Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chamber Trio Recital

I just heard Shostakovich's piano trio and Brahms trio in C major. It was performed by Dan Rizner, Eric Edberg, and May Phang. The Shostakovich was great and very dark considering it was written during Stalins reign. You can hear the drama created throughout the piece and really visualize what was going through his head during the composing of the piece. I had heard the Brahms before but it was performed well. If you havn't heard the Shostakovich, do a backround check on it first and then listen. It blew me away.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

oops tornados threw me off

I forgot to post....my bad. However, this weekend I did a lot of listening to james brown to keep me from going crazy in the car while I was going through the tornados. I find it so interesting how a man with so little melodic and harmonic material can keep his music so interesting. No matter how repetitive the music, the group is always swinging and I commend him for this. Not just anyone can play funk and really make it swing. (the energy level probably has something to do with the fact that he was on a lot of cocaine...) nevertheless, I have yet to figure out what keeps his music driving. Anyway, I don't really know what else to say about him other than him, I can't go into any form issues because there really is none....

sorry for the boring (and late) post

AJ

gotta go practice for proficiencies....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hmm so I'm a bit late on this one...

There were many concerts and recitals in the previous week, but I think I'll do a CD of Albinoni Concertos...yet more oboe?

Concerto for Oboe in D minor- Having worked on this concerto I know it relatively well. I really enjoy Albinoni's use of sequences in his composition, they are literally everywhere in the work. The second movement is very placid, while the third movement is in an energetic 6/8.
Concerto for Two Oboes in F major- I know everyone is thinking of that joke about getting two oboes in tune and shooting one of them right? Anyway oboe duets are incredibly vibrant and really fun to play. The two lines usually move in similar motion in arpeggios or in, of course, sequences.
Concerto for Oboe in C major- This concerto would be a good way to start a recital. This concerto is joyful, bright, yet simple. A few technical spots provide that excitement for the performer.
Concerto for Two Oboes in G major- This is one of my favorite pieces in all of the oboe repertiore, partially because of the recording I have. The first oboe enters with a sparkling scale, followed by the second oboe in echo. The two lines then intertwine to form a contrapuntal network of echos and sequences.
Concerto for Oboe in B-flat major- Common to Albinoni's concerti, this one has a jubilant first movement followed by an adagio in minor. The work ends with a triple meter allegro, most likely to please the audience with a dance-like movement.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Smash Hits of the Early 90's

So it's been a while since I've last blogged, I'm thinking two or three weeks. It's just so hard to remember to do it. (Here's a fantastic blog that COULD make up for ALL the blogs i missed!)

So this weekend, my house had it's formal. We went to Clifty Falls State Park, which is in Madison, IN (about 3 hours south of Greencastle).

Now, while I had an awesome time, the DJ we had wasn't the best I've experienced. He was rather old, and his selection of music was...well, old as well. A large majority of his music was from the early 90s, which, while I love going down memory lane every now and then, wasn't exactly the best choice of music to be played.

Some of the "hits" he played included "Shoop" by Salt n Peppa', "Mambo no. 5" by Lou Begga, and "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls.

Each and every one of these songs hold a special place in my heart, because I can remember the first time i heard these songs...some time in middle school...and I remember all the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders jammin to the music of the times.

Good times were had by all, but I think the 90's have passed us...and the "feel good" times should go away...asap

Adios!

Mozart Concertos

Since one of my proficiency pieces is the first movement of Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2, I have been doing a good amount of listening to our friend Mozart. His concertos were written for his friend and virtuosic horn player, Ignaz Leutgeb, from Salzburg. If you ever get to purchase some horn music, be sure to get the edition that includes the remarks to his friend in a few of his movements (Schirmer prints it I believe). They make the music much more amusing when you reading insults like “Try this you ugly pig” (or something to that effect) next to a challenging run. Suddenly the piece becomes quite a bit more amusing. On the first page of the movement of the concerto that I am playing for proficiencies, Mozart wrote “Leitgeb Esel” (or “Silly ass Leitgeb”). You can hear his sense of humor throughout the piece both in the horn part and throughout the orchestra.

The first movements of the concertos are in sonata form. The piece that I am playing for proficiencies follows this trend. These movements can generally be characterized by their virtuosity in the horn part. The second movements are usually marked Andante or Romance and are slower and show off the sound of the horn through long lyric phrases. The last movements are almost always in 6/8 and rondo form. These pieces seem to bring us back to the origins of horn music, emulating the horn calls. The simplicity with which Mozart wrote was perfect for the horn and its sound. These pieces have become forever a part of the horn player’s repertoire.

No discussion of the Mozart horn concertos would be complete without Shua’s response every time he hears one of Mozart’s concertos in Eb (or in any key for that matter). Shua hypothesizes that Mozart was too lazy to change the key of the concertos (this should have been very easy since everything was natural horn then) and so obviously the correct response is “Mozart, you lazy bastard.” Thank you Shua for your timely addition to my blog.

