Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beethoven, the Concertos, and Leif Ove Andsnes - Further Reactions...

Recently, I had written a blog pertaining to my reactions to the recent recordings by the great Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, in his readings of four of the five concertos for piano by Beethoven.
Upon my second exposure  to these performances, some additional  reactions; in truth, a form of coruscation  has arisen   from  this particular listening, that promulgates some questions that had  never materialized  for me   in Beethoven's music heretofore:
In having dealt with the connection between the period called Sturm Und Drang (storm and stress)  and Beethoven's language, I had, through the years, simply connected the sense of hubris and drama associated with the play by Klinger that bears the title Sturm Und Drang, which first appeared on stage in 1777 and gave name to the period that lasted about a generation thereafter.
There are, of course, historical connections that can be read about the sense of drama  pertaining  to Beethoven's language, especially in such piano works as the  'Appassionata' or  'Waldstein'  sonatas, and the connection has for centuries been discussed and written about ad infinitum.
However, I have found, upon listening to Andsnes, that in some arcane  manner the pianist projects a sense of positivism throughout all four concertos while at the same time  reconfigures   the ways of traditional drama and ensuing power  which, for me, sublimates the entire aura of language design; an occurrence which I had never come close to contemplating  before.
For me, Andsnes has instilled a kind of  'inner peace' in the spiritual core of Beethoven which tells me more about  the nature of the Master, and his ultimate victory over personal tragedy.
If my words begin to appear rather turgid, do please know that I find it essentially impossible to describe that which I have heard - I can only listen, and make an attempt at coming to understand what I have heard.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

'The Art Of" - Further Paradigms...

When I read of the passing of Mickey Rooney this past week, a montage formed rather quickly; a montage of names that had filled my early childhood with memories so powerful, so indelible, so much a part of my daily encounters and adventures that formed  the ways of my early existence - well, I thought that I should share these pages of my memory book with you:
Mickey Rooney.   Shirley Temple.   Jascha Heifetz.   Artur Rubinstein.   Michael Rabin.   Yehudi Menuhin...
These names engrossed me as a child when their performances  were presented by recording or in theaters, depending upon who the performer was.
Menuhin, as a teenager, dazzling me with his "Moto Perpetuo" by Paganini - how CAN he do what he does?
Artur Rubinstein - although he was born back in the 19th century, I recall seeing many photographs of his  seducing European audiences before entering his teens - another Mozart??
Michael Rabin enrapturing my senses, in vanquishing Paganini at age twelve - my ears are truly deceiving me.
Jascha Heifetz, still in short pants,  overwhelming  the elemental resistance factors indigenous to the violin - he's only a little kid!...
Shirley Temple, by way  of  communicating with all the girls in my neighborhood , let alone the parents.  I remember the numbers of blue and pink tumblers with her picture embossed upon them; on windowsills; in my school on many desks occupied by girls - photographs of her in countless locations wherever I happened to be; her name on almost all of the theater marquees all over town.
And Mickey Rooney -  on my birthday,  my first piano teacher, whom I loved, gave me a copy of  Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn". It contained a photograph of Mickey Rooney, who played the part of Huck Finn in a movie released during that period. I remember clasping  that book wherever I went, taking it to bed with me - the two of us were inseparable for quite a period,  I'm sure.  I loved reading, and always carried a book around with me a great deal of the time.
All these memories leaped into life this week.
Rooney, Menuhin, Heifetz - and the rest of the names  I have mentioned, were all artists of  endearing meaning and power to me. Most were  before me; however, the pages of history are replete with their gifts while still youngsters; attainments which beguiled and enhanced  my young years.
The power of Communication - what else, truly, is there, for the artist to engender?


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Sublime Empiricism of Beethoven - Two Recordings...

The Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has, at long last,  decided to record Beethoven for the first time by way of the Concertos; and. for me, it constitutes a fateful decision.
The pianist, during the past year and a half, has recorded the first four of the five Concertos of the composer (hopefully, the fifth will soon be recorded). The first and third are on one disc, recorded in Prague. The second and fourth were recorded in a suburb of London. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra is involved on both discs.
My "review" will be brief. The reason for the brevity is quite simple; that is, I cannot adequately find a way to describe my reaction to what I have heard in these performances.
Andsnes, from my perspective, has found a pathway to the power of Beethoven's language - the ways of projecting the reality of Beethoven as a supreme example of a Child of the Enlightenment; the portrayal that Andsnes divulges to me of the nature and fiber of Beethoven's existential manner of defeating personal tragedy by way of a form of positivism so intransigent in  its message; music, without a word, so clearly  finding a way to poke a finger directly into the Eye of Fate; certifying that  the composer's  early testament in 1802 which begins with contemplation of suicide is utterly and permanently  demolished in the music which follows.
Additionally; Andsnes, as Director of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, while performing on the piano, finds a way of 'wrapping' the sound of the orchestra  around the piano, creating a kind of "oneness" that results in a fusion I have not experienced before.
The Andsnes incarnation, for me, is more than thrilling. It is the most efficacious example of telling me more about  the core of Beethoven's message than I have could possibly  have contemplated before hearing these performances.