What are you listening to today,
and what drew you to that particular piece, performer, or genre?

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I love that piece, Bethany - Ondine!   I especially like the climax and the part where she sings her plaintive song, then jumps back into the water, laughing.  That piece is one of my favorites - it's very hard to get the Ondine water theme quiet and smooth enough.   Even though when it's played well it sounds easier than Jeux d'Eau, it's much more difficult to master that delicate wave of sound.   I can't wait to hear you play it!

I am listening to a lot of music performances on Youtube now and am coming to find that just about every piece of music ever composed which is worthwhile is getting played there. Yay! I began playing piano because of the movie the Sting, which featured the lovely ragtime of Scott Joplin, who’s rightly considered to be the greatest ragtime composer of all time. But there were other great ragtime composers, and the one who is considered the second best is a fellow named Joseph Lamb. Here’s one that is especially good, and an especially interesting performance. “Ragtime Nightingale,” which has a nocturne-like feel. The performer in this case, John Arpin, adds some classical flair to the piece, but keeps the spirit of the original composition intact. Gorgeous! About 5 minutes

http://youtu.be/wLhHUJebzII

Bethany, that is so exciting!  Mephisto is one of my favorites - it's so much fun for both the performer and the audience and there is not one wasted note in it!  A lot of Liszt seems to me to sacrifice musicality for showmanship, but in Mephisto even the most showy sections are incredible music as well.  What a great piece for a composer to be playing.  You'll add a wealth of new harmonic ideas to your already extensive composer's toolbox.     Enjoy all those wonderful chromatics, the humongous leaps, the wild violin tuning up, and that delicious waltz section, especially when it returns with all its multi-octave embellishments.  Can't wait to hear you play it!!

I agree with Harmonia - Mephisto is indeed a masterpiece from a composer I don't normally listen to because of his overly showy style. A bit of trivia, there is actually a 70s horror movie named after the piece, and it features the music all throughout. Starring... wait for it... wait for it... Alan Alda.

As a side-note: one of the biggest Liszt discoveries in the last year for me was his "Nuages Gris" (I hadn't heard of it until I heard a guitar player (Ray Egea) made a cover of it on his guitar and posted it on youtube!). I cannot think of a piece that is more "untypical" of Liszt than that one (of the pieces I'm familiar with that is). No technical virtuosity, losing tonality, very experimental for his time and very dark, haunting, visionary music.

Wow, Stefaan, you are right!  Slow, deep, moving, playable -- a very effective piece.  This is a great find, indeed!  The harmonies are perfect to express the grey clouds.   I've added this miniature treasure to RepertoireBank, with a performance and free score.  I'll definitely use this piece in teaching now.  Thank you, Stefaan!!

I recently got into a discussion with another composer on another forum about Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the progressive rock group, about what I think is one of the most wonderful compositions the group produced, Tarkus, a 20 minute long work which to me seems to be an example of great classical composition for the modern era (it is a mere 40 years old). Composed in the early era of synthesizers (1971), the piece has many things to attract your attention - odd time signatures (much of it is in 5/4 and 9/8) - lots of quartal and quintal harmonies - multiple movements which vary greatly in tone and tenor - a tremendous amount of energy - great use of dissonance - the very substantial and meaty keyboard playing of Keith Emerson, on the Moog Synthesizer and organ. It's a great piece by a great band http://youtu.be/WKNOlDtZluU



Gav Brown said:

I recently got into a discussion with another composer on another forum about Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the progressive rock group, about what I think is one of the most wonderful compositions the group produced, Tarkus, a 20 minute long work which to me seems to be an example of great classical composition for the modern era (it is a mere 40 years old). Composed in the early era of synthesizers (1971), the piece has many things to attract your attention - odd time signatures (much of it is in 5/4 and 9/8) - lots of quartal and quintal harmonies - multiple movements which vary greatly in tone and tenor - a tremendous amount of energy - great use of dissonance - the very substantial and meaty keyboard playing of Keith Emerson, on the Moog Synthesizer and organ. It's a great piece by a great band http://youtu.be/WKNOlDtZluU

Gav, ELP was one of my favorite bands! They were the Barnum and Bailey of Stadium Rock. They started out playing Tarkus at tempo and gradually ratcheted it up a good 25 BPM over the years (like athletes going for their personal best).

If you search on youtube for Tarkus Electone you will see a slew of young Japanese girls playing the heck out of this piece on the Electone organ, an instrument the American market has never seen. I think it must be a graduation requirement in Japanese elementary schools because they're all doing it!. It's very humbling, to say the least.

I'm in the Christmas mood for this great song sung by Diane Krall. Don't you just love it when the arranger brings in the strings? It's like a whisper and a caress, but Wow! I think the arranger is the great Johnny Mandel.

http://youtu.be/KdUcqLDtwoA

KenNickels, that is the oddest thing! Apparently there is a whole industry in Japan devoted to turning out 9-14 year old girls who can play ELP Tarkus on the Electone, an instrument which seems to me like something Spock would have played in the original Star Trek! I also am humbled. Thanks for sharing!

http://youtu.be/R0Xv6uSWN9A
Hear is the original harp/chorus version.  So many choirs must use piano for this delicate work. (ours did)

[WARNING:   Turn down your volume for the awful AD at beginning.   Sorry.  then hit pause, relax
settle in and be amazed]
such stunning word painting by Heitzeg!   and the ending tears me up every time….. you not only see the
snow covered scene…. but each snow flake (no piano could do this!) falls so serene…. words fail.  It is why
we have music.

LIttle Tree    by Steven Heitzeg   for chorus and harp

The poem is by e.e. cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see          i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look          the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

(I feel the over the top celebrity eric whitachre did a setting also… but frankly singsfar behind this Heitzig work.     thoughts?)      oh and merry christmas  happy solstice to you all!

How lovely, William!  Thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas gift of this little gem.  I thought I knew every poem e. e. cummings wrote, but both the poem and the setting were new to me.   By the way, there was no ad at the beginning for me -- thank heavens!   I haven't heard any other settings of this poem, but this one is perfect.   Have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year's and all the other exciting days of this season!!

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