Thursday, February 20, 2014

Music - As Seen Through the Eyes of a Musician Other Than Myself - a Fascinating Intra-Argumentation!

The other day I received a note from Ricardo Odriozola, the eminent Spanish violinist who teaches in Norway and performs and records  throughout Europe. He mentioned to me that he was looking at a composition I wrote for him recently, and was in the midst of examining the polyphony embedded in this work for unaccompanied violin, let alone analyzing my tonal component, which he termed as "complex in its simplicity."
"Complex in its simplicity" - well, after mulling over this statement, I felt that Odriozola really 'nailed' the issue of my harmonic vocabulary, in that  he sees the imagery of my tactics in moving from one tonal center to another in very brief "real" time in constancy ,which is the basis of my particular premise that the diatonic system will prevail in spite of the age of transition that has  surrounded it since Schoenberg.
The violinist (who has recorded a number of my works)and I have never intrinsically discussed the process of 'capillary action' I employ in dealing with tonal centers; however, in these words of his I am reminded of the level of knowledge that Odriozola possesses and his abilities to  'translate' the languages he is confronted by almost daily at this point in the ongoing saga we call Music.
Which brings to mind the question of:
What did the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, through their eyes, discern, in their early years when  a teacher  they both studied with;  a gentleman by the name of Haydn, anointed them with his music? What, at their dizzying level of imagery, did they take away from the works that Haydn must have asked them to pull apart and put together once again?
I think about this issue, from time to time; and try, as best as I can, to imagine what a genius sees in the same music I may be looking at.
I fully realize, of course, that from time to time, what one musician sees may surprise, let alone shock another musician, by way of the pejorative;  as, for instance, Tchaikowsky calling Brahms "that artless bastard."
At any rate;  for me, the pondering over this rather delicious issue will always be a source of a kind of ambivalent pleasure and some consternation, as the answer to this issue is, of course, unavailable.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jarmila Novotna - A Great Singer Rendered Obscure By the Passing of Time?...

Another facet of  my memory came into focus recently, for reasons unfathomable to me, of course; and this particular facet came in the form of my reactions as a youngster to the transcendent beauty of the voice of Jarmila Novotna, the Czech  soprano who captivated both Vienna and New York with her glittering performances, especially in opera;  though, of course, she gave innumerable  recitals as well.
For those of you who are not familiar with her name, please know that she appeared over 200 times as a leading singer with  the Metropolitan Opera, after her renown successes in Vienna.
She was not only a great success as a singer, but  also excelled in drama, and was considered one of the most beautiful women in both music and stage, having also appeared in a number of movies during mid-century.
I most assuredly would recommend to those of you who are yet to know this woman, that you listen to some of her music(her Mozart is a joy). There are many recordings, and I would assume some videos as well.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

WHO Is Playing Liszt's Tenth Rhapsody In This Recording?...

When I first heard this recording of the Liszt Rhapsody, I could scarcely believe that it was the pianist performing it.
The stunning clarity and power of the myriad passages that whirl their way from beginning to end in this celebration of  pyrotechnique  - was this Horowitz? Who else was there who could wield such prowess on the instrument?
The recording was part of a decade(1928 - 1937) of recordings made by Artur Rubinstein, during a period when the Rubinstein the world knows as a great poet  demonstrating  his magic by way of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and other great composers of the Golden Age of piano seemingly was testing the outer reaches of his physical technique, almost as if he needed to give answer to the gargantuan powers that the young Horowitz introduced to the American audiences in 1928, interestingly enough, the very same year Rubinstein began this series of recordings for the piano. Coincidence? Or a need on the part of Rubinstein to certify an aspect of his pianistic arsenal?  I cannot answer, as this question is pure speculation.
The Liszt Rhapsody is included on a  CD called "Rubinstein Fireworks," with recordings transferred from the original 78 discs to digital brilliance in a process called Cedar Sound System out of Milano.
Listen to this disc - be honest! WOULD you have correctly identified Rubinstein as the "culprit" playing Liszt in that manner - I most certainly would not have been able to!