....a roundup of Chopiniana: current news, views, reviews, recordings and performances in the runup to the 200th birthday of the matchless Polish keyboard composer.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Chopin Currency: March 31, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Pianist Emanuel Ax sparkles with the Madison Symphony Orchestra
Isthmus Daily Page - Madison,WI,USA

Madison reviewer likes the player, if not necessarily the repertoire...

For its March 28-30 concerts in Overture Hall, the Madison Symphony Orchestra's mandatory guest soloist is pianist Emanuel Ax, a fine musician always welcome. Would that his vehicle had been better chosen.

I must admit straightway that Chopin's two piano concertos have long ago worn badly for me. They were composed as necessary calling cards to launch Chopin's performing career. Chopin knew he was no master of the orchestra or of large-scale forms. His short concerted works are more satisfactory because they do not have to be fitted into classical multi-movement molds. It is significant that his only subsequent ventures into such established-form territory were his Cello Sonata and his three Piano Sonatas, which are at least written on a more congenially intimate scale.

With mediocre thematic material and bland orchestral writing, the two concertos might easily have faded among the dozens of such diffident ventures that cluttered the second quarter of the 19th century. (Anyone for Kalkbrenner, Henselt, Moscheles, or their ilk?) The one saving grace for Chopin's two is their solo piano writing, which set the composer on course to create thereafter some of the greatest music ever written for his instrument.

See all stories on this topic

MSO matches superb musicianship, wise choices
The Capital Times - Madison,WI,USA

And now, an opposing viewpoint as to the merits of the Chopin concerto....

Ax, a perennial Madison favorite, performed Chopin's Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 21. The pianist's superlative technique, tempered with his elegant style, delivered a wonderfully emotive, technically perfect performance that characterized the definition of great music. No other performer this season has captured the brilliance of a composition to the same degree as Ax.

The Concerto No. 2, written when Chopin was 19, captures the composer's sentiment at the height of romantic youth. Ax's technical mastery explores those passages benefiting from development, while controlling the composer's occasional excesses. The result of those efforts brought the audience to its feet, a show of appreciation rewarded by an impromptu encore, Chopin's Nocturne Op. 7, No. 21. Similar musical themes came forward from the solo piano performance, which was every bit as compelling as the longer orchestral work.

all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

A Thoroughly Blessed Life
By Bill

A moving eulogy to a Boise piano teacher and her motivational techniques:

My next lesson came. I started playing the Mozart, and Mildred interrupted me and said, "Let me hear the Chopin." I was shocked because it was the last lesson we would have before the recital. I started playing the Chopin. I was still angry that I would not be playing it for the recital, and I played it with anger. Soon the room was engulfed with the sounds of Chopin coming from this grand piano. At some point during a very agitated part of the Polonaise, Mildred came over, placed her hands on my shoulders and said to me, "Feel the fire of that!" It was the most pivotal point in my music career. The fire she talked of was passion, and I realized that it had taken me over.

She then pulled out the program for the recital that had been printed up two weeks before. It listed me playing the Chopin. She had faith in me and knew how to motivate me, even when I didn't.

Bill and Kent's Place - http://billandkent.com/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Chopin Currency: March 30, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Rachmaninoff fails to fill the hall
Arizona Daily Star - Tucson,AZ,USA

Not "news," but an interesting time capsule from February 1925:

Maybe folks went to the literature club’s discussion of “Modern English Novels” or possibly the talk at the Tucson Fine Arts meeting on “Artists of the Nineteenth Century,” but for some reason, on February 2, 1925, when Rachmaninoff performed in Tucson, he did not fill the auditorium. [...]

The Saturday Morning Musical Club was responsible for bringing many well-known artists to Tucson. They brought Rachmaninoff here as a special attraction. Tickets for the event were $1.50, 2.00 and 2.50. Season ticket holders received special rates.

The composer chose selections from Schuman, Liszt and Chopin, in addition to several of his own works. He played with only one brief intermission.

“Rachmaninoff was the quiet, reserved master of his instrument. Not for him the physical accompaniment of his forte passages with the sway of head or body, other than that wrought by flying arms, nor any eye-closed dreamy posture, for such dainty bits as Chopin’s “Ballade” offered.”

