Music & Vision's monthly column -
GORDON RUMSON writes:
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...
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.
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 MP3.com.
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.
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.
Copyright © 5 March 2001 Gordon Rumson,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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