Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My Favorite Quotes of a Pianist Named Oscar..,.

I have written, at times, about the pianist Oscar Levant; however, his derisive style of humor should be remembered along with his recordings of Gershwin's piano music.
Not only was Levant a gifted performer but he also was noted for his literary abilities - two of his books, "A Smattering of Ignorance" and "Memoirs of an Amnesiac" can still be gotten.
I did a  program on Tufts University radio recently on the life of Levant, which included some of his quotes - thought that I might share some of my favorite little gems with you, in the event that you may not be familiar with his brand of humor:
"What this world needs is more geniuses with humility - there are so few of us left."
"I knew the singer Doris Day before she became a virgin." (Levant first said "I knew the singer Doris Day when she was still a virgin" but decided to 'enhance' his view of the singer).
"Schizophrenia has its merits - you never dine alone."
"I think a lot of Lennie Bernstein, but not as much as he does."
(In conversation with Gershwin) "George, if you had to do this all  over again, would you still fall in love with yourself?"
Gershwin once asked Levant "Do you think that my music will still be heard a hundred years from now?" - Levant's answer was "Yeah, if you're still around."
"A politician is one who will double-cross that bridge when he comes to it."
Just a few examples of Levant's view of his world through humor...


Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Pianist Yuja Wang - Will My Jury Always Be Out?...

Some weeks ago I wrote a blog about this 30 year -old woman , attempting to make a clarifying description of the quandary I had  created for myself by way of a determination about her status among the reigning pianists of our time:
Did she possess greatness?
Have I promulgated a distinction concerning the world of difference between one of the world's truly great players of the piano; and, the rarity called  'great artist'?
I do not back down from my view that Yuja Wang  remains, for me, as great a player of the instrument as I have ever experienced - imagine! With the likes of a Horowitz, or a Richter, or a Rachmaninoff having passed by the portal  of my memory sanctum, my conviction of her prowess as a pianist remains the same. When I hear a late Beethoven sonata take on a different dimension, and yet commands that I seriously assess that difference; or, when I hear her dispatching a Horowitz transcription with such fluidity accompanying a kind of smile that represents a journey of adventure and admiration; or, to bear witness to the level of barbarity carried by magnificent harmonic waves, making Prokofiev a wee bit smaller at the same time without textual compromise -
Am I being seduced by an unparalleled level of mannerism?
Or am I listening to greatness?
I  continue my quandary...
You will be the first to know if I become a subject of sudden coruscation -