According to the reviewer, his playing of “Ballade” “may be likened only to delicate lace, the melody coming from beneath his fingers with magic ease, making a sweetly appealing selection, thrice applauded.”

See all stories on this topic

Pianist Ralph Votapek instills sweep and grandeur at Brock Hall ...
The Birmingham News - al.com - Birmingham,AL,USA

Ralph Votapek, the very first Van Cliburn Competition winner, wows 'em in Alabam...

He rendered Chopin's Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1, with sweep and grandeur. The "Tarantelle," Op. 45, was pure energy. The Chopin set converged in the perfect sturm und drang of the Ballade in F minor, Op. 52. Cascading chromatic scales were fluid, quick and flawless. With a masterful touch, Votapek shaped this work with countless gradations of dynamics while instilling it with Lisztian fervor.

See all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

Chopin: Favorite Piano Works
By admin0

From a used-vinyl and CD site, a nod to a 1996 compilation by Vladimir Ashkenazy:

This is a masterful performance by the great Vladimir Ashkenazy of Chopin’s favourite piano works. If you love Chopin’s music and Ashkenazy’s magic touch, this 2-disc CD is a must.
Seek & Buy Audio CD - http://vinylrecords.890m.com/wordpress

Misc. Chopiniana:

The Chopin Hotel HDR
By nobody@flickr.com (David Giral)

Nice arty image of the Hotel Chopin in Paris, posted on flickr.com:

Photos from David Giral - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepretender/

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Chopin Currency - March 29, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Horszowski: CASALS: Prelude; CHOPIN: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor; Mazurka in B-flat Minor...
Audiophile Audition - USA

Review of a CD compendium of two recitals (in 1984 and 1987) given by the venerable Polish pianist at the Aldeburgh Festival:

If ever a musician could be “venerated,” it would have to be Mieczyslaw Horszowski (1892-1993), the Polish virtuoso who excelled as solo pianist, teacher, and accompanist, and whose “staying power“ at his chosen instrument lasted 80 years. A pupil of Theodor Leschetizky, Horszowski mastered every degree of nuanced keyboard playing without percussiveness, and the entire Slavic-German repertory lay under his command. [...]

Horszowski opens with an homage to his dear friend, Pablo Casals - an extensive Prelude that plays like a nocturne, dramatic in parts with touches of what sound like Rachmaninov’s famed C-sharp Minor effort. Horszowski takes a broad tempo for the first movement of the Chopin B Minor, allowing Chopin’s modal counterpoint to shine through as well as the second subject to bask in burnished space. The development becomes thick without succumbing to metrical sag or emotional pretentiousness. Horszowski has a few finger slips in the gnarly Scherzo, which he takes rather gingerly. Despite the flaws, the music enjoys the contours of a water-piece, Debussy not far away. The third movement Largo seeks a balance of nocturne and barcarolle, in which Horszowski imbues the repeated arpeggios and colored chords with timeless, singing reverie. Herculean efforts move the Presto movement forward, Horszowski’s attacking the galloping figures with the audacity of one two generations younger than he. At the last chord, the audience whoops its appreciation for the gallant efforts.

See all stories on this topic

'Chaos' comes to Beirut for the first time
Daily Star - Lebanon - Beirut,Lebanon

Review of a Beirut recital by Lebanese composer-pianist Rami Khalifé:

Khalifé began Wednesday's concert with a selection of Chopin "Etudes." Presumably he wanted to shake off the nerves and warm up his hands. Having the contemporary centerpiece prefaced by the work of one of the best-loved composers of the romantic period also satisfied those especially fond of a better established repertoire - indeed, the audience erupted with applause after each etude.

See all stories on this topic

For piano lovers in Madison, this is a week to savor
The Capital Times - Madison,WI,USA

Emanuel Ax comes to the Wisconsin capital, Chopin in tow....

It starts with three performances by the Madison Symphony Orchestra with Emanuel Ax soloing in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor. (Actually it was Chopin's first concerto, but was published second.) The first might be more virtuosic and sophisticated in its composition, but the second has tender beauty to behold, nowhere more so than in the opening of the slow second movement, a love song by the 20-year-old composer.

See all stories on this topic

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Chopin Currency - March 28, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Vivid tribute show transforms theater into old Paris salon
San Jose Mercury News - CA, USA

Another glowing review for the San Francisco production of "Pauline Viardot and Friends," with special praise for soprano Melody Moore...

