Sunday, March 28, 2010

Video: Ginastera--Danza del viejo boyero (HD)

Welcome to the second in the Ripoff Series of videos (videos of pieces that I've posted videos of before). My first stab at filming this piece was exactly 18 months ago. And not only was it crappy SD, it was crappy mono audio. Mono audio!

I think the audio is pretty good on this one. I'm still learning and improving. And I'm still getting used to my new camera, and experimenting a little more in video post-production. Video experts will no doubt cringe at my heavy hand on the levels.

When I blogged about the original video in September, 2008, I promised (?) that I would do videos of the second and third Argentine dances, too. I did manage to post a pretty terrible performance of the second one, but not the third. This time there is no risk that I'll renege. The second and third are already "in the can". I have a little editing to do before I can post them, but they'll be online in the next couple of weeks.

So here is the HD/stereo remake of Alberto Ginastera's Danza del viejo boyero, the first of the Danzas Argentinas.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Video: Beethoven--Pathétique Sonata, 2nd Movement (HD)

Ok. I know what you're thinking: "What a ripoff! We already have a video of this piece!" It's true. But this is a better video. I'm going back and redoing all my earliest (SD) videos in HD.

The SD/HD cutoff also (coincidentally) marks the line between what I think are the worse performances and the better performances. My goal is to have decent performances on HD for all of the pieces in my repertoire. The videos I need to redo are the Beethoven, Liszt, Albéniz and Ginastera.

This video is also my first video with the new camera Johanne bought me for my birthday! It's a Canon SX1 IS. The camera is in the category they call "superzooms", a bit of a misnomer for cameras that are halfway between point-and-shoot and SLR. They have most of the flexible manual controls of an SLR, significant glass and an internal viewfinder. But the lens is not interchangeable and the viewfinder is an internal LCD (as opposed to a mirrored view through the lens). Among the superzooms, the Canon has the best video features for me (full 1080 HD, full swivel on the LCD, manual focus and exposure locking, and a remote control).

My New Canon SX1 IS

The video quality is great when there's enough light. Here, the video seems a bit noisy, especially if you look at the darker areas. I'll have to keep experimenting with light, settings, etc. But you can't believe how great it feels to be released from the shackles of digital video tape. I'll never go back.

Beethoven: Pathétique Sonata (2nd Movement) from Ken Barker on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Repertoire Season

Hello Blog.

Well, it looks like I let February go by without a single post. Shame on me. The good news is that the blog going dark doesn't mean I've been ignoring music. Au contraire, I'm in the middle of a busy "repertoire season". This is the time of the year for me to be learning brand new pieces to add to my repertoire. Immediately after the late-Fall ConcART, I like to start planning a new program, and that means finding new pieces to play.

I usually hunt around YouTube for pianists I like and composers I'd like to try. If a piece jumps out at me I'll go get the manuscript from the library at UT and spend a week or so reading it and trying it on for size. And if it survives reading week, I order my own copy of the music.

Right now I'm working up four brand new pieces by Johannes Brahms, Manuel de Falla, Robert Schumann (arranged by Franz Liszt) and another new Spanish discovery: Joaquín Nin-Culmell. I realize it's a bit pretentious of me to claim him as a discovery, but when there's only one recording on YouTube, I think that counts as a discovery. I'm also resurrecting an old George Frideric Handel.

The Handel, Falla and Nin-Culmell are already memorized and up to speed. I'd say they're "performable" (given adequately loose performance standards). The Brahms is memorized but not up to speed. It's definitely not at performance, but it will be. The Schumann/Liszt is still in the earliest stages of learning.

Counting everything except the Schumann/Liszt, my memorized repertoire sits right now at twenty: Albeniz, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Falla, Ginastera (×3), Granados (×2), Halffter, Handel, Liszt, Mozart, Nin-Culmell, Rachmaninoff, Schubert and Soler.

Happy Repertoire Season!