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MV3 -- Gordon Rumson and Keith Bramich visit the world of music online

Music & Vision's monthly column -


When I select sites for this feature I try to fill certain categories: a new artist, a renowned master, ancient music, a new composer and so on. Sometimes I wind up at the strangest places seeking such things. Here are some of the places I found myself in this month...

Albert Frantz

Super virtuosos seem to be everywhere, but here's one with an interesting story: Albert Frantz only began playing the piano in his late teens. At MP3 are samples of his virtuosi prestidigitation proving that being a child prodigy is not required for pianistic attainment. (Besides, Nadia Boulanger said the same thing). Further, he is an excellent musician able to draw music out of Godowsky's 'lab experiments' on the Chopin Etudes. I admit that I have a fondness for this pianist since he plays one of the pieces I publish (by Sorabji) but he plays it so well that I know readers will forgive me. This pianist will go far.

Jörg Demus

A pianist, composer and relentless recording artist Jörg Demus has a huge catalogue of music to show for an active life. His recording of the Bach Well Tempered Clavier has been receiving high praise recently and is available only at

Utter Disdain

Classical music is uptight. Classical music is elitist. Or Classical music is for everyone. Well, when you visit this site take your sense of humor with you. Good performances (sorry, Al Frantz shows up again with the Sorabji) and some quickwitted comments.

John Grant

Surprisingly, this is the electronic music site for the month: Bach's Well Tempered Clavier played on piano. Actually the music is sequenced and then output through 'Gigasampler', a sampling of a Steinway B. What is interesting is that the human element is present. This is not your bland MIDI file playback. John replied to my query by saying: 'The principle hurdles in producing something reasonably good are 1) musical and 2) technical. By "musical" I mean, simply, all the issues of interpretation which any pianist faces in attempting to play Bach. That is the hard part. By "technical" I refer not to scales and arpeggios but to the thorny work of attempting to do the following: 1) create a MIDI file that expresses the music; 2) manipulate the sample (in this case the "Steinway B" sample), so that the sound is appropriate for the music, and can be made to "yield" the music with the right kind of MIDI file.'

The results here can be very remarkable. In the B flat prelude, the sequencer evidently plays very (!) quickly, but in the second half of the prelude the gestures are very subtle and touching. This is real artistry.

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Copyright © 5 March 2001 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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