"Pauline Viardot and Friends" traced the outline of her life, from her early training under her strict father, Spanish tenor and voice teacher Manuel García, to her friendships with Chopin and George Sand. As her fame grew, so did her circle; she often entertained friends such as Charles Dickens, Henry James and Ivan Turgenev.

Despite her marriage to a much older man, Turgenev, explained Horne, became her lifelong amour.

"He became part of the family," Horne said. "It's hard to say which part, exactly - there's probably a word for it in French."


Moore, who has sung capably in small roles with the San Francisco Opera, gave a performance suggesting she is ready for center stage. After the big vocal leaps of "Coquette," Viardot's arrangement of a Chopin mazurka, Moore finessed the composer's "The Oak and the Reed" and "Hermione," and returned with a powerhouse performance of "Gods of the Styx" from Gluck's "Alceste."
See all stories on this topic

A night of solo Chopin with Louis Lortie
Ottawa Citizen - Ontario, Canada

Preview of Canadian pianist's April 1 performance of the complete Etudes:

"Better Chopin playing than this is not to be heard, not anywhere," wrote a Financial Times critic after star Canadian pianist Louis Lortie performed Chopin ...

Chopin's complete Études are made up of the Twelve Études, Op. 10; the Trois nouvelles Études and the Twelve Études, Op. 25. Lortie's recording of the Études was cited in a special piano issue of BBC Music Magazine as one of "50 Recordings by Superlative Pianists."

See all stories on this topic

Chopin Videos:

Road Songs (Richter plays Chopin Revolutionary Etude)
By CubanInLondon(CubanInLondon)

From the "CubaninLondon" blog, a breathtaking Sviatoslav Richter performance:

When in 1831, Chopin's étude opus 10, number 12, saw the light, Russian troops were about to crush the 'November Uprising' in Poland, The musician, unable to assist his fellow countrypeople, resorted to the only weapon he had, his piano. To me this piece is representative of a feeling that encompasses not just the love for one's homeland, but disdain for those who try to keep it down. Intoxicating.

CubanInLondon - http://cubaninlondon.blogspot.com/

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

On Chopin, Vanguard, and Bosomy Winged Avengers
By Adam Tiler

The importance of good music in gamecraft...

I appreciated the Chopin in Hellfire Peninsula, and wish Blizzard would do more like that, but the rest is B quality at best. Vanguard, for all its faults, had beautiful music (under Media). Todd Masten is a master of thematic music to ...
Mahogany Finish - http://www.mahoganyfinish.org

my heart aches
By alyson.(alyson.)

Piano memories from a Portland blogger...

I fell in love with Debussy, twisted my fingers learning Brahms, and wanted to learn every Chopin waltz written. every year, I competed in a local and state level for piano. each year I played in the solo competition, ...
unruly.things - http://unruly-things.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Chopin Currency - March 27, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Rubinstein Piano Competition / The heat that shuffled the deck
Ha'aretz - Tel Aviv,Israel

Bravos for the competitors, brickbats for the orchestra, in the latest dispatch from Tel Aviv:

Contestant Irina Zahharenkova, for instance, chose Chopin's Concerto No. 2. Based on her interpretation of the slow movement of Mozart's Concerto no. 23, a tender and unconventionally expressive performance which attempted to transcended plain technique, her interpretation of Chopin is likely to be more skillful and interesting.


The one participant that no one feels like hearing at this stage any more, is conductor Uri Segal and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. Listening to Segal lead the solos was a nerve wracking experience as it sounded as if the musicians were walking on thin ice: Will they fall due to the incorrect balance? Can they get passed the missed entries, unstable tempo and lack of rhythm?
See all stories on this topic

Ferdinand Hiller: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Musical Criticism - London,UK

Review of a new CD of piano concertos by Chopin contemporary Ferdinand Hiller, featuring pianist Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra:

Once again, Hyperion uncovers the work of yet anther 'unknown' composer who possessed deep ties with the great and the good of nineteenth-century music. Indeed, a highly curtailed biography of Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885) proves to be nothing more than a gross exercise in name-dropping: pupil of Hummel, protégé of Cherubini, acquaintance of Rossini and Berlioz, friend of Liszt and Chopin, deputy conductor of Mendelssohn's Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and composition teacher of Max Bruch (amongst others). He was a vaunted pianist in an age of burgeoning virtuosity and a composer of great potential, though his creative legacy has now been largely forgotten.


