Sunday, April 24, 2011

Video: Corelli/Godowsky--Pastorale (Angelus)

I've written previously about Repertoire Season, the time of year shortly after a ConcArt recital when I start hunting down pieces for the next recital. During Repertoire Season after the ConcArt-II recital in November, 2009, I was considering trying to learn something by Leopold Godowsky, a twentieth-century Polish composer. I wasn't really confident I'd find anything, because my main criteria for pieces are that they are beautiful/entertaining, shortish, and playable. Godowsky has a bit of a reputation for writing very difficult piano music (and difficult piano arrangements of other composers' compositions). But then I stumbled across a video by pianist Magdalena Baczewska of Godowsky's arrangement of Arcangelo Corelli's Pastorale. I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever heard. It's fairly short, and it didn't sound too difficult at all. (It turned out to be quite a bit trickier than Baczewska's wonderful performance suggests).

Pastorale is the sixth (and final) movement of Corelli's Christmas Concerto, one of his twelve concerti grossi. A concerto grosso is a Baroque form of orchestral music. There are two groups of performers (the concertino and the ripieno) that engage in a kind of musical dialog. I think Godowsky's wide but relatively sparse piano arrangement really captures the sound of the concerto grosso.

For the video, I had the idea to emphasize the dialog by switching to the bass camera angle exclusively for the recurring "response" theme in the piece. I think the idea was better in conception than execution, though. For the first statement of the response, I didn't have a good bass angle take. And since the response theme is short, the frequent camera switches kind of interrupt the video flow.

The second problem with the video is due to the position of one of my light stands. It was too close to the camera for the wide angle shots. This lights up dust floating by the lens. More seriously, it gave me a lens flare that I didn't notice until I'd finished recording. (You can see it as a light circle where the right side of the piano meets the treble leg). I managed to reduce the effect by setting levels in editing, but it's still pretty obvious.

I'm nitpicking, though. I love this piece so much that I can't not love the video!