What I’m Listening to These Days

I’ve been listening to a variety of music again these days. Here are a few I thought you might be interested in and some history about them.

Fritz Kreisler – Though he passed away more than 50 years ago and his prime recordings were done before 1940 I have to say that I am, none the less, a true believer. Kreisler was one of the last composer/virtuosos.
His warm tone and even vibrato express great character. His compositions also have this peculiar charm.

Sergei Prokofiev Piano Concertos-I love all five of them and especially the recording by pianist Michel Beroff with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Kurt Masur.
Melodically, rhythmically and harmonically Prokofiev’s music slays me and the piano concertos are especially effective. Prokofiev too was a composer/virtuoso.

Samson Francois (the complete piano works of Maurice Ravel)-Francois died at the early age of 46 in October, 1970. He lived an intense life and his virtuosity as a pianist extended to a keen interest in jazz. In 2013 box sets of his Ravel and Debussy recordings were released and they are a real treasure.

Anyone who knows me is familiar with my interest in Ravel. Since the age of 18 I have been collecting recordings and books on Ravel. I have about 20 different biographies and studies in English on this very French composer. I have visited his home in Montfort L’Amaury several times (it is now a museum). I have played his piano and I helped do some research for the museum by tracking down reviews and accounts of his concert in Minneapolis on his only U.S. tour in 1927. I did this research at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.
December 28 marked the 79th anniversary of his death.

So what about you? What are you into as we head into 2017?

My Hobby

My hobby is and has been for some time to study the life and works of various concert pianists. Arthur Rubinstein is a favorite and his autobiography is wonderful. I also am interested in two pianists of the 20th century who passed away before their time. That is Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950) and William Kapell (1922-1953).

As of late I have been looking into the music and life of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995).
Michelangeli was a taciturn sort who disliked giving concerts. He was also a perfectionist who was rarely known to play a wrong note. Very interesting fellow. There are several Michelangeli performances to be seen on You Tube.

There are of course many more like Ignaz Friedman, Leopold Godowsky, Josef Hofmann, Rachmaninoff, Artur Schnabel, Samson Francois and others.

It always helps if I can read about the lives of these interpreters as well as listen to their archival recordings. In this way two books have been of great help. Those books are “Speaking of Pianists” by Abram Chasins and “The Great Pianists” by Harold C. Schoenberg.

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