Even the early, bravura F-minor concerto is full of deft wit and charm, its finale a magnificent and forward-looking crossbreed of waltzes by Chopin and Johann Strauss that allows Shelley to exploit his magnificent pianism to the full.
See all stories on this topic

Chopin Videos:

Chopin FTW
By djsunkid(djsunkid)

More Chopin for Math geeks....

Hey, I think I like chopin! Check out these awesome reasons why! Mostly this is just a reminder to myself to get more Chopin. Woo!
raHr! - http://djsunkid.livejournal.com/

Valentina Lisitsa Chopin 24 Etude Op. 25 No. 6
By www.japanvideogames.com(www.japanvideogames.com)

Embedded Video. This piece is soooo hard to play at that speed, if you've ever seen the notes on sheetmusicarchive.net, it's a straight killer, major SKILLS, insta-watch when DONE. Blogged with the Flock Browser.
Interesting Things For you Late @ Night - http://yayyuh.blogspot.com/

Lang Lang plays Chopin with an Orange!

Citrus-flavored performance of the "Black Keys" (Op. 10 No. 5) Etude...

The best musicians in the world have great sense of humor and tend to be pretty easy going. Here's an example.
Amore is in the Aire - http://prplppleater.multiply.com/

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Chopin Currency -- March 25, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Marc-André Hamelin: No Limits
Toronto Star - Ontario, Canada

Review of a new DVD of the Canadian artist in concert:

This DVD combines extensive background interviews with a recital at the Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen, Germany, last summer. It's an extraordinary interpretation of a textbook solo-piano program: sonatas by Haydn and Chopin, the 12 Preludes in Book II by Debussy and fun encores by Gershwin and Hamelin himself....

See all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

“The World’s 50 Greatest Composers”
By Review Editor

The audio-library branch of the Mormon Church unveils its new series on composers....

Frederic Chopin was quite a tragic tale. My students remember well the “skinny composer” who never weighed more than 100 pounds. His devotion was solely to the piano, and the melodies shared are most beautiful. My students were amazed how such a small man could pound such incredible songs out! His life is one of continued digression as years of suffering finally lead to an early death at 39.

In all of these MP3 downloads from “The World’s 50 Greatest Composers” , the narrator’s voice is ALWAYS enjoyable to listen to and very lively, even story-like at times.

LDSAudio.com - LDS Music, Talks... - http://blog.ldsaudio.com

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Chopin Currency - Dyngus Day Edition - March 24, 2008

Dyngus Day to proclaim Polish pride
Buffalo News - NY, United States

Today we tip our hat to the venerable Chopin Singing Society, proud keepers of the Dyngus Day flame in Western New York...

For the clueless, Dyngus Day is a Polish-American tradition marking the end of Lent, the 40- day period of prayer and self-denial preceding Christianity’s joyous celebration of Easter. The unofficial holiday — typically observed with pussy willows and squirt guns — has been observed in Buffalo since the first Polish immigrants arrived in the 1870s.

However, after the Chopin Singing Society held the first modern celebration on Kosciusko Street in 1961, Dyngus Day began to outgrow its ethnic and geographic confines. It is now celebrated by Poles and non- Poles throughout Buffalo and Western New York.

See all stories on this topic

Preparing for a party
Cheektowaga Times - NY, USA

More on Dyngus Day...

Judge Ann Mikoll of the Chopin Singing Society agrees, noting that Dyngus Day is not a religious holiday.

"It's a social get-together that's based on a long-standing tradition over the centuries," Mikoll added.

The day has become so popular in the area that it inspired Jerry Darlak and the Buffalo Touch to record a song, "Everybody's Polish on Dyngus Day," that immediately became a local hit. One of the lead singers for the Touch, Ray Barsukiewicz, is credited with penning the lyrics.

