Monday, December 30, 2013

Video: Hamelin--The Ringtone Waltz

When you hang out in piano circles, somebody eventually asks the question: "What is the most difficult piano music ever composed?". The first answers are the obvious ones: something by Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, etc. Then come the more obscure composers: Alkan, Balakirev, Godowsky, Sorabji, Kapustin. And Marc-André Hamelin. Now, I have no interest in torturing myself by trying to learn difficult music for the sake of learning difficult music. But I figure: if you're a piano nut, you owe it to yourself to hear what's being done with the piano "out at the fringes".

Marc-André Hamelin is particularly interesting to me, and not just because he's Canadian. He's taken some of the most notoriously difficult piano pieces and "recomposed" them to be even more difficult. But they're hugely entertaining at the same time. His arrangement of Liszt's arrangement ("La Campanella") of Paganini's second violin concerto is insane. But it's so clever and funny that it makes me smile from beginning to end.

I have no illusion that I'll ever be able to nail any of Hamelin's serious compositions. But as it turns out, he seems to have composed one (relatively) simple piece: The Ringtone Waltz (also known as "Valse Irritation d'après Nokia"). Rumor has it that he would break into this piece in concert if a cell phone went off in the audience. Not sure I believe that. Anyway, it's a nice, short, learnable piece and it lets me claim that I can play Hamelin!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You've really mastered this one. I have tried playing it and it is not easy. Nice picture in picture at the end.