Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Piano 101: 5. Danza de la Moza Donosa

The second of Ginastera's Argentinian Dances is the Dance of the Graceful Maiden. And I LOVE this piece... the close chromaticism in the melody... the wide open intervals in the harmony.

There isn't a lot of rhythmic action, but a classic accent figure from Spanish music appears a couple of times. The 6/8 bars are mostly accented 1-2-3-1-2-3 but Ginastera occasionally throws in a bar accented 1-2-1-2-1-2. The most obvious examples are at 1:29 and 2:01. You can hear the effect by reciting this little poem:

Muffin with Marmelade
Muffin with Marmelade
Muffin with Marmelade
Muffin Muffin Muffin

This figure also appears all over the place in Albéniz' El Puerto and in the other two Argentinian Dances.

Track 5: Danza de la Moza Donosa (Alberto Ginastera)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Piano 101: 4. Danza del Viejo Boyero

Or Dance of the Old Cowherd, although I can't imagine anybody dancing to this piece, much less an old cowherd.

Viejo Boyero is the first of three pieces that make up Alberto Ginastera's Danzas Argentinas. These three were among the last pieces I studied with Douglas Voice.

Listen for the six long notes at the end: they're the notes of the six open strings of a guitar.

Track 4: Danza del Viejo Boyero (Alberto Ginastera)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Piano 101: 3. Villanesca

Villanesca was probably my first exposure to the Spanish piano repertoire. My score has pencil markings from both Edith Orton and Jean-Paul Sevilla, suggesting that I worked on this piece toward the very end of my time with Mrs. Orton. That's when she was sending me occasionally to study with Jean-Paul and Douglas. Probably around 1984.

There's something so compelling about the mood of this piece to me. I always come back to it, and it always affects me. I think it's probably a combination of the stately, foreign sounds and my history with the piece.

I never studied much of the story of Enrique Granados. I know he was a Catalonian composer from around the turn of the century (19th to 20th). He's best known for his Goyescas suite, not the Spanish Dances suite from which Villanesca comes. I might get around to recording one of the Goyescas pieces eventually. We'll see.

Track 3: Villanesca (Enrique Granados)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Piano 101: 2. Étude Opus 10 Nr. 3

If I had to guess, I'd say the piece I performed the most over the years was this Chopin Étude. Its nickname is "Tristesse", but I don't really find it sad. Maybe it's a little wistful.

The Chopin Études were intended to present technical exercises to students in the natural setting of enjoyable music. Chopin accomplished this blend so successfully that the Études have become part of the solo piano concert repertoire. The exercise in this piece is right-hand self-accompaniment. The right hand is playing two parts simultaneously: the obvious melody and a chordal accompaniment. The goal is to make the melody sing, standing out from the accompaniment, even though they're being played with one hand.

Track 2: Étude Opus 10 Nr. 3 (Frédéric Chopin)