff.

Delighted that someone else is banging the drum for Palestrina - the grandaddy of all polyphony!

I thought I'd throw in a few recommendations based on earlier comments (and hope they don't end up sounding patronising):

For Vivaldi there is nothing finer than L'estro armonico. For Haydn I have to do a sales job for Colin Davis' superb London symphonies with the Concertgebouw which transcend time or taste but if you're intertested in something in the Haydn line a bit off the beaten track how about his Trauer symphony - will banish the cosy image of Papa Haydn forever!

 


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