Saturday, December 19, 2009

Would Mozart Have Approved??

Those of you who read my blog know that I consider linear knowledge only a portion of the total picture being pursued; that is, to know of the event or issue and the dates attached and the individual or individuals involved only the beginning of the process we call 'learning' - to add depth to an issue is to enhance the knowledge of that which we are attempting to truly learn about; for example, when I placed the same pieces of the Bach Partitas back-to-back on a CD, each piece performed first by Glenn Gould and then by Angela Hewitt resulted, for me, in a perspective about the difference in tactic of the same music by two great performers from two different places in Time - or when I alternated a piece performed by a great pianist followed by a tune arranged and performed by Art Tatum, which I called The Tatum Project, which came to about four CD's, proving, at least to me, that a Horowitz or a Rachmaninoff or an Art Tatum are all at the same level of genius and accompanying achievement levels. Horowitz himself openly acknowledged his regard of Art Tatum's pianistic genius. Both of the above issues I have already written about, and can be found in my blog by going to the archive section.
Recently I decided to create a "perspective" surrounding Mozart's "Turkish Rondo," and chose three performances by Vladimir Horowitz, Cleo Laine and Arcadi Volodos.
My tactic was to reverse the role of the virtuosity that accompanied Horowitz by recording his encore performance of the Rondo in its original form. I then followed by recording the arrangement of the Rondo by the clarinetist and saxophonist John Dankworth for his wife Cleo Laine. Therein lies the first example, in this little group of three performances, of virtuosity that we usually attach to Horowitz. When Laine begins to 'scat-sing' along with Dankforth on the saxophone, both in unison, and at dizzying speed, it is veritably breath-taking. I have always considered Cleo Laine to be the most gifted of all the pop singers I know.
I end the trio of performances with the transcription of the Rondo by Arcadi Volodos, who also performs it. This young Russian has continued the tradition of the piano transcription which I thought might have ended upon Horowitz's passing in 1989, and, in my view, has actually exceeded the vaunted Horowitz transcriptions in a continued perusal of the possibilities which lie in wait on the piano keyboard. I cannot conceive of a player of the piano more overwhelming than Volodos; regarding his place as a great musician, the jury is still out, in my view.
To encapsulate: my reason for this 'fun' venture surrounding the Mozart Rondo was to totally reverse the role of Horowitz as the Lion of the piano (which he was), and make him, as it were, the 'miniaturist' followed by virtuosi - most important, for me, was to discover a perspective on this piece realized by different artists from different positions, all under the aegis we call 'music.'
These recordings are available - have fun!

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