The risibly random ramblings of an apanthropic hemegomisian hadeharian polymathetischian technophilic tonopoeic transhumanist logolept.

A new work for solo piano

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 0 comments

The title comes from the reported ancient practice of setting aside a stone for every day of life: white, if a good or fortunate day; black, if not. At the close of day, or of life, the stones are counted, and the day, or the life, considered fortunate or not depending on which color predominates. (See here, for example.) As moods and experiences fluctuate through my own life, I am not certain which color so far describes my course; nor, perhaps, am I even sure which is predominant in my music, as I slip from major to minor modes and round again. The title is inspired by that consideration. And the tabulation of counting stones? What more fitting day for such a name than today, the Election.

For those of you who have followed my work, you may have noticed that for a while now the bulk of my releases have consisted of arrangements—Bach, Mozart, Salieri, Beethoven (or here or here), Grieg, et al. That changes with this post, as here, at last, is a return to original work. The credit, inspiration, and ultimately, the dedication for this goes to Ekaterina, to whom, all my thanks.

You may hear the track here

Trold på Troldhaugen

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 0 comments

Edvard Grieg wrote a number of lyrical pieces for solo piano, sixty or more if memory serves. I cannot speak for all of them, having not yet heard the lot, but many are quite good. Interestingly, we actually have a few recordings, from 1903 or so, of the composer himself playing his own works, including, or at least a part of, the piece which has taken my interest most recently, the relatively well-known "Bryllupsdag på Troldhaugen"—"the wedding day at the troll-house", which was the name of the composer's own home. Unfortunately, that recording is rather noisy due to the distortion of age, and since, as above, it's but a fragment, I suggest instead, for comparison here if you are not familiar with the original piece, a recording from 1929 of a performance by Arthur de Greef, who was not only a pupil of the great Liszt through the 1870s and '80s but was an intimate of Grieg for some three decades and the composer's favorite performer and interpreter of Griegs' piano works. I link to de Greef's performance below to reveal what the original sounds like when played as the composer intended.

But comparison to what, you may be asking. Well, to what the piece has become under my own "corrupting" influence, having had my way with it. I finished this arrangement a couple of days ago and have today finished a recording of the same. It's actually still for piano, but if you listen to the two, perhaps you can hear the difference?

Granted, my recording hasn't the grace of de Greef or the Grieg recording, but perhaps it's still not entirely without some merit or interest of its own.

New Old Music

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 0 comments

Recently, as an exercise, I made a new arrangement of the allegretto grazioso, third movement, of Mozart's piano sonata in B♭ major, K. 333, in which I chose to change the key but more to the point the modality, shifting the piece to a minor mode, and slowing it somewhat to better accommodate the minor. Getting that to the point that I was at least relatively satisfied with it, I chose to arrange the work for string quintet instead of solo piano. For the curious, the result can be heard here.

By contrast, here is Horowitz interpretation of the original:

For the purpose of this post, however, those are really neither here nor there but as impetus for what came after. Thinking about the situation, reminded by a reference to the play "Amadeus", I thought it a shame and unfair that old Salieri's works remain so widely unknown today, despite that, at least in my opinion, many of them are quite good. So I found myself thinking I ought to give him a little exposure as well to counterbalance the Mozart piece.

My available scores for his works are rather small, and recordings of any even more so, thus my options were few, but I settled on what I thought would be a workable option: I would do the two small movements, the Kyrie and Sanctus, from his Mass no. 1 in D major. The only score I have of it, however, is only that for SATB choir and organ, so that is the source I worked from (I'm aware there is a volume available that includes an orchestra accompaniment for this work, but I do not have access to it, so it does not inform the works which follow below).

As with the Mozart, I chose to change the modality to minor—B♭ minor in this case. Only minor modifications were needed for it, outside of the change of mode, but I reworked the organ for piano, and arranged the vocal lines for strings.

Once finished, I found I kept returning to the idea of the rest of the mass to the point that I began working on another piece, and then another, and so on until I had finished the whole work. I may yet tweak a phrase here or there, but for the nonce, here is a (possibly preliminary) recording of the new Mass in B♭ minor.

Fame vs Anonymity

Thursday, June 26, 2008 4 comments

Da saß ich an deinen Büchern, Eigensinniger, und versuchte sie zu meinen wie die andern, die dich nicht beisammen lassen und sich ihren Anteil genommen haben, befriedigt. Denn da begriff ich noch nicht den Ruhm, diesen öffentlichen Abbruch eines Werdenden, in dessen Bauplatz die Menge einbricht, ihm die Steine verschiebend.

Junger Mensch irgendwo, in dem etwas aufsteigt, was ihn erschauern macht, nütz es, daß dich keiner kennt. Und wenn sie dir widersprechen, die dich für nichts nehmen, und wenn sie dich ganz aufgeben, die, mit denen du umgehst, und wenn sie dich ausrotten wollen, um deiner lieben Gedanken willen, was ist diese deutliche Gefahr, die dich zusammenhält in dir, gegen die listige Feindschaft später des Ruhms, die dich unschädlich macht, indem sie dich ausstreut.

Bitte keinen, daß er von dir spräche, nicht einmal verächtlich. Und wenn die Zeit geht und du merkst, wie dein Name herumkommt unter den Leuten, nimm ihn nicht ernster als alles, was du in ihrem Munde findest. Denk: er ist schlecht geworden, und tu ihn ab. Nimm einen andern an, irgendeinen, damit Gott dich rufen kann in der Nacht. Und verbirg ihn vor allen.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge, "Ein Briefentwurf".

There I sat at your books, obstinate man, and tried to understand them as the others do, who don't leave you whole but are satisfied to take only this portion or that. It was because I didn't yet understand fame, that public deconstruction of a building not yet finished, onto whose construction site the mob intrudes, disrupting its progress.

Young person, anywhere, in whom something thrilling wells, be thankful no one knows you. And if they contradict you, those you disregard; and if they give you up completely, your acquaintances; and if they want to destroy you because of the thoughts you hold dear---what danger is there in this, which concentrates you in yourself, compared to the cunning enmity of fame, later, which makes you innocuous by scattering you all around?

Don't ask anyone to speak about you, not even disparagingly. And if the time should come that you notice your name is circulating among the people, don't take it any more seriously than anything else you might find in their mouths. Think: it has become tainted, and dismiss it. Then take another, any other, by which God can call you in the night. And hide it from everyone.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, "A draft letter".


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