"Miracle World" by Adam K. Hilkert and Timothy L. Fox

This is an epic ballad written by myself and Tim Fox for our musical "CYAHPIT." This is the number where the characters Elmo and The Vandyman, our tragic hero, sing a duet. In our playwright's production, in which Tim and I are the directors, Elmo will be played by Dan Burke and The Vandyman will be played by Chris Simerman. They both start out singing the melifluous melody. Then they harmonize together on the bridge with a heavily chorded backing vocal line under them. Next, they harmonize the melodies together with contrasting lyrics, written by Tim. Finally, they end on a grand finale outro, which ends on a high 'f', sung by Elmo, which is a Counter Tenor line.

I listened to this piece over and over again while revising it in Finale, and while Tim wrote lyrics for it. The music is inspired by that of Amy Gaither-Hayes, wife of Dr. Andrew Hayes, which is the brand of light christian rock. The lyrics are permeated with innuendo and wit. Tim's charm is written all over the piece, and is altered by the clarity of yours truly. It is a smooth ride into the world of pure genius. So, make sure that you see it in live performance at the Playwright's Festival, during the first weekend in May!

Evelyn Glenni - Greatest Hits

For those of you who dont now who Evelyn Glennie is, she is one of the most widely known mallet soloists of rour current day. The thing that is the most amazing... is she's legally deaf!!! I've been listening to her Greatest Hits CD quite regularly lately because I've played a few of the songs on this CD and it's always nice to hear them being played.... correctly. Some of the key songs that I suggest you listen to are Rhythm Song (song I auditioned at DPU with), Flight of the Bumblebee, Marimba Spiritual, and the finale of my sophomore jury, MICHI!! Her performane of Michi is absolutely amazing. She takes full advantage of the composers marks to improvise on the given melody, and what she is able to do with the acoustics and harmonies on the marimba is aboslutely mind boggling. I've been able to figure out some of the things that she is doing and I've incorporated them into my own performance of the piece. As well, rhythm song is hauntingly melodic... yet again it's amazing how she can judge the level of volume she's playing at when she's deaf. Evelyn Glennis is an amazing musician and my hat goes off to her for all that she has achieved. I strongly suggest you listen to a few of her songs from this album and really keep in mind that she's deaf... You'll be absolutely amazed.

Emily German...

On Saturday April 15th, Emily German gave an excellent recital, accompanied by Stephanie Gurga. Her program (aboout an hour long) consisted of works by Pergolesi, Brahms, Debussy and Korngold. It was quite obvious that Emily and Stephanie spent a lot of time together as all of their entrances and endings were right together.
As an accompanist myself, I was really listening to Stephanie and she was doing an excellent job. Her musicality through-out the entire recital was amazing, and her voicing was also incredible. At many times I felt that Stephanie was into the music more than Emily. Unfortunately, that was one down fall of Emily's. Many times throughout the concert it seemed as though she did not want to be there. She was very quick to begin and end all of the pieces and she just didn't seem to really be into them. This obviously could be nerves, but it just seemed that she was not very enthused to be there or about the repertoir.
My favorite piece of the recital was the Sonata in G minor by Debussy. I felt that this was by far the most musical piece of the entire recital and Emily and Stephanie were working very well together on this piece. Overall I thought this was a great recital I just thought that Emily could be a little happier to be there!

James Galway

So this week I listened to James Galway's cd "Meditations". My mom is James Galway obsessed and is always asking me when I'm going to be able to play like that...which doesn't help at all, but at least she's interested....

anyways. I have a bunch of his cds but this one is my favorite as it doesn't have his usual cheesy pop-ish tunes.

My favorite piece on the cd is Rodrigo's "Fantasia para un gentilhombre" (fantasy for a gentleman). I would love to have the chance to play this someday. The emotion in it is so high and then use of instrumentation is very complimentary to the moods portrayed.

Of course, it's not a Galway cd without the Pachelbel cannon. This version of it is pretty decent and therefore not as monatanous as it can sometimes be.
My favorite thing about James Galway is the arrangements he makes and/or finds for flute. This cd has Chopin's Nocturne In E flat, Op. 9 No. 2 on it and the arranging is really well done.

The cd is nice to listen to because it spans music from Vivaldi and Handel through Mozart and Schubert up to Debussy. I guess if you don't like listening to flute music then you wouldn' t enjoy it, but it was a relaxer when I was driving back to school through tornados.

Final Concerto Concert

WOOO ORCHESTRA!

The final concerto competition was last Wednesday- congrats to all the winners!!! The concert was amazing.
Started with Nathan playing Beethoven. He did quite well, I was impressed. See Keith for further comments.

Stacey sang a piece in English! which was nice. The piece was amazing. I got goosebumps. literally. The piece was called "Ain't it a pretty night" and I immdiately noticed that Stacey's dress was like the night too! I thought that was a very mood-inspiring touch, whether she meant to do that or not.

Ann Marie played Medellsohn's piano concerto in g minor. This piece was the one i was most familiar with for two reasons: 1. Keith played it last year and 2. I accompanied Ann Marie for the preliminaries and finals. She played amazingly. Talking to her afterwards, we were reminisicing about all the rehearsals we had and the story line we made up for the piece. I could tell she was really in the zone until this one scale she missed a few notes and it threw her off for a measure or two. But she got right back on. WOO ANN MARIE!

