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

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Chopin Currency - April 3, 2008

Chopin News, Previews, and Reviews....

Answering Bach’s Call With Color and Stamina
New York Times - United States

Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang impresses at Carnegie's Zankel Hall...

Even for the most gifted young pianist, it takes a lot to be noticed. Xiayin Wang, a doctoral student at the Manhattan School of Music, is clearly doing something right. In her native China, where she trained at the Shanghai Conservatory, Ms. Wang took first place in numerous competitions. Since her arrival here in 1997, she has added further prizes to her tally, played Carnegie Hall several times and released a well-regarded recital CD. [...]

She offered a well-wrought account of Scriabin’s Fantasy in B minor, the work of a young, earnest Chopin acolyte. She found considerably more poetry in Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat, underscoring its affecting melancholy through the dreamy reverie of her opening bars and her beautifully flexible phrasing throughout.

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Yundi Li shows more fire than poetry
MiamiHerald.com - Miami,FL,USA

Mr. Li goes against type in Miami...

Winner of the International Chopin Competition in 2000, Li offered the Polish composer's four Op. 33 Mazurkas. The perennial Mazurka in D major had the whirl of the ballroom, Li's firmly pointed left-hand adding a rustic edge to the dance rhythms.

Yet while polished and well played, considering this artist's reputation in Chopin his Mazurkas were a disappointment -- generalized and lacking the individual touch and subtle coloring to raise them above any number of well-drilled performances.

Li's Nocturne in E flat major was sensitively done with a hushed glowing coda and he showed his Lisztian bona fides in a steel-fingered account of Schumann's song Widmung.

Chopin's Andante Spianato proved more successful, the cascading notes as fresh and even as a flowing spring. The ensuing Grand Polonaise Brillant was a deft melding of bravura and elegance, with Li sailing through the tortuous complexities of the coda with impressive panache.

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Japanese piano virtuoso Yu Kosuge’s Savannah debut
Connect Savannah.com - GA,USA

Thoughtful interview with the pianist enroute to her Savannah Music Festival debut, triggering memories of earlier visits to the USA...

A good friend of mine, a cellist and conductor, was at the Mayo clinic for cancer treatment. I went there to visit him after in 2005 after my recital at Carnegie Hall. They had three or four excellent grand pianos in the lobbies, and I played on every one of them. I particularly remember the moment when he and many of the other patients came downstairs to listen to me. They wanted to hear more and more. I played Chopin’s Nocturne, and I could see my friend’s tears.

He was a very bright person and he didn’t lose hope until the end, but I realized how much he really suffered. It was the last time I saw and could play for him. It wasn’t a concert but at moments like those it becomes clear that it is so important to share our love for music, and how beautiful what we do actually is.

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Ghostbusting at the Queen Anne Hotel Pt. 2: Haunted by Onions
SF Weekly - San Francisco,CA,USA

Chopin provides the soundtrack to a Poltergeist Pursuit in Frisco...

When last I left off, I was about to enter a haunted room in the Queen Anne Hotel (see last week's Bouncer for part one of this column) after drinking at the Hotel Majestic. I went there with the San Francisco Ghost Society because the hotel is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Mary Lake.


You'd think I'd be freaking during all of this, but I wasn't that surprised. I believe in ghosts, after all. Mostly I just lay there and snoozed to the strains of Chopin.

Then something terrifying happened.
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Chopin in the Blogosphere:

Since Day 1
By admin

From the Alternative Music Blog, a post-modern view of the music industry in Chopin's era..

I was talking with a young pianist the other day about composers like Paganini and Chopin, who tended to specialize on a particular instrument. Paganini was the business model for this era of composers and he took violin technique ‘where no man has gone before.’ He also wrote mostly violin pieces. No symphonies, not much chamber music; I can only think of a duet for violin and guitar.
Ditto for Chopin, only for piano. I can only think of a ‘cello sonata and the rest was piano music,solo piano pieces long and short and piano concertos.
I ventured my theory that this was due, in part, to the fact that the music business had already become extremely formatted....
dizzyobrian.org Alternatives in Music - http://www.dizzyobrian.org

It’s Chopin again
By admin

Music and memories triggered by Fryderyk, and a classic video to boot....

There was the sound of Chopin’s Nocturne No.2 in E flat major from apartment B part of the house when I came home. It was a little choppy, but it didn’t stop me from falling back to the year of 2002, the year that I was frantically trying to apply for a college in the US. I was taking buses and trains all over the place to take exams like SAT or TOEFL, and on those trips I’d listen to a CD that has a collection of Chopin’s music. With the music playing I’d be thinking about something like, “wow I’m traveling,” or “I’m so far away from home I’m independent now,” or “I wonder if that boy is thinking of me now” stuff like this.

art omelette - http://www.art-omelette.com/

A Fool's Day Squib
By Martin Langeland(Martin Langeland)

Memories of a classic April 1 gag starring Chopin and the CBC...

Chopin perform the Minute Waltz in something like 68 seconds. This was more than the title called for, but rather less than the vast majority of pianists managed, as somebody hastily sent to the disk library for examples proved.

Over and again was the wonder that we listened to Chopin himself.
And what did we think of that?

Then the canker worm raised its head. A listener called in to report that Bob might want to examine the mast head.

There it was: "Issue 0401." The rage for a lost penny wasn't in it.

Dum Luk's - http://dumluks.blogspot.com/

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