Richibi’s Weblog

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Month: July, 2014

Chopin piano concerto no 1, opus 11‏

this is for Brain, who, according
to its response to my last blog,
is about to explore Chopin, a
transformational experience,
which I’d like to encourage
and heartily abet


watch, be transported

Evgeny Kissin at the piano, Zubin
Mehta conducts, Chopin’s First
Piano Concerto
, an indisputable
masterpiece, just click

before this performance I will remain,
uncharacteristically, mum, let Chopin
speak for himself, from the early
Nineteenth Century, letting us know
what they were up to then

it appears to have been utterly


psst: thanks Brain

Glenn Gould‏

Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould


if you think I can talk, listen to Glenn
tell in spades what I’ve only
ever been able to tell in clubs, or,
as we say in French, trèfles, clover,
a piece of music can say more than
just hello, great ones are oracular,
even transcendent

if ever they made a movie of my life
I want Glenn Gould to play me, even
the wonderful Colm Feore, I think,
couldn’t as effectively manage it


psst: here’s more, incandescent, Bach,
Glenn Gould playing his signature
, just click

“The Unwritten” – W.S. Merwin

Mickail Vrubel - "Pencils' (1905)

Pencils (1905)

Mickail Vrubel


below is a poem wherein the poet,
W.S. Merwin, confronts his pencil,
any pencil, which each contains
all the words which will never be
written, it is a great spur to the
creative imagination, an evocation
of the infinities of possibilities
available to any artist, any
person, indeed, who dreams

but in the 21st Century, will
anyone soon wonder what’s
a pencil, when was the last
time, ask yourself, you even
used one



The Unwritten

Inside this pencil
crouch words that have never been written
never been spoken
never been taught

they’re hiding

they’re awake in there
dark in the dark
hearing us
but they won’t come out
not for love not for time not for fire

even when the dark has worn away
they’ll still be there
hiding in the air
multitudes in days to come may walk through them
breathe them
be none the wiser

what script can it be
that they won’t unroll
in what language
would I recognize it
would I be able to follow it
to make out the real names
of everything

maybe there aren’t
it could be that there’s only one word
and it’s all we need
it’s here in this pencil

every pencil in the world
is like this

W.S. Merwin

my reply to BookInhabiter, a.k.a. Brain

a reader writes

“Hello Richard,
Recently I’ve been watching up on many dance competitions. I knew of the existence of piano competitions but never thought that they would be filmed. I must listen to the top contenders. How did you hear about this competition?”

here is my, admittedly extended, answer, with pertinent links



I haven’t missed So You Think You
Can Dance
Brain, for 11 years, so
we’ve probably been watching the
same “many dance competitions”

“piano competitions” aren’t much
different, just another art, judged
here by professionals throughout,
rather than entire publics

the competitions are fierce, to a
person the competitors are world

the music is often sublime, utterly
transcendent, though more rigorously
intellectual than popcorn – pace
Mozart – this puts some people off

much as you probably find covers of
songs you like, I go out looking for
sonatas, string quartets, concerti I
already know of and admire, I check
out the big names, Chopin, Beethoven,
Rachmaninov, see what might be up

the Internet abounds with nearly
anything you might want to find, the
only obstacle is the quality

the Van Cliburn competition, from
Houston, was dreadful, enough to
put me off it, but looking for musical
counterparts to pieces of interest, I
found the Rubinstein one in Tel
offering sterling performances

I quickly flew across the globe,
virtually, of course, speaking

the experience has been well worth
it, I heard miracles of music, haven’t
had so much fun since reading Proust,
in French of course, but you must
understand I’m an inveterate egghead,
totally chronic

this week I started Edward Gibbon’s
The Decline and Fall of the Roman
, text and, to my delight,
audiotape, its reader is extraordinary

check out the Chopin Competition
for, up to this point anyway in my
investigation, only Chopin, but he’ll
do for a significant while, his music
is consistently breathtaking

I’ll also check out the Russian
Tchaikovsky Competition, which Van
Cliburn made famous for us in the late
, by winning it, despite the rancours
of the Cold War, with a still paramount
rendition of Tchaikovsky’s own
monumental First Concerto

wow, I’ve been hooked ever since

thanks for stopping by my blog, Brain,
you’ll find, incidentally, a lot of excellent
performances highlighted there, several
of the best, in fact, from the most recent
Rubinstein Competition
, none of which,
to my utter consternation, managed to

other recommendations follow, check
it out

I think your blog is wonderful, keep
it up


Andrejs Osokins‏

the Rachmaninov Three is also a monument
of our culture, mighty and magnificent

Andrejs Osokins makes it resplendent,

I’d earlier berated him for being unkempt,
for his, after all, public, and
surely not gratis, performance, but here
he utterly redeems himself, he is
possessed, an instrument of the music

Andrejs Osokins could win, all bets are
therefore off

watch, join me, join in


Seong-jin Cho‏


the Parthenon


in the last phase of the Arthur Rubinstein
Piano Master Competition
, wherein
contestants play with the Israel
Philharmonic Orchestra
, of course
resounding works abound, among those
Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto holds
a revered place, in our culture it stands
right up there with the Parthenon, the
Roman Coliseum, the Cathedral at
Chartres, as an icon, an emblem, of
our civilization

here Seong-jin Cho gives it an impeccable,
an irreproachable, rendering, lights it up,
sets it on very fire

don’t not watch


Maria Mazo‏

if Mozart had written nothing other
than his piano concerto no 21 in C
, he would have still been
famous, its adagio is resplendent,
written even in our DNA, time stops,
one enters an epiphany

Maria Mazo could win the Rubinstein
for her interpretation of
this iconic piece


watch, just click


Steven Lin

we’ve reached the finals at the Arthur
Rubinstein International Piano Master
, the 6 remaining of the 16
contestants, after a second piano solo
round, were, none of them, ones I
would’ve selected, to my profound

a friend expressed such disgust after
Germany beat her favoured Brazil in
a recent soccer match

will you keep on watching, I asked,
she’d already been watching

I opted to also do the same

it‘s like soccer, I suggested, but for
nerds, for her to get my picture

with his second performance, of
Beethoven’s exhilarating 1st Piano
, after a rousing Brahms
Piano and Strings Quartet, his opus
, during the first of the Finals
round, Steven Lin knocks the ball,
I think, right out of the ballpark

and into the very ages, watch, I
predict, this guy outright fly


reflections on love


there is no happy way out of love,
your love leaves you, or you leave
your love, you die first, or your
love does

there are no other exits

there is no upside, but itself
the bliss of love, its existential,
however evanescent, rapture

its, also, transformational


Lizzie Velasquez redefines beauty

Lizzie Velasquez is not only beautiful,
she’s also a saint, there are many, many
things we can all learn here

here is her recommended TED talk,
with even more things to learn