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Tag: Martha Argerich

“First Piano Concerto” – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


      “Concerto (1975) 

               Jack Bush


if there’s a piece that defines Classical music
for most people, encapsulates it, even for 
those who aren’t especially interested in 
Classical music, that piece would be, I think,
Tchaikovsky‘s First Piano Concerto

strictly speaking Tchaikovsky isn’t a Classical
composer, but a Romantic one, the Classical 
period in music having been transformed 
some years earlier into the Romantic period
by none other than Beethoven1770 – 1827, 
perhaps the most transformative composer 
of all time – Tchaikovsky‘s First Piano Concerto
was written in the winter of 1874 – 1875, pretty
well at the end of the Romantic Period, which 
then ceded to the Impressionists, just to get 
our periods right

what the Romantic Period added to the 
Classical Era was emotion, sentiment – note 
the use of tenuto, for instance, beats being 
drawn out, languidly, longingly, for pathos – 
what it maintained was the structure, the 
trinity of Classical conditions, rhythm, tonality, 
and repetition, which is why even the most 
uninformed listener will usually be able to 
sing along throughout the entire performance
the blueprint is in our collective blood, in the 
DNA of our culture

to remain present a piece must remain 
relevant to the promoter, an interpreter must
have reason to play it, substance surely plays 
a big part, but technical considerations play 
perhaps an even greater role towards a great
work’s longevityChopsticks“, for instance, 
is good but it won’t fill a concert hall  

unless, of course, it’s with Liberace

the “First Piano Concerto” of Tchaikovsky is 
the Everest of compositions, emotionally
complex and technically forbidding, nearly 
impossible, it would seem, were it not for 
those few who’ve mastered its treacherous 
challenges, conquered its nearly indomitable  

Van Cliburn put it on the map for my 
generation, with a ticker tape parade in 
New York to confirm it

Martha Argerich later on kept the ball rolling

and now Behzod Abduraimov, a mere youth, 
born in 1990 in UzbekistanTashkent, delivers 
by far the best performance I’ve seen since,
giving it new life for the new millenium
behold, be moved, be dazzled, be bewitched  

Behzod Abduraimov, watch


art and God

a friend asks 
       “Hi Richard,
        Just in case you don’t think I’m listening.
        Here’s a [YOUTUBE rendering] that I think illustrates what you so aptly  explained
        in [your reply to a friend] regarding the term ‘adagio’.
        On listening to the adagio
        pieces that you referred us to, they seem to suggest a leaving or going to “God”. At least ,
        that’s the sensation they provoke in me.
        What would you say to this?
all art, I believe, is a conversation with God, in undertaking to
create a painting, a piece of music, a work of literature, a poem,
all entirely abstract inventions, verily defined by their lack of
any utilitarian function, but imbued with merely intellect and
heart, which is to say, soul, the artist, anyone, has only two
impulses ever as instinctual guides, beauty and truth, beauty
and truth, concepts which when given essence and flight I
associate with a living God, any at least relevant God 
and I believe truth and beauty, therefore art, are the closest
we’ll ever come to knowing IT
so yes, “the adagio pieces that [I] referred [my friend] to, [do
indeed] suggest a leaving or going to “God”.” 
what do you think
psst: thanks E. 

Sergei Prokofiev’s piano concerto no 3, opus 26‏

Yuja Wang in many ways isn’t Martha Argerich, but in 
many ways she’s just as extraordinary
here she is with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
under Daniele Gatti in Amsterdam, October 3, 1910

disregard the written advice that you are watching
Strauss’ “Don Juan” at the beginning of the second
movement, this is Prokofiev’s piano concerto no 3, 
opus 26, throughout  
Sergei Prokofiev is the mad boy of music, a Harlequin,
a Pinocchio, the fool in Shakespeare, the court jester,
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”‘s Puck, unpredictable,
effevescent, mercurial, irrepressible
in art I would compare him to maybe Miró, fanciful
though much more electric, with a touch of, say, the
more impish, mischievous Hieronymus Bosch     
try not to be jolted, try not to be projected from your
seat, this is 1921, this is the Twentieth Century,
Prokofiev turns the heat on it right up  

some Martha Argerich‏

after Glenn Gould there was Martha Argerich, a human dynamo, not quite of this earth, her speeds are technically next to impossible, her textures nevertheless always transcendental, she is a miracle, though explosive, volcanic 

watch her arpeggiastic pyrothechnics, if you can keep up

an arpeggio is a run of notes up or down a scale, be it tonic or atonic, tuneful or dissonant, with accidentals either way, or not 

an accidental is a decorative hiccough in the music    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         arpeggios can be treachorous

Marha Argerich puts herself in the driver’s seat and categorically delivers 

here she does the First Tchaikowsky Piano Concerto, of it, note, one of her less celebrated performances

wow, still wow

one  would advise Emil Gilels, our earlier illustrious Tchaikowsky celebrant, to watch his back, this woman is on fire

I’m on fire