See all stories on this topic

Other Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Dance Review: Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Jerusalem Post - Israel

Another modern ballet work set to the timeless music of Chopin, (though with yet another spelling of his first name!) on tour in Israel:

"Dear Fredric," which opened the evening, is perhaps a more ambitious work, set to music by Chopin. The strong and highly physical troop was challenged in this piece, which required stamina and rapid, powerful movements. With this athletic sprint approach, though, too little attention was dedicated to Chopin's spirit. It didn't take long before the congested dance phrases became tedious.
See all stories on this topic

Listening Post: Music from 'Heroes,' Switches, Mozart, Koz and more
Buffalo News - NY, United States

A Dyngus Day review of Alexander Tharaud's new Chopin/Mompou CD:

Chopin and Mompou, “Preludes and Etudes,” Alexandre Tharaud, piano (Harmonia Mundi). I like the thought that Tharaud gives to his music. He wants to perform Chopin’s 24 Preludes without a pause, so I’m guessing he recorded them that way — and you have to respect any pianist who doesn’t take advantage of modern technology to edit everything to death. Tharaud’s strength at the piano is his crisp, controlled tone. He can get wild, and sometimes his herky-jerky tempos can throw off the character of some of the more delicate pieces — the second of Chopin’s “Trois Nouvelles Etudes,” for instance. But he boldly brings out inner voices and draws your attention, gently, to harmonies you may have not noticed before. The approach gives poetry to the more harmonically challenging Mompou. ★★★ (M.K.G.)

See all stories on this topic

Chopin Videos:

Chopin Prelude e-minor
By Admin

Chopin on a dark Polish road...

... src="http://img.youtube.com/vi/atW2XWdR2b8/2.jpg" width="320" height="240" border="1" />Chopin Prelude e-minor

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Chopin Currency - March 23, 2008

Today's Yundi Li Installment:

Yundi Li, pianist
Financial Times - London,England,UK

From the Financial Times, Yundi Li shares his fashion faves:

I wore this today because it's comfortable but tonight (in Hong Kong to accept the South China Morning Post and Harper's Bazaar Style Award for Performing Arts) I will wear a Gucci suit. I like Gucci because it's fashionable and modern. I also buy Dior Homme because it has a unique and special look that I love. A classical musician has no choice but to wear a traditional outfit when performing. Armani sponsors the tailcoat I wear for performances....
See all stories on this topic

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews (Besides Yundi Li):

Frederica von Stade sings Pauline Viardot
San Francisco Chronicle - CA, USA

After all of the advance stories, a bona fide review of the Pauline Viardot program:

After performances in London and Paris, "Pauline Viardot and Friends" had its U.S. premiere Thursday at Herbst Theatre. With Marilyn Horne serving as armchair narrator and host, a la Alistair Cooke, the program unfolded as a genial, if sometimes labored, introduction to a figure who is surely new to most listeners. The emphasis landed where it belonged - on the variety of sweet-natured, charming, sometimes melodramatic and occasionally gripping music Viardot wrote.

Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, soprano Melody Moore and baritone Vladimir Chernov performed 14 selections by Viardot, and three by other composers. The Viardot pieces ranged from airy meditations on nature and a winsome Chopin mazurka transcription to a feverish "Incantation" and a love duet from her operetta "Cendrillon.
See all stories on this topic

Canadian piano virtuoso Louis Lortie performs Chopin Etudes on the ...
Ottawa Start (press release) - Ottawa,ON,Canada

Preview of the Canadian pianist's March 31 appearance in Ottawa...

Following a recital by Canadian pianist Louis Lortie of Chopin Etudes in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Financial Times wrote: “Better Chopin playing than this is not to be heard, not anywhere...."

See all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

Review: Chopin Vodka

By cnull

From "The Essential Blog for the Discriminating Drinker:"

You’re a famous 19th century composer. What are the odds that someone is going to take your good name and turn it into a vodka 150 years later?

The connection is Poland, where Chopin lived and vodka was (allegedly) born. Chopin is a traditional potato vodka, from Polish potatoes. Despite the fancy, frosted glass bottle, it has a very traditional flavor for potato vodkas, too. ...

Drinkhacker.com - http://www.drinkhacker.com

eternal sonata

By david carlton

Another review of the video game...

