by Sean MacLean
posted Jan 30 2014 10:52AM
For me, if it's to be truly Romantic, it must be in D-flat Major, (the richest, most velvet-draped key), Russian, unashamed to gush, but saved from cloying sentimentality by intellectual rigor and balance.
Now, where would I find that? In Rachmaninoff's 18th variation to his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, where the intellectual trick (he flips the Paganini tune upside down and submits it to all kind of rhythmic math wizardry) is a means to a Romantic end. That Italian tune becomes so much more romantic in its Russified form that everybody from movie makers to fountain display technicians have co-opted it for its grandeur:
But if that's too cheesy for you, just follow the score:
by Jill Kimball
posted Jan 28 2014 4:43PM
It's been a joy to celebrate the very best Asian composers and performers this month, not least because one of my all-time favorite pianists is the extraordinary Joel Fan
He visited our studios last year for an enchanting live performance, and in that concert it was obvious he was a true musical Renaissance man. He not only tackles the traditional three Bs with aplomb but also lends a special personal touch to modern music from living composers such as Dia Succari of Syria and Ernesto Nazareth of Brazil.
He also collaborated with cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, a group that recorded classical music inspired by the traditional sounds of the Asian contintent. It gave him a whole new outlook on playing solo piano.
"It's given me, as a pianist, a willingness to explore music from different cultures," he recently told the San Jose Mercury News
. "No creation or innovation exists in a vacuum. We're all dealing with inspirations from other people and thinkers, whether it's in philosophy or science or music. And one of the big themes right now is the way information is globally shared and the way collaboration can happen instantaneously. We're all connected around the world, wherever we are."
Mr. Fan got a great start to his career when, at age 11, he played solo with the New York Philharmonic. And he's only gotten better since.