Sunday, December 7, 2014

Prophet bird

Music that wasn't written for church, but it really worked.

Schumann's "Prophet Bird," from Waldszenen, is clearly birdsong. But it isn't just pretty and cheerful birdsong. It has an edge to it. The swooping birdsong calls emphasize a dissonant note at the start of each, then the dissonance resolves in a sudden upward rush of notes almost too quick to catch. Then there is a silence: from dissonance to brief resolution to nothingness. It's haunting music. Unsettling.

The end is a non-ending, just a restatement of the first couple of measures. Maybe the bird abruptly flies away. Maybe the end is in the future.

It's half hope, and half warning. As all the real prophecies are. Good Advent music.

Here is Myra Hess, playing with great genius.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Preludes, Problems & Prayers keeps people warm

There is now a stack of CDs at Memorial Baptist Church on Fairfield Ave. in Hartford. If you purchase one from the church, you will support the new furnace fund :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Preludes, Problems & Prayers is released!
I'm happy to announce the release of Preludes, Problems & Prayers!

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign last April, this is a collection of music by established and emerging composers. I corresponded with the five living composers and received their feedback on practice recordings, then recorded the CD at Northfire Recording Studio in Amherst. I've loved living with this music for the last several months. I have not loved trying to be my own graphic designer, but that's another story. Now I can share this music with you!

The pieces are
Reel - Homage to Henry Cowell by Lou Harrison
Secret & Glass Gardens by Jennifer Higdon
selections from Twenty-four Preludes by Steven O'Brien
Op. 21 no. 2 by Pavel Konyukhov
selections from Problems for Piano by Jake Bellissimo
Semplice and Sky of the Eternal by Gwyneth Walker

Over on the "Store" sidebar to your right you can hear short clips of the tracks. Or go to CDBaby here:
We're working on distribution to Amazon, iTunes and other places too.

Friday, February 14, 2014

In pursuit of rapid calm

Many of the pieces I'm working on need to go faster. It's a little tedious having a number of pieces in that stage at once.

But it puts me in mind of a wonderful phenomenon when playing something that's both fast and well prepared. For a long time during practice, increasing tempo is just a struggle, a fight against the metronome. I alternate fast and slow repetitions because I find it more efficient than faster and faster, and to mitigate the struggle a bit, but only a bit... Then once in a while a couple of repetitions come out not only fast but surreally easy.

When that happens, everything just feels calm and relaxed, like I'm not pushing the music anymore but instead it's cooking along under its own power. I can then enjoy the ride and pay attention to the bigger picture. I might be making rapid movements but it doesn't really feel fast. It feels calm. It's magic. Then of course the next repetition goes crashingly wrong.

So it's time for a lot more practice...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Time for new repertoire!

The CD is mostly recorded (only one retake session left, we hope...), the hour-long solo concert is finished, so now what? Oh yes -- I can take on some new repertoire now!

It's fun to play new pieces with no deadline for a change. I'm working on some Chopin that I haven't really explored before: the utterly gorgeous Impromptu in F# major. The notes are not difficult but there are many subtleties that will take me a long time to absorb and bring out fully, I think. I am also happily diving into a piece I have wanted to learn for ages: Tombeau de Couperin by Ravel. It looks back at the French Baroque, sort of, while mainly looking back at the devastation of World War I and the deaths of friends, through the lens of darkly beautiful music.

Also on the list are a Bach French Suite, the last three of the Schumann Fantasiestucke Op. 12, and various etudes.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday: concert in Hartford, fundraiser for Zezzo House

On Sunday Oct 6 I'll be performing an hour of music at Memorial Baptist Church in Hartford. This is a fundraiser for Zezzo House, a nonprofit residence for single parents living with HIV/AIDS.

Concert is at 5pm and the church is at 142 Fairfield Ave. near Trinity College.

I am excited about this gorgeous music, and delighted to support a good cause!


Haydn: Sonata in D major Hob. XVI:33

Debussy: from Preludes for Piano book 1
"Des pas sur la neige"
"Sons et parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Charles Baudelaire)"
"Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest"

Harrison: Reel: Homage to Henry Cowell

Higdon: Secret & Glass Gardens

Bellissimo: Problems for Piano no. 4 ("money")

Schumann: Fantasiestucke Op. 12 nos. 1-5
Des Abends
In der Nacht