I pretty much decided I had to play it as soon as I heard that it took place in the imagination of a dying Frederic Chopin; they didn’t do as much with that theme as they could have, but there were other compensating virtues. ...

malvasia bianca - http://malvasiabianca.org

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Chopin Currency: March 22, 2008

Chopin & George Sand
Barre Montpelier Times Argus - Barre,VT,USA

A preview of a WordStage Vermont production of "Frédéric & George," — "an evening of letters, diaries, and memoirs penned by these two paradoxically matched lovers and some of their intimate circle."

"Mme. Sand, beware of Chopin! He is nothing less than a moral vampire!"

"You have no idea what Mme. Sand has managed to do with him in one summer! Consumption has seized that figure and turned it into a soul without a body. The poor creature does not see that this woman has the love of a vampire!"
See all stories on this topic

Young Chinese pianist shows his reverence for the masters
The Star-Ledger - NJ.com - Newark,NJ,USA

A preview of Yundi Li's scheduled appearances in Princeton and Newark, NJ, where he shares his knowledge of "rival" pianist Lang Lang:

Although there have been hints of rivalry between Li and Lang Lang, Li says they "bumped into each other at Beijing Airport, and it was the first time we met, about three years ago. We said, 'Let's go and hang around next time when we have time.' I think he's a talented pianist with his own style."

See all stories on this topic

Chopin to be performed at evening Dixie Forum ...
St. George Daily Spectrum - St. George,UT,US

A night of Chopin at Dixie State College in Utah, featuring DSC faculty member Dr. Nancy Allred and DSC alum Monica Hymas:

The duo will present “The Odyssey of Chopin’s Soul: The Four Ballades,” which will feature discussion on the history of these works. Hymas will perform Chopin’s "Ballade No. 1 in G Minor," and "Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major," while Dr. Allred will perform "Ballade No. 2 in F Major" and "Ballade No. 4 in F Minor."

See all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

ChopinConcerts in Castres

By LoGoRhythm(LoGoRhythm)

Blogger Lowri Blake muses on Chopin for cello in the south-west of France:

After a collection of short pieces and arrangements of music by Fauré, Debussy and Ravel, they played Chopin's Introduction and Polonaise Brillante Op.3. I was dreading hearing the usual souped- up fare (hybrid versions rewritten by various cellists who felt that the cello part was too unglamorous) but no, they gave a terrific account of the piece in its original form. Chopin's intention was to contrast the cello's beautiful melodic line with a more virtuosic piano part, not to compete with it.

brr brr brr...busy line - http://busyline.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Chopin Currency: March 21, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

At 90, 'Piano Jazz' personality going strong
Roanoke Times - Roanoke,VA,USA

Ageless pianist, author, and radio host Marian McPartland celebrates her 90th birthday, in grand style at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. She looks back on a career that began with Chopin:

From the very beginning of her musical life, McPartland has been easily able to absorb music. She learned to play piano mostly from listening to her mother play Chopin at home and seeking out the melodies and chords on her own. She received formal training at Guildhall School of Music in her native Great Britain when still in her teens, but the lure of jazz proved too strong to resist a gig playing in a four-piano vaudeville act. "My parents were horrified," she remembers. "But I was in show business now and that was that."

See all stories on this topic

Asada gets up to grab gold
Yahoo! Eurosport - London,UK

Tabith and Agosto falter, but Chopin serves Japan's Mao Asada well at the World Figure Skating Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden....

Asada slipped as she prepared for what was supposed to the first jump in her routine to Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, sliding into the boards instead of ...

See all stories on this topic

Misc. Chopiniana:

Three Deilmann Ships Sail the Elbe River this Summer
About - News & Issues - New York,NY,USA

Did you know there was a Chopin Cruise Liner? Now you do...

The MV Katharina von Bora and MV Frederic Chopin will cruise between Berlin and Prague, and the MV Dresden will sail between Hamburg and Dresden. ...

See all stories on this topic

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Chopin Currency - March 20, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Opera's elite celebrate music of Viardot
San Jose Mercury News - CA, USA

Another story on the Pauline Viardot stage show in San Francisco, with some fascinating insights from Marilyn Horne:

"She helped Wagner raise money for 'Tristan und Isolde.' She rewrote a lot of Chopin's music for voice - an entire book of mazurkas. Those were amazing things for a woman of that time."

