Thursday, September 18, 2014

Samuil Feinberg Piano Sonata no. 2, op 2

performed by Christophe Sirodeau

So Samuil Feinberg was an extremely talented pianist, known for his transcriptions of Bach, as well as a complete recording of the Well-tempered Clavier. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Alexander Goldenweiser, a composer I've been meaning to get around to exploring. He won the Stalin Prize in 1946, and composed in his career twelve sonatas, as well as fantasies and other works for piano, some including voice, and three piano concertos, which Wikipedia also notes are not standard in the repertoire... I haven't even heard them yet. I seem to recall not being able to find them, but a YouTube search yields some recordings. I must check them out. 
His first and second sonatas were both composed in 1915, when the composer was 25 years old, and are his first two opus numbers. It seems most of his piano sonatas, with the exception of 1 and 11, are on YouTube or have recordings available, so I know nothing of his first. 
The second is a busy, frighteningly complicated-looking and sounding second sonata for a young

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

TCO- 臺北世紀青年管弦樂團: An Evening of Mahler

I went a few weeks ago to hear this ensemble (see my remarks below about the name) play in our National Concert Hall here in Taipei. This past year or so, I've been working through an obsession with the works of Mahler. I still haven't cracked into Das Lied or some of the song cycles much, but have gotten my head around most of the symphonies. It's mostly three and nine that are left to really be explored, as well as whatever exists of the tenth in its various forms.
I spent most of the summer not going to concerts, so when a coworker plopped the August and September programs on my desk, I was eager to make a to-do list of shows to see, and the first name I scanned for was Mahler (about 80% of these programs are in Chinese, so I had to look over it twice), and was beyond pleased to find both his fourth and ninth (which I'll be attending THIS WEEK!) on different programs a few weeks apart.
This evening's program was "An Evening of Mahler" (馬勒之夜)and it consisted of the adiagetto of the fifth for the first half, and the entirety of the fourth for the latter half. Not bad, and as much as I detest plucking individual movements out of the works in which they belong, it would be quite a long evening to try to play two Mahler symphonies in one program, even if the fourth is (one of) his most succinct.
One of the issues I have with going to live performances is that although there is something

Monday, September 15, 2014

On this day: week of September 15, 2014

September 15
1690 – Ignazio Prota, Italian composer and educator (d. 1748)
1815 – Halfdan Kjerulf, Norwegian composer (d. 1868) That's quite a name…
1858 – Jenő Hubay, Hungarian violinist (d. 1937)
1863 – Horatio Parker, American organist, composer, and educator (d. 1919)
1870 – Rose Sutro, American pianist (d. 1957)
1876 – Bruno Walter, German-American pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1962) You know, Mahler's friend and all... 
1890 – Ernest Bullock, English organist and composer (d. 1979)
1890 – Frank Martin, Swiss-Dutch composer (d. 1974)
1933 – Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Spanish conductor and composer (d. 2014)
1841 – Alessandro Rolla, Italian violinist and composer (b. 1757) 
1842 – Pierre Baillot, French violinist and composer (b. 1771)
1915 – Ernest Gagnon, Canadian organist and composer (b. 1834)
1945 – Anton Webern, Austrian composer and conductor (b. 1883)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ravel: Sonatine

performed by Martha Argerich

Not every piece of music has to be big and daring and overwhelming and complicated to be enjoyable. This piece is of quite small stature, coming in (with Ms. Argerich's recording) at just around 11 minutes. It is in three movements, with repeating and transforming melodies throughout the first and third movements. The term 'sonatine' itself is a diminutive in reference to its size as a much smaller piece, not to its simplicity or any perceived insignificance. It is a fantastically demanding work, Ravel himself opting not to play the third movement in performances on tour. 
The first movement was originally written to be entered into a competition. One of Ravel's friends worked at the Weekly Critical Review and suggested he submit a composition. Ravel submitted what is now the first movement of Sonatine, but it was disqualified for being a measure or two over

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Concert Review: Asian Youth Orchestra

Last month, I had the last minute opportunity to see the Asian Youth Orchestra live here in Taipei from just about the best seats in the concert hall (and for free, no less). 
I had originally planned on attending that evening's performance, but of the four events I had decided to go to, it was the least enticing program (up against the likes of Mahler and Sibelius, two of my favorites), so it got the hack. Also, it was a Monday night, which tends to be somewhat more inconvenient. 
As it turns out, a coworker had two extra tickets (center of the thirteenth row) he couldn't use (or had no interest in using), and knew I was "into this stuff" so I got them. 
I had enough time to go home a bit early and have dinner before the show. The program was as follows: 
Bernstein's overture to Candide
Strauss's Ein Heldenleben
Beethoven's symphony no. 3 'Eroica'

I honestly had no knowledge of Strauss's work, and it ended up being the longest piece on the program. I cannot say anything about its performance since I know nothing about it. 

I have, however, played the Bernstein piece (in high school), and in, perhaps, TRUE Bernstein style, the piece is energetic and fun. I have watched YouTube videos of the maestro himself conducting it, and it is extremely lively. The lyrical string passages gave me chills.
The thing I was most looking forward to hearing on this night, and the primary reason I had been interested in going to begin with was to hear Beethoven's fantastic Eroica symphony live. What a pivotal, critical piece of history in the literature from beginning to end. I've nearly taken up writing about it on a number of occasions, but just haven't been able to work up the courage and