Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hungarian Csárdás in Classical Music

Do you like folk music? I love it. Especially the cultural heritage of the Balkan Peninsula. Here the elements of dance and music often intertwined which resulted in a beautiful unity of folk art. The most popular example is the transition of Hungarian dance called Czárdás that later spread into classical music.
Czárdás dance 
Czárdás the traditional dance that was born in Hungary in the 18th century. Its name derives from the Hungarian word “csárda” meaning ‘tavern’. The dance caught on in the nearby countries of the peninsula and is still met in Serbia, Croatia, Romania and other countries of the region. The main feature of the dance was its characteristic tempo – slow beginning and very fast ending. Maybe that was what attracted classical composers. Among the remarkable authors who used czárdás motives and themes in their works are Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and, of course, Vittorio Monti. His czárdás composition for violin and piano is probably the most recognizable now.

Here is a wonderful video of my favorite Victor Borge and his stunning improvisation of Monti’s Czárdás in a duet with Anton Kontra as encore at the concert dedicated to Borge’s 80th anniversary. The funny thing is that he had never played it before. Well, the legendary Victor Borge, what can I say!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Lovely "Transformation of Pachelbel's Canon" for Marimba

I’m not sure about you but when I hear “canon” my first thought is to prolong it to Canon in D or to Pachabel’s Canon. But in both cases it would only refer to that very famous music piece by outstanding German composer Johann Pachelbel.

So many years passed, first before the composition got popular after its creation in 1919 (a few decades), and then after it was re-discovered in the 20th century. Despite that, it eventually became composer’s most well-known creation and many artists played, covered, arranged it then and now. Originally, “Canon and Gigue in D” was scored for three violins and a basso continuo. But who cares what the instrument is if the desire to play it is too high?

So I heard a number of bright performances of the piece, and every time there is something to be pleased with. Maybe it’s all about the magic magnetism of the piece itself? Anyway, here’s a curious transformation of the canon on Marimba! Why not :) It’s an interesting instrument by itself and even the most recognizable compositions sound different on it. Yea, maybe the guy’s (Nanae Mimura) performance is not all that smooth but he’s doing a great job!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rare Waltz by Franz Schubert

I love history’s little secret stories and especially when it comes to the stories behind some of the renowned composers’ works.

The other day I discovered this recording of a very cute and endlessly charming waltz composed by Franz Schubert. It is called “Kupelwieser Waltz”. They say it was written for and performed at the wedding of Schubert’s friend Leopold Kupelwieser in 1826.


The interesting thing is that the score of the waltz, unlike most of works by Schubert, was never written down by composer himself. Composed rather spontaneously as a dedication to an important event in his friend’s life, the waltz was only passed on year after year but never put down on a sheet. Over a century had to pass before it happened in 1943, when Richard Strauss, as a family’s close friend, was asked to transcribe this beautiful work. Of course, as a composer himself, Strauss added something of his own to the music, which cannot be unnoticed by classical music connoisseurs. However, the hand of Schubert can be clearly traced throughout the entire work.
I think this serene and peaceful composition is sure to take a place of my list of favs now. Hope you like it too!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

8-Bit Classical Music

As a fan of ‘quality’ music, I rather consider myself a conservative type when it comes to great music masterpieces. What I mean is that if I am to listen to a work by Mozart, Bach, Schubert and other outstanding music minds, I prefer to pick a nice recording by orchestras like New York Philharmonic and such, or, ideally, go to a live performance of my favorite compositions (whenever I get a chance to!).

However, recently I’ve become more open to other creative interpretations of my favourite music pieces and I’m surprised to find myself enjoying some of them to a certain extent. I know it’s not a very new thing (sorry, I wasn’t quite following) but it looks like 8-bit music has become quite popular. I ran into it by chance and I guess I’m glad I did.

If someone gave me a contemporary piece in 8 bit to listen to, I wouldn’t be surprised, but hey – what I find first is nothing else but Antonín Dvořák's 9th Symphony! Wut? I was all skeptical at the beginning but the funny thing is that for some reason I didn’t click ‘stop’ or close the window.  I kept listening. Be it out of curiosity or enjoyment, hard to say. But I can say now that that 8-bit mode did not spoil it for me, on the contrary, I found it interesting that way. As I found out later, a lot of classical compositions exist in 8-bit and they do cause people interest. I still am an ardent lover of all the traditional in classical music but now I can add that there also are music experiments worth holding!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Josh Groban ft Herbie Hancock: Machine

Nothing can compare to a live concert where the music with all its power and meaningfulness covers you all over and lets experience just what is meant to by this or that music piece. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to attend your preferred concert or a band’s gig, which leaves you listening to the music you like in earphones in YouTube or your ready-made playlist.

If no other opportunity is left I still am picky and prefer listening to professional recordings of ‘live’ performances rather than studio recordings. Here’s one lovely performance I came across and I love the energy transmitted through it. I’ve no idea how come I haven’t been listening to Josh Groban before but now I can clearly see that I love his music style. Eclectic things like cross-genre music have always  been attracting me and that’s definitely one of the reasons I like what Joshua is doing. He mostly sings in operatic pop and I love the combination a lot. This particular song – “Machine” – is featuring the legendary Herbie Hancock and was performed live in New York.