See all stories on this topic

He fills halls and sells CDs, but marketing has triumphed over music
Globe and Mail - Canada

The Toronto critics continue to roast Yundi Li:

Chopin's Four Mazurkas, Op. 33 suffered the same insensitivities of style, with the addition of a failure to grasp the characteristic rhythm of the vigorous Polish dance form. Only the third of the four had any simplicity and command. All of these were accompanied by the subliminal but distinct sound of Arthur Rubenstein spinning in his grave....

He opened the slender first half of his program with Chopin's most shopworn Nocturne, the one in E flat, Op. 9, No. 2, and played it very badly indeed. ...
See all stories on this topic

Why Murray Perahia turned to Bach
Telegraph.co.uk - United Kingdom

Nice article on peerless pianist Perahia's interest in JSB. Perahia notes he's not the only one:

Bach, as Perahia realises, had an impact on music not just in the 18th century, but throughout the Romantic era of the 19th and beyond. "Composers took Bach as their bedrock," he says, "whether it's Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann or Chopin.

"I don't think there was a day when Chopin wasn't playing Bach. When Schumann went into depression, he wrote fugues, and he always told his wife, Clara, to study Bach. It was an important part of their musical make-up....

See all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

Betraying Bacon and Boating
By Jeremy Denk

Pianist and blogger Jeremy Denk (currently on the road with violinist Joshua Bell), waxes eloquent on Chopin's one-and-only Barcarolle:

Chopin writes a passage of drift which allows one motion to become another, a flight between ratios, a mysterious differential equation.

This transition is amazing partly because of its disengagement, because of the sensation that the foundations of the narrative have been removed. This transition is not essentially “musical.” It does not conform to the niceties of musical discourse, it does not attempt to be the smooth unnoticeable gearshift. Chopin deliberately removes us from the world of capital-M Music, in which he had allowed us to bathe.

I chose to program the Chopin Barcarolle (last week in lovely San Diego!) on the strength of a moment I wanted to seize, on a juicy crispy piece of bacon I once smelled in its interior. Ah, I remember the moment well: a student came in ...
- http://jeremydenk.net/blog

Eternal Sonata
By Kamisamaa(Kamisamaa)

An entry from Live Journal regarding Chopin's relationship with George Sand...

It is impossible to tell the story of Chopin’s life without the mention of this woman. George Sand was an extremely famous author in Paris who had already published numerous books. Her real name was Aurore Dudevant. ...
Recurring Reverie - http://kamisamaa99.livejournal.com/

Misc. Chopiniana:

Chopin Chorlton
By manchesterbars

Next time you're in Manchester, UK, ("the rock'n'goal capital of the world!") check out the Chopin Bar

Chopin - Manchester Road, Manchester, M21 9PG map classical music played in this new bar Hotels in Chorlton More bars in Chorlton, Manchester Top 10 bars and clubs in Manchester.
Manchester Bar Reviews - http://manchesterbars.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Chopin Currency: March 19, 2008

Chopin News, Rants, Raves, and Reviews:

Two piano stars, but only one dazzles
Toronto Star - Ontario, Canada

No, it's *not* Lang Lang; this time Yundi Li is being compared to "Macedonian wonder Simon Trpceski:"

Beneath the metallic glint of the Steinway was emptiness, like puff pastry without any custard filling.

Li has recorded Chopin before, and very beautifully at that, but his performances of a Nocturne and four Mazurkas from Op. 33 were not even phoned in, but text-messaged in, with vacuous emoticons substituting for the real thing.

It is possible that Li was having a bad night - or a bad first half. But I didn’t wait to find out more. Not when Trpceski, who has performed dazzlingly with both the Symphony and Music Toronto several times before, beckoned.

By the end of his strange and sharp-edged pairing of the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante by Frédéric Chopin, I just wanted to get away. ...
See all stories on this topic

Cemetery Gates
Cleveland Free Times - Cleveland,OH,USA

Review of documentary film Forever:

A meditative, strangely beautiful documentary about the importance of art in life, Forever is set principally at France's fabled Pere-Lachaise cemetery. At Pere-Lachaise, visitors show up daily to pay their respects at the graves of everyone from Chopin and Moliere to Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. Although running just 98 minutes, director Heddy Honigmann's film could conceivably go on for hours, even days. (It would make a fantastic gallery installation piece.)

