Classical Music Buzz > BOOM'S DUNGEON
BOOM'S DUNGEON
Boom
226 Entries


German-trained South Korean pianist William Youn won the 3rd prize at the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition.  All to the better, given the usually perverse rankings in such competitions.  After all, the list of pianists who failed to win First Prize in Cleveland over the years includes Jean-Yves Thibadeaut (2nd, 1979), Angela Hewitt (3rd, 1979), Nicholas Angelich (2nd, 1989), and  Gilles Vonsattel (4th, 2001) - all familiar names, and all still very much before the public.  By contrast, the only First Prize winner likely to be well-known to pianophiles is Sergei Babayan (1989), and his reputation is primarily that of a much sought-after teacher rather than a concert performer.  As for many others - well, if you never heard a concert or a recording by, say, Edward Newman, you may find comfort in the fact that Newman won the 1st prize in Cleveland in the same year when Thibaudet and Hewitt were judged by the jury to be lesser artists at the keyboard.

Youn's career seems to have developed nicely since his 2009 Cleveland gig, with several CDs recorded for the Oehms and Ars labels and a busy concertizing schedule in Europe.  I would expect at least this much on the basis of his superbly played (and excellently engineered) live and unedited recordings from Cleveland.  In some of these performances Youn' pianism reminded me of Till Fellner, although Youn's playing is less cerebral and a bit more emphatic than Fellner's.  In a wide ranging repertoire of Scarlatti, Haydn, Faure, Liszt, Brahms, and Schumann, Youn's immaculate finger technique and coolly elegant phrasing are completely immune not only to the stress of a public performance, but a public performance before a competition jury. 


6 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story



In describing Mahler's 9th Symphony - not a particular performance of it, but the composition itself - Anthony Tommasini informs us that this work "begins and ends with slow movements of nearly 30 minutes each."*
      Without imposing extravagant interpretations on the meaning of familiar English words, I take it for granted that any event lasting 25 minutes or less cannot be meaningfully  described as being "nearly 30 minutes".  (It is an arithmetical fact that 25 is as near to 20 as it is to 30.)  Which brings me to the shocking discovery - thanks to Dr. Tommasini - that some of our cherished recorded live performances of Mahler's 9th are actually examples of musical fraud because their timings (in the last movement) make it impossible for them to qualify as performances of Mahler's music: 

Bruno Walter & Vienna Philharmonic (1938): 18 min 12 sec
George Szell & Cleveland Orchestra (1969): 21 min 30 sec
Otto Klemperer & Vienna Philharmonic (1968): 24 min 11 sec

Of course, some may object to the charges of musical fraud against these three conductors by pointing out that two of them (Walter, Klemperer) were Mahler's friends and disciples, while the third (Szell) was already a young performing conductor and pianist in Vienna when Mahler was still alive.   Alas, this feeble attempt to protect the reputation of the above maestros is laughably unconvincing.  After all, when it comes to how long a movement of a Mahler symphony must last, who would you believe: some baton-waving Mahler's pals who probably didn't even have college degrees, or chief music critic for the New York Times who has a doctorate in music?

___________________
* Tommasini, A., "Mahler's Haunting Ruminations at the Abyss", New York Times, June 6, 2008, italics mine.

8 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story



Lorin Maazel's music making was not to all tastes, but I've always admired the unique sound he obtained from just about any orchestra he conducted: lucid, detailed, exquisitely balanced across all orchestral sections, and always coolly elegant.  No better way to honor the memory of this great musician than to offer a few of his live broadcasts recorded during his tenure with the New York Philharmonic.

DEBUSSY: Iberia; Jeux
LUTOSLAWSKI: Chain II (with Jennifer Koh, violin)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegel


8 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story


When two or more mathematicians, working collaboratively or independently, make essential contributions to solving a particular mathematical problem, the result is traditionally given a hyphenated name, such as the Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser theorem in dynamical systems theory, or the Fokker-Planck equation in statistical mechanics. 
     I wonder what would have happened to this naming tradition if the German-American mathematician J├╝rgen Moser and the Dutch mathematical physicist Adriaan Fokker had proved the same important theorem.  Just put yourself in the shoes of a mathematics professor who has to announce to his class:
Today we will be discussing  the Moser-Fokker theorem.


8 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story


In a recent article from The Telegraph, Victoria Scott, a British woman living in Qatar, describes various worthwhile things one can do to feel more at home in that tiny country.  One of such things (italics mine) is to

... watch the Qatar Philharmonic play.
I expect that after Ms Scott gets to live in a few more places around the world, she will suggest for us to

smell the Bolshoi Ballet while in Moscow, listen to Rothko paintings while in Houston, andtaste the pyramids while in Egypt.
In the mean time, congratulations to The Telegraph (founded in 1855) on filling their editorial positions with hopeless cultural retards...


9 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story


For a woman who plays not a note of contemporary music in her public recitals, what does this publicity photo supposedly promise to those who pay to hear Khatia Buniatishvili play the numbingly familiar works of Liszt, Chopin, and Schumann?  A sensuous massage backstage during the intermission?  A slow striptease to accompany the dying away of final notes in Schumann's Fantasy Op.17?   Or is it simply a desperate attempt to divert everyone's attention from the fact that Khatia has never been able to give a clean execution of a single technically demanding piece in her repertoire (at least not in the dozens of live recordings I've heard before giving up on this pianist)?


10 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story


Horse gives birth to twin girls

April 12 - Horse owners in Oklahoma celebrate the birth of extremely rare twins, but worry about the health risks. 

*   *   *   *   *

Girls?  When did Reuters begin to employ as writers and editors such hopeless imbeciles?  Not only do they seem ignorant of a perfectly good English word - filly - for a young female horse under the age of four, but they also see nothing wrong with a headline that belongs in a supermarket tabloid like the National Enquirer.

Lest you think I made this up, here is the URL of that Reuters webpage.

11 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story


Composed in 2004 as a gift for Pierre Boulez on his 80th birthday, Carter's 10-minute long sparkling and playful ensemble piece Reflexions strikes me as his most overt hommage to Haydn's musical humor.  It is impossible to hear the comic contribution from contrabass clarinet (at the limit of the instrument's low register) without recalling the comic bassoon fart in the Andante of Haydn's Symphony No.93.

Recently I was surprised to discover that the best engineered live recording of this piece in my collection has never been offered on this blog.  This performance - with Boulez conducting Ensemble Intercontemporain - took place at the Concertgebouw on February 26, 2005 (only 10 days after the world premiere in Paris).  The sound quality of this directly captured Dutch Radio 256 kbs webcast - especially with respect to dynamic range - is superior to the earlier two performances (Paris, Munich) already available in this blog's collection of Carter's music.


11 months ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story





1 year ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

Furtwangler's reputation will never live down this photo op with his patron Adolf Hitler:


Karajan's reputation will be forever tarnished by his Nazi Party ID card:



I hope the eager musical serfs of today's tyrants will pay a similar price:
 

1 year ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
21 - 30  | 123456789 next
InstantEncore