Friday, December 22, 2017

A Very Frank Rant!


Just Talking: Thank You For Donating, & "We're A Christian Nation"
Her name is Carol and this is sort of a partial autobiographical episode that touches many subjects. It is full of facts and subjects that are everywhere around us. She can certainly contact me anytime she wants.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Svetlana Smolina plays Scriabin Piano Sonata No. 4, Op. 30


This Scriabin piano sonata dates from 1903. It is written in F# major which of course has six sharps and is the same key Gustav Mahler used for his last symphony 8 years later. 

The soloist, Svetlana Smolina, has no score in front of her and is playing this incredible piece all from memory. Those out there who have perhaps not considered this, could better understand the … ineffable,beyond material reality aspect to pianism, by considering that to memorize music at this level amounts to … playing it directly from somewhere outside of oneself. This is the “spiritual” or “religious” aspect to this art that makes one dare to ask whether even this expression of the greatest human achievements stands in danger of being driven into extinction from what Eric Blair (George Orwell) described as “a boot stamping on a human face, forever.”

The place she is playing it is a fabulous small concert room with two Steinway concert grand pianos in it. You only gradually see that they have had their tops removed. The camera angles begin at the personal level and spread out to the whole space as the piece commences, The audio/visual presentation is very good; museum piece … that is forever, level presentation. The window behind the pianos, ties the place and the music to the surrounding outside. You wont believe where this is. It's in Fishtail, Montana!

Svetlana Smolina plays Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 4, op. 30   
Tippet Rise Art Center, The Olivier Music Barn, July 9, 2016

And this is the place, this performance took place; out in the middle of nowhere! Montana! Is this where we may be driven to? Consider the ominous period through which we are passing. Meanwhile, we recognize superb talent. We recall that Scriabin's first wife was a superb pianist and played many of his works. Imagine her valiantly playing his music, even after they were irrevocably separated. Consider what this superb pianist has been able to accomplish. It is truly spectacular. Best.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Listen To, & See All The Dangerous Microwave Pulses You Are Subjected To In Our Wified World

Of course, I also placed this on the E. C. Riegel blog which I also maintain.  When I heard the sound from the detectors it reminded me of only one thing, the machine gun fire we heard on the videos from the Las Vegas shootings a few weeks back.  Draw your own conclusions as to what the powers that be are actually doing to us.  We wonder whether THEY subject THEMSELVES to this as much as THEY demand that we are subjected to it.  This will become a growing issue.  Don't get too comfortable dealing with things as they are.  They might not remain that way for much longer.  Best.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MUST SEE: Dr. Tent - The Exploding Autoimmune Epidemic ...? It's Not Autoimmune

MUST SEE: Dr. Tent - The Exploding Autoimmune Epidemic ...? It's Not Autoimmune

Some things are so important that everyone must see them.  This is one of them.  PLEASE see ALL of this video and spread it as widely as possible.  This is CRITICAL information.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Walter Gieseking plays Debussy "Suite Bergamasque"

Walter Gieseking plays Debussy "Suite Bergamasque"
Well, he plays a great deal of the early Debussy literature here.  You know, it kind of goes without saying that if you're going to be a great pianist, that you should at least find enough interest in what you're playing to convey that to anyone happening to listen. That's what Giesking does for French composers that he played. It was almost as though the perfect fit between German precision of technique and the kind of nothing but ear worms that is Debussy manage to meet and the result is pianistic perfection. Each phrase is substantial and intended but perfectly executes the composer's intentions; the impression rather than thing itself, the memory rather than any object from the time or place, a kind of psychological music rather than a romantic music in the traditional senses of fiction and drama.  Not all of Debussy deserves to be played as if one is running off to a fire. Just listen to how he plays Clair de Lune. Make it sound as though it is pouring like oil. By the way, for those who have played him, Debussy is one of those composers that actually knew how to play the piano and so his phrasing and everything lays very comfortably under the hands. Usually. I've just decided to ditch my old edition for better because for me, much of this music deserves deeper study. I always knew that Giesking's performances of these were stellar. We'll all try to do it like this if we're anywhere half this good. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Complete Scriabin Piano Sonatas - Maria Lettberg

Naria Lettberg

Well, I had to post this here. It is enough to be able to play any of these, let alone all of them. The real Scriabin connoisseurs can get the times and proceed directly to their favorite sonatas. Mine are 4 and 5.

