Technical fireworks display... Litolff composed this Scherzo as a formidable challenge for the piano virtuoso.
Henry Charles Litolff (1818-1891) was a contemporary of Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. Though he was a prolific composer, very few of his pieces are performed on today’s concert stages. The SCHERZO in this recording is one of those rare instances. It is excerpted from the 4th Concerto Symphonique, part of a handful of works bearing the same title.
My performance of this took place in Port Charlotte, Florida with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Janita Hauk.
LIVE AT LINCOLN CENTER
One of the Everests of piano compositions! Listen to the intricacies of this timeless masterpiece written by Ravel.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), a major French impressionist composer, imbued his compositions with the kind of meticulous and artful craftsmanship not so surprising to those who knew him. His father was a Swiss engineer of some notoriety, having been the inventor of an early internal combustion engine and other popular machines like the "Whirlwind of Death" for the circus. ONDINE from GASPARD DE LA NUIT was originally inspired from a set of phantasmagorical writings by Aloysius Bertrand. The piano suite is quite programmatic in intent and the other two movements, LE GIBET and SCARBO, also accurately depict the scenes within the pages of poetry. Replete with musical text painting as well as pianistic challenges, this work of incomparable proportions has its own alluring beauty.
My New York debut in Lincoln Center was part of a larger event which included internet broadcasting and live chat with a worldwide audience. ONDINE was part of a major recital program accompanied by an in-depth interview onstage.
BEETHOVEN FIRST PIANO CONCERTO, MOVEMENT 1
Simple, clean lines of the high classical style - Notice the musical purity and straight-forward design of Beethoven's musical language.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) arguably represents the pinnacle of the mature classical period; some feel he is transitional and does not fit the mold of being either classic or romantic. In any case, the FIRST CONCERTO (Op. 15) was really considered to be the second one due to discrepancies between composition and publication dates. Even today, tradition has kept it this way. For those of you who would be interested to know, the numeral "5" has a certain allure for major composers in the history of western music, especially when it comes to orchestral pieces with piano solo. Not only Beethoven...but Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, and Rachmaninov all have five concertos!
My appearance with Anthony Armoré conducting the Yaquina Chamber Orchestra in Newport, Oregon was under the auspices of the Ernest Bloch Music Festival, an annual symposium for composers, scholars and performers. The actual clip, here, is from the second half of the first movement. Part 1 can be heard on YouTube.
Lyricism at its very best! Chopin wrote one hit melody after another in this alluring, but difficult concerto.
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Polish expatriate, emigrated from his homeland to France in his early adulthood and remained there the rest of his life. He was equally popular in Paris as a performer and master pedagogue. In fact, he was the most expensive piano teacher (even more so than Franz Liszt). Nearly his entire output is solely for the keyboard. The FIRST PIANO CONCERTO has a similar story to tell in terms of its first writings and final publication; the First and Second Piano Concertos should be in reverse order.
I performed this a couple of times with Janita Hauk and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in Bonita Springs, Florida. The excerpt is part 2... part 1 can be seen on YouTube.
Short, but demanding gems of the Baroque era - These miniatures of Scarlatti explore the subtleties of technical refinement.
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) although Italian by birth, spent most of his life in the royal courts of Portugal and Spain. He shares the same birth year with two other famous Baroque composers, namely J.S. Bach and George Frederick Handel. Writing exclusively for the harpsichord, Scarlatti's entire corpus of works centers on the hundreds of sonatas and esercizi (studies) for that instrument. The Sonatas in D Minor (L. 366) and E Major (L. 23) are two excerpts out of a vast collection of pieces under the same title (well more than 500 in number). They were written while serving as court musician to Maria Barbara of Spain; she was one of his students.
Here I played these two SONATAS as part of a recital, benefiting one of the local arts councils in Newport, Oregon.
The perfect encore piece - The universal appeal and popularity of a Chopin waltz are undeniable.
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was a composer who wrote in many different styles and was able to convey the folkloristic essence of his homeland, Poland. Though the WALTZ is not Polish in nature, he, nevertheless, had a charming way of developing the character of this dance form.
On the YouTube recording, my second encore (Chopin WALTZ IN C# MINOR) was captured on video at a concert in Slovakia after having played a world premier of Klaus Cornell's Réclère: Metaphor for Piano and Orchestra with the Slovak Sinfonietta.
A frighteningly difficult piece! Pianists generally agree that Strauss has composed an extremely demanding work here.
Richard Strauss (1864-1949), German composer, was known mainly for operas, tone poems and lieder. His only contribution to the piano concerto repertory was this Burleske although he left us two horn concerti, Don Quixote (for cello, viola and orchestra), an oboe concerto, and the Duet-Concertino (for bassoon, clarinet and orchestra). Anecdotal information has it that Strauss (in his early 20's), being Hans von Bülow's conducting assistant, showed him the score. To his surprise, it was dismissed as being unplayable. Well, thank goodness for the few concert pianists who perform the piece, otherwise, it would be gathering dust on museum shelves somewhere.
I appeared with the Polish orchestra, Filharmonia Sudecka under Anthony Armoré's direction. This is part 1 of several rehearsal sessions before the actual concert. Part 2 can be accessed on the YouTube site.
GERSHWIN "THE MAN I LOVE"
Americana personified… Gershwin captures an endearing moment by transcribing one of his very famous songs for piano.
George Gershwin (1898-1937) along with his brother, Ira, were a famous songwriter and lyricist duo team on Tin Pin Alley, the well-established assemblage of New York based publishers and musicians who ruled over the American pop culture scene at the time. THE MAN I LOVE is part of a series of 18 song transcriptions which Gershwin made. This is a refreshing arrangement or reinterpretation of the original song and attests to the creative genius of his improvisational skills.
My video camera was in the back of the auditorium to record this encore. The entire concert which took place in Slovakia with the Slovak Sinfonietta premiered works written by several European composers. I was part of the event with my debut performance of Klaus Cornell's Réclère: Metaphor for Piano and Orchestra, a piece inspired by some underground caverns in Switzerland.