See all stories on this topic

Chopin in the Blogosphere:

Free and legal MP3s from Grand Archives, Brooke Waggoner, and A ...
By Jeremy(Jeremy)

Profile of Nashville singer-songwriter Chopinaphile Brooke Waggoner:

Brooke Waggoner may be the only singer/songwriter in Nashville who cites Chopin as an influence, never mind both Chopin and ELO. So she is not a typical Nashville musician; she's from Louisiana but she's not a typical Louisiana musician ...

Fingertips - http://fingertipsmusic.blogspot.com/

an amateur classical music collection
By failed misanthrope(failed misanthrope)

From the "Failed Misanthrope's" latest blog entry, containing lots of Chopin:

I’m posting this because as a pseudo / wanna-be / dilettante classical music critic-listener, I feel that some sort of full disclosure is needed. Aside from a few sad facts—I was not a music major, I don’t play any instrument, I know very few musicians—these are the classical albums I listen to:

Chopin Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 and Complete Orchestral Works, Krystian Zimmerman, Claudio Arrau, etc., pianists (Deutsche Grammophon, 2 CD set) 81. Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1, Liszt Piano Concerto No. ...
The Failed Misanthrope - http://theamateurmisanthrope.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Chopin Currency - March 18th, 2008

Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Belbin, Agosto taking a classical approach
Boston Globe - United States

Chopin turns out to be the missing ingredient in the ice-dancing tandem's Quest for Gold....

[Tanith] Belbin and [Ben] Agosto are the most successful dance team the US has had, and the Olympic silver medalists seem to break new ground every season. But when coach Igor Shpilband suggested they consider a classical piece for this year's free dance, they worried it might be too much of a stretch.

They turned down some Bach he suggested. When he came back with Chopin, though, they agreed to try it, and the flowing, romantic program has turned out to be the perfect showcase for their skills. It highlights their chemistry, expression, and speed, their traditional strengths. But it has also allowed them to show a maturity and depth of emotion they didn't have three or four years ago.

See all stories on this topic

Prince of the piano worthy of crown
Albany Times Union - Albany,NY,USA

Hey! It's another Yundi Li review!

"The 25-year-old piano prince then caught the audience's attention with his Chopin: four of the Mazurkas, followed by the well-known Nocturne in E flat and "Andante Spianato" and "Grande Polonaise." The Mazurkas are more relaxed and reflective pieces and quickly showed Yundi is more than a technically proficient virtuoso. He was particularly effective in the fourth number, which recalls the work of Robert Schumann, a friend of the composer."

The young Chinese musician won the International Chopin Competition some years ago, and has made four recordings for the prestigious Deutsche Gramophon ...
See all stories on this topic

Lang Lang delights, confounds with his individualism
Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA

Hey! It's another Lang Lang review!

Sure, his recital of Schubert, Bartók, Debussy and Chopin was full of strangely mannered playing. But there's a trade-off: His ideas, all his own, are convincingly expressed...

....Here, on this night, marginalization of classical music was a specious myth. After a particularly convulsive and artless reading of Chopin's Polonaise in A flat major (Op. 53), "Heroic," an audience of seniors, teens, hipsters, nerds, 20ish Asian girls, aficionados, newbies, and a surprising number of 6- to 9-year-olds jumped to their feet. Whistles and cheers. Flowers. Flashbulbs.

Who else on the classical stage can claim as close a connection with as diverse a public? Right now, maybe no one.
See all stories on this topic

Chopin Videos:

Artur Rubinstein Plays Chopin Polonaise “Heroic”
By admin
Lovely excerpt from the 1947 movie Carnegie Hall. Great close-ups of Rubinstein's fingers in action, though the music is quite obviously dubbed...

From picture “Carnegie Hall”. ShareThis.
Next VDO - http://nextvdo.com/

Literary Chopin:

By Frederic Francois Chopin(Frederic Francois Chopin)

Another installment from the pianopoet...

[Private//Easily Hackable] I have been thinking about that world again....The world I once called just a passing dream. Traveling in that world, I faded faster than it. It was mostly due to my physical state more so than my mental state ...
The piano is his way of life - http://pianopoet.livejournal.com/

About Chopin2010

My photo
....is a roundup of all things Chopin leading up to the 200th anniversary of the matchless Polish composer for the piano in March 2010.