Of Maria Lettberg, wikipedia says she was born in 1970 and lives in Berlin. There's plenty of talent looking for a gracious enough audience.

By the way, some have asked me if since I am selling a piano, whether I'm giving up pianism. My answer is, not on your life! 


... and if you liked those and wanted to know where it all came from, here is the rest of the story, almost literally: Scriabin - Maria Lettberg: Nocturnes & Morceaux, Fantasy etc.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Standard Studio Upright Piano for Sale

$1,100.00 US   

Piano at zip code 12051 (Coxsackie, NY)
Contact David Burton at

An oak “arts & crafts” style 1993 vintage “Schubert” made by Belarus (Borisova piano factory) standard upright piano – 43.5” tall x 58.25” wide x 23” deep with matching bench. The action is known as a single blow action. #746382 : 1993.

The owner did the following to this piano: keys are recovered, installed a Dampp-Chaser, action regulated and some slight voicing of hammers done.

The price asked for the piano is fair in that it has been improved and represents at least the value of perhaps 8 to 10 top of the line dress shirts, a decent practice piano and a good piano for beginners through those with intermediate ability.  This piano is certainly suitable for a school or church, but I would prefer it to find a good home where little fingers could be shown how to play it. 

I have been asked to add that I have learned and practiced pieces by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Debussy, Scrabin and Brahms on this piano.

This piano is built to take it and has a good scale, especially in the bass where the usual pin placement was changed by the piano's designers to enable a longer speaking length to the strings. The hammers are also good and generally the sound and feel of this piano should continue to improve with use. It has had regular though light use for most of its life and fairly regular tuning. This is actually a better than average piano for the price, certainly better than anything for twice the price coming out of Asia these days.   No piano performs at its peak unless it is regularly tuned and otherwise maintained. And the best time to tune a piano is after it has been placed in its new home and allowed to get used to its new environment. This piano is in need of a tuning and will not otherwise be prepped beyond its present condition prior to sale.

Offered with a free tuning if sold within 50 miles of zip code 12051 (Coxsackie, NY) The tuning would be scheduled a few weeks after the owner takes delivery.

Buyer will assume all responsibilities for arranging shipment and the sale will be final with no returns.

Payment will be through PayPal.

A payment of one tenth the asking price for this piano sent to PayPal with comparable identification will serve as a non refundable deposit and will prevent sale to someone else, however if you decide after seeing the piano not to accept it, the deposit is retained

This post will be removed from the blog when the piano sells. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Carl Czerny - Listening to Piano Exercises

Carl Czerny [CHAIR-knee} 1791-1857
Czerny was born the year Mozart died and died the year Elgar was born. He fits into a unique position in terms of efforts and time. Most pianists run across him in terms of his exercises. Here's what I have to say: If you're going to play them, hear them played first and actually play them with some consciousness that these too are music. Specifically, they are piano music that shows us some of the amazing sounds and colors the piano is capable of. Is there anything particularly interesting in any of Czerny's vast output? What of his other serious compositions? They all sound like second rate Beethoven. But how second rate are they? Just because we are all very conversant with the sound and feeling of Beethoven or Schubert doesn't mean that the lesser lights of the first Vienna school aren't worthy of further attention. Through these exercises, we are given a view into the scope of emotional expression those of the times considered the pianos of their times capable of rendering. 

 We present to you, for your amusement, the following from Carl Czerny's vast output, among the composers with the most opus numbers. Imagine all the works of Beethoven reaching from the floor to the top of your chair. Czerny's would reach past the ceiling. Sometimes, just because you publish a lot, doesn't mean that you survive, but in the case of Czerny, who was able to play by heart any of Beethoven's piano sonatas, and from whom most of us can actually trace our piano teachers, he did manage to survive, which is saying quite a lot these days.

Carl Czerny - 40 Studi Op.299
Version 1  Version 2

Czerny Carl - The School of Legato and Staccato 50 Studies for Piano op. 335 complete

Czerny Carl - The Art of Finger Dexterity 50 Studies for Piano op. 740 complete

Carl Czerny - 30 Studi Op.849


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Chopin Waltzes Complete - Alex Szilasi

Chopin Waltzes Complete - Alex Szilasi

These performances from a few years ago.  Every now and then, I have to do something for the art that this blog is chiefly about; pianism; the art of the piano, both playing it, and anything and everything to do with the great music written for it.  Few know that there are more waltzes than usually show up in a Dover edition.  Henle's has them all.  Henle is my choice for any serious work on any of these.  I like the sound and character of this Pleyel piano too, don't you?  The pianist has some very good ideas concerning atmosphere and interpretations of some of the dreamier and dramatic passages.  It's not just the same often tired renditions we've maybe accustomed to.  This pianist seems to have picked up on the benefits of studying and playing Liszt too.  It shows to great benefit here.  Enjoy.   