Keith played the same concerto that Nathan did. They both played it very well, and it never ceases to amaze me how the same piece can be interpreted so differently. I was upstairs listening to Keith warm up/ play through everything/ freak out 15 minutes before the conert started. There was one particular part in the cadenza that I thought Keith played really well. Maybe it was just because hearing it with Nathan, I didn't like the interpretation he had as much, but there's a part in the left hand that jumps around a lot. Keith plays it with a lot of bounce and it puts much more energy into the piece.

Liz sang a beautiful German song. I think her stage presence is superior to most other vocalists here. She takes the character of her piece very strongly and it really engages the audience. Even if they dont understand what she's saying.

Brett closed the concert with Gershiwn. His piece reminded me of video game music- pretty freaking cool. It was a lot harder to hear the piano over the orchestra in this concerto and that was a little disappointing. But the parts that could be heard (which was the majority of the piece) really did remind me of a video game. I really liked it.

All in all, concertos rock. and I'm rather disappointed that I wont be here next year. But oh wait, I'll be in Vienna. That makes it ok.

Little Earthquakes

So...i feel the need to blog....becaaaaause it's been about 3 weeks...

This week - Tori Amos's "Little Earthquakes"..one of the best debut albums ever put out by an artist. She's absolutely amazing..writes and play all her own music. and she only plays those pianos that have the extra bass notes on them that are black...Bosen..something or other....anyway..she has a distinct style and voice.. and she is just a phenomenal lyricist.
"China" - an ethereal sounding piece with soft piano that has chimey high passages and constant sound of strings that are somewhat dronish...this is about as close to a ballad that she gets ..china is used a metaphor for the distance she feels from her loved one..she says...how can you expect me to love you when you build a great wall around you..
"Happy Phantom" - the best song on the album...just a carefree somewhat nonsensical song that sings the praises of just living your life freely and without regret... "they say confuscious does his crossword witha a pen"..."if i die today i'll be the happy phantom..and i'll go chasin the nuns out in the yard.." "i'll get a ticket to the universal opera with Judy Garland taking Buddha by the hand"... the piano part is what makes this song what it is as well...its kind of parlor ragtime is..with a steady pattern in the base and lots of quick syncopated rhythms in the right hand...
"Leather" - i picture this song in a cabaret setting..she keeps her voice lower and more breathy and the beat being kept in the bass....the constant chord chord chord chord..it seems like a simple piece at first with just the piano her voice and low strings..but then an electric guitar shows up to had some texture and syncopation
"little earthquakes" - it starts off with a slow rumbling sound...always with piano..but this time there's timpani that beats out a constant dotted quarter, eighth, quarter, 2 sixteenth note pattern...the the eruption comes when she adds like a small chorus to her sound and strings and electric guitar string eighth notes that teeter on do ti do ti do ti do over the more powerful drums and she repeats again and again..give me my life give me myself again
"me and a gun" - this song is very haunting..she sings it acappella and it's in a minor key with a folksongish feel to it.....its her artistic representation of what she went through as she was getting raped. (tori amos is a spokesperson for R.A.I.N.N)....."these things go thru your head when a man is on your back...and you're pushed on your stomach...."...this is really a song that needs to be listened to first-hand...
"silent all these years" - in my opinion..this song is the prettiest piano melody she's written ..off beat chords over a constant blur of arppeggios in her left hand....and there's also actual chimes in this one ..i really cant seem to get the meaning of her words in this one..."but what if i'm a mermaid in these jeans of yours with her name still on them.....sometimes i hear my voice and it's been silent all these years"....from the ourburst that comes in the middle of the calm of the music..when she is practically banging on the piano and belting..and saying "years go by and i still keep waiting"..its someone who's had something done to them for a long time that they just dont want to deal with anymore and need to find what it takes in them to say something
"winter" - the chorus is the most beautiful part of this song and the only part i really pay attention to.....whew..i am sleepy...

Starsailor- On the Outside

So a friend suggested I listen to the band Starsailor, an Indie rock quartet from the UK, so here are my first impressions as I listened to their lastest album “On the Outside”:
“In the Crossfire”-same rhythm, harmonies, and instruments as Coldplay’s “Yellow”, I thought I was actually listening to Coldplay at first
“Counterfeit Life”- could not understand the lyrics, percussion too overpowering; used the same rhythm as “In the Crossfire” and do not vary the rhythms at all
“In My Blood”- drastic change in mood; does not start with the overpowering percussion and just contains a very simple 3 or 4 note melody; backups repeat the lead after every line in the refrain like in a gospel song
“Faith Hope Love”- good lyrics, lead sounds like he shouting throughout the piece, does not show a good quality to his voice and kind of painful to listen to
“Way Back Home”- uses a synthesized organ sound which makes the song unique and contains a descending bass line throughout the piece
“Keep Us Together”- call and response between soloist and backup
“White Light”- a little too repetitive of everything…lyrics, melody, rhythm, ect but the beginning shows off the soloists vocals and is a neat intro
“Jeremiah”- more laid back song with acoustic guitar and sythesizer