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THEORY

Theory…

This is about scales, chords, how to read lines and spaces – and a lot more. Anything about patterns, structures and systems is part of theory. It can be deadly boring or fascinating, depending on how you view it. For any successful musician a thorough knowledge of theory is a must.

Click on the hyperlinks below for PDF files.

Traditional, more advanced

TUESDAY, April 6, 2021 – 11:54 PM

Chopin Etude No. 1 from Trois Etudes

I am mostly staying away from really famous traditional music that is well recorded and well played, but this particular etude has fascinated me for many years. So I decided to record it and present even if was not quite as polished as I hoped. It sounds really easy, but it’s a small nightmare because the RH is in threes while the LH is in fours. This is called a poly-rhythm.

 

2021: My recordings of traditional music for students

TUESDAY, April 6, 2021 – 11:22 PM

2021: My recordings of traditional music

I have not seriously recorded since the 1990s, with tweaks in the early 2000s. I’m trying to change that right now, starting with some short, famous selections. There is not much written for students in the first couple years of lessons that is both playable and extremely interesting. I think theses pieces are exceptions.

Chopin Prelude in A major

Chopin Prelude in C minor

Chopin Prelude in B minor

Chopin Prelude in E minor

Kabalevsky Novelette

Kabalevsky Short Story

Kabalevsky Toccatina

Kabalevsky Song

Elmenreich Spinning Song

Grieg Watchman’s Song

1875: Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor

SUNDAY, April 4, 2021 – 2:27 PM

Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor (Werther Quartet after Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther), age 42

First, just start with this, because it is an absolutely smoking performance. There is only this one movement here, but it’s probably 20% faster than any other performance. Grandma has gray hear here, so it’s not a performance from long ago, but Argerich has as much fire here as she did when very young.

Instrumentation

  • piano
  • violin
  • viola
  • cello

Movements

  • 1. Allegro non troppo (C minor)
  • 2. Scherzo: Allegro (C minor → C major)
  • 3. Andante (E major)
  • 4. Finale: Allegro comodo (C minor → C major)

Piano quartets

This is a very famous piano quartet. Piano quartets use the same instruments as a string quartet but without the 2nd violin part. I say this is famous because as a non string player my interest is generally more in larger ensembles, particularly symphonies and concertos. So I’m still making up my mind who I like playing this the most, although Argerich would be my 1st choice, hands down, if only we had her playing all the movements.

A recent live performance

Veronika Eberle, Violin | Veronika Hagen, Viola | Monika Leskovar, Cello | Nelson Goerner, Piano

I know nothing about any of these players, but I have a preference for modern recordings because of the miking. Engineers are becoming absolutely wizards at getting full, vibrant sound. I like the full sound of the piano. Without a great deal of experience with this piece I think this is my favorite. It’s live which is always best, when it works, and the church is beautiful. If I continue to like this as much as I do now, I’ll try research all the players. And look at all the women, with only a man playing the piano. Every year I swear there are more stunning female performances.

 

 

1553: Diego Ortiz

SUNDAY, April 4, 2021 – 1:18 PM

Diego Ortiz, age 43

Early music is not my thing, so for the most part I start with Bach and move forward. But last week I was in a weird mood. Someone shared some of Ortiz’s music, and I enjoyed it. So since I have nothing from the 1500s I decided to do more listening. Obviously he did not write all this music at exactly age 43, but I just used that number as a starting point. No one really knows much about the exact dates of composition.

Recercada Secunda played on crumhorn

What is a crumhorn? I didn’t know, but it reminds me of a bagpipe, and sure enough there is a link. This may be one of the oddest things I’ve every heard. It made me laugh.

Recercada segunda

It’s short, and what is going on? You will hear G major move to F major, which is clearly Mixolydian, today, but it is tuned down to F# major, which is of no importance to people who do not have perfect pitch. But then you always hear a V chord, which is like modern major. What is interesting about this kind of sound is that it’s also very modern. You will hear it a lot in hard rock.

Recercada No. 1 sobre el passamezzo antiguo

The word “receercada” is translated as “research”, but the meaning here is “study”, which today is usually written as “etude”. To this is a study or etude about the old passamezzo, which was an old folk song style even way back in the 1500s.

Recercadas del Trattado de Glosas

This is a set of studies, and the whole video is about 50 minutes long. Full disclosure: I managed to listen for only a few minutes, but maybe in a weird mood and with other things to do I could listen longer.

But what is it?

…a music book for viola da gamba (Ortiz calls it vihuela de arco or violón) and harpsichord, published in 1553 by the Spanish composer and violist Diego Ortiz.

 

 

1841: Chopin: Prelude Op. 45 in C# minor

SATURDAY, April 3, 2021 – 11:03 PM

Chopin: Prelude Op. 45 in C# minor, age 31

Chopin wrote  a set of 24 very famous preludes, but this one was written much later, close to the end of his rather short life. What is most interesting about this one is that it visits so many different keys, so much so that I’m not sure there is one key he does not use briefly. When something stays entirely within a key, it is diatonic. When something uses more than the seven notes in a key it is at least partially chromatic. So this piece is mostly diatonic at any given moment, but because it modulates so many times it is also highly chromatic. Towards the end there is a cadenza that is made entirely of two chords, moving chromatically, and one of those chords is the dim chord.

Claudio Arrau

I listened to many recordings, but I prefer this above all others, and that’s not an unusual thing. Arrau was a deep thinker, both faithful to scores and yet quietly individualistic, exploring every possibility. I thought about recording this, and I may still do it, but the playing is good here that it seems pointless.

Pogorelich

This man was one of the most unusual young pianists we have every heard. I once owned his recordings of all the Chopin preludes. Some of them I liked, some of them I hated, and a few I thought were amazing. This is one of the amazing ones. I don’t quite like his cadenza, which for me is too fast, but that’s a small quibble.