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In Search of the World's Greatest Pianos – James Pavel Shawcross

Why "In Search of The World's Greatest Pianos"

Shigeru Kawai SK-EX
1930 Steinway "Golden Age"
Hamburg Steinway
1966 Steinway D
Blüthner Model 2
Blüthner Model 1
Bosendorfer Imperial Concert Grand 97 Key
1903 Mason & Hamlin CC "Golden Age"
Mason and Hamlin BB "1993" 

Friedrich Grotrian

Young Shawcross plays a modified version of Chopin's fantasy Improptu on all these pianos. Of course nothing compares with having the experience in person, but you get the varieties of piano sound in all the registers. Every piano has a unique personality and most pianos on the high end are nice personalities. Some old pianos have wonderful personalities too, but they are harder to come by as time passes. Then of course some pianos have downright weird personalities. Those are the kind piano technicians sometimes discuss among themselves.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rameau: Le jardin de monsieur Rameau | Les Arts Florissants

Rameau: Le jardin de monsieur Rameau | Les Arts Florissants

A few years ago, well at least a decade now, this group performed at Alice Tully in NYC and I never forgot them.  These are like some of the true joys in my life, to hear such things in person is even more gratifying.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Publicly Funded Artists as Government "Attack Pets" - Stefan Molyneux

Now Stefan is a jabber box and can talk and talk and talk before delivering his punchline, but in the meantime he is saying some of those things that really and honestly need to be said.  Whose responsibility was it for any of the Impressionist painters to challenge the "system" that existed at that time?  It was they themselves.  They went out there and certainly found their paying audience.  Ever wonder why there are so many paintings of little girls by Renoir?  Because he got paid to do them.  He got a reputation for it and he earned his living thereby.  The others had their struggles, but that is what makes true artists and true art apparently.  

My oldest and dearest friends are among musicians and artists of various kinds.  But they all manage pretty much to make a living on their own without too much public money required.  Frankly, a lot of them may be alienated from society and that's why they're artists.  There were according to a psychologist friend of mine from another lifetime ago, certain unhappy people in this world for which normal human life would often be a great burden; artists, psychics, homosexuals and mystics.  These people may or may not have other disabilities.  A huge percentage of the public suffers innumeracy as well as illiteracy and more than you think can't possibly write by now because of the technical devices we all use.  Imagine losing the ability to write or never having learned, but knowing enough about how to use texting to get away with it.  There are such people, I assure you. 

Of course, if artists really want to be artists, they have to figure out how best to get attention and to sell their work.  That goes for composers too.  How do arts and artists survive?  I think the first question any artist needs to honestly ask is whether their art is actually any good at all.  Can anything they think they're accomplishing actually stack up favorably against known masterpieces in whatever their field of art happens to be.  If you are copying or extracting from someone else of known fame and caliber, or some school that you might happen to like, will it seem to the people who know the market for such artifacts that your efforts are mere affronts to that original school?  Where there is anything less than some kind of objectification, even of arts and artistic mastery, then matters of artistic value are pretty impossible to value.

If there is any objective reality, and I assure everyone that life itself would be impossible without it, then any artistic venture has its necessary risks and where there are none or where patronage is wanton or proscribed for some political objective of the state paying for the art ... then frankly, a lot of trash is the usual result.  How can one tell the difference?  VERY easy.  If one hears someone play the piano or a guitar or sings or dances or has painted pictures or made sculpture or made anything of any known artistic product, the question is one of enjoyment: I liked that, I want to hear more of that, I enjoyed seeing that, I would be willing to travel many hundreds of miles from home to experience that.  You know what's artistic and makes money?  Summer arts festivals at all possible levels.  The most monetarily successful tell one the true state of most people's willing artistic tastes.  

Of course, if one really wants to plan ahead, one will need economic lifeboats.  We need a concerted effort to get this project off the ground as it is to ultimately make public funding for most things obsolete: HERE.

Be seeing you.           

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The State of Beethoven's Piano Concertos

In the world of classical music, some concerts can be recent and have happened 20 years ago. We'll hope to be more recent, but some things are pillars of the musical universe simply because they are indispensable. Beethoven is universal because we have periods in our own lives when we are young, when we are middle aged, when we are no longer young, etc. and he speaks to all those aspects of our lives so well. All that is truly and intimately humanly possible in Western musical terms Beethoven accomplished with surprising eloquence which is still appreciated today. Here we'll bring to attention some recent extraordinary performances.
First Martha Argerich plays Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Opus 15 which he wrote when he was a young man of 26 or 27 and just beginning to have the first premonitions of his coming deafness. Arguably Argerich plays this as well as it can possibly be done, especially the second movement, which she sings along with the orchestra. The piano chosen is a Steinway D with a remarkably sweet tone. The cadenzas she uses are extended. The one to the third movement sounds familiar, the one for the first movement did not. This appeared in July of 2014 but probably dates from 2009 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Second Martha Argerich plays Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Opus 19 which Beethoven wrote when he was between 17 and 19 years old and probably in Bonn, published after the first, so it became the second. In any event he gave it its first performance in Vienna when he was 24. It was a dazzling piece for a young man to play, many dashing episodic passages, most of it very young and lighthearted with a serious middle movement Argerich arguable again plays as well as it could ever be done. This performance from the 2009 season at Verbier Festival & Academy. Notice again the way Argerich sings the phrases in ways uncommon to most Beethoven playing, very effective all the way through. She has a nice Steinway D here as well: thinking it is in fact the same piano. Do I like the tone of this piano? Yes, indeed I do. She uses extended cadenzas here as well.
Third the Piano Concerto No. 3 in c minor, Opus 37 which dates from when Beethoven was rounding 30 years old and he himself introduced it to the world in his 33rd year. Here we hear from Fazil Say, building a reputation as one of the strong pianists of the day. He plays this with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and this was placed on line in 2015, so the performance could have been very recent. The cadenza is very extended and unknown and might even be Say's own. He almost wants to make the link between Beethoven and Chopin or others of the romantics. It's effective and demonstrates Say's technique well. We have noticed the care and spirit given to playing the slow movements in these works and that's the case here as well. We have our modern pianos to thank for much of this; greater dynamics and sustain. They are capable of really singing the lines that Beethoven could have only imagined with the pianos available at his time; much of the power and depth of this music would have to wait until after Chopin had lived and died before we'd see modern pianos, imagine.
The fourth is, as many know my personal favorite among these pieces. For those who know it well, how about a chamber effort? Here is the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Opus 58 which Beethoven wrote in 1805-6 when he was 35 or 36 but was first heard in public in one of the most important first concerts in all musical history. It took place on 22 December, 1808, as Beethoven turned 38. It marked his last appearance as soloist and certainly he was going deaf by then. It was at this concert that this concerto as well as his fifth and sixth symphonies and the Choral Fantasy were all played in one marathon performance for the ages at Vienna's Theater an der Wien, which dates from 1801 and still stands. We hear it here in a performance for piano and chamber strings, an arrangement by Vinzenz Lachner, performed at St. James's Paddington, London, probably soon before it appeared here in 2015. (We'd usually like to give performers credit where possible. Names were not posted as to who played what)
Beethoven's fifth piano concerto was later given the name “Emperor” which is superfluous. Anyway here is Seong-Jin Cho playing it with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Yes, Beethoven's music is very popular in the far east. Here then is Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major“Emperor”, Opus 73 which Beethoven wrote in Vienna between 1809 and 1811. Beethoven turned 40 in 1810 the year both Chopin and Schumann were born. This concerto was first performed by Beethoven's patron and pupil, Archduke Rudolf (yes, nobles could and did play pianos and violins back then) on 13 January 1811 at the Palace of Prince Joseph Lobkowitz in Vienna, followed by a public concert later that year on 28 November at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig under Johann Philipp Christian Schulz, the soloist being Friedrich Schneider. This concerto remains one of those pieces that honestly if you manage to hear nothing else at a live classical music performance, it will really make an impression. Of course most of Beethoven's greatest works certainly give one an unforgettable impression when heard live; something like, “I can't believe it's real,” or something fathoms deeper is the usual result. Beethoven frequently surprises one with, “Gee, I had no idea he was so great,” or “after all, he was Beethoven.”