New Piano Piece by Mozart Discovered: Allegro in D K626

Today is W.A. Mozart’s 265th birthday and Salzburg and Austria celebrate this with the world premiere of one of his compositions.
At Piano Street we celebrate by releasing the score of the composition, the recently discovered piano piece “Allegro in D K626b/16“.
Download it for free below and celebrate Mozart yourself by playing the piece today!

A hidden treasure
So, how could this manuscript have hidden from public attention? Evidently, after passing from the estate of Mozart’s youngest son into the collection owned by Austrian civil servant and amateur musician Aloys Fuchs, it was mistakenly given away and vanished off the musical map. Owned by an antiquarian book and art dealer in Vienna in the 1880s, the manuscript was brought to auction in 1899. By this time The Köchel catalogue – listing the composer’s works – started mentioning it even though the manuscript itself kept going in and out of auction houses.
In 2018, the ‘unknown’ Allegro was offered for sale to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation on behalf of the family of its owner, a French-Dutch engineer who had bought the manuscript from a dealer in Paris in the late 1920s. The Foundation’s staff and experts from the USA and Germany confirmed that the unattributed piano piece was undeniably by Mozart.
The Allegro in D major, K. 626b/16 fills the front and back of a single sheet of music paper in oblong format. The handwriting is hasty, but error-free. The undated composition stems in all likelihood from the first months 1773, according to the Mozarteum Foundation; it thus originated either during Mozart’s third journey to Italy or immediately after his return to Salzburg. Peculiarities of style suggest that this three-part dance movement is not an original piano piece, but a keyboard arrangement in Mozart’s own hand of an unknown orchestral work.
Free download!

Download the PDF-score and play the piece today to celebrate Mozart’s 265th birthday!
The World Premiere in Salzburg

A facsimile edition of the Allegro in D, complete with extensive introduction and bibliography, has been published by Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg and pianist Seong-Jin Cho will perform the piece in the official world premiere in Saltzburg on 27 January.
Pianist Seong-Jin Cho is the unique performer in the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation which is also the opening day of the Foundation’s first virtual Mozartwoche festival. Cho plays a stimulating selection of works by the Great Master, including the Piano Sonata No. 12, the Allegro in C Major and 94 seconds of an Allegro in D-major, performed for the very first time.
“The Allegro in D major K. 626b/16 is a highly attractive and charming piano piece, that adds yet another facet to the affectionate relationship of Mozart to his sister. How wonderful, that we are now able to participate in this relationship after such a long period of time.”
— Dr. Ulrich Leisinger, director of research of the Mozarteum Foundation,
“The rediscovery of this new work by Mozart is a real gift, not just for the Foundation but for friends of the Mozartwoche all over the world! We are very pleased to be able to fulfil the mission of the Foundation in such wonderful style, together with Seong-Jin Cho and Deutsche Grammophon, our aim being to enable people of all ages to find out more about Mozart’s music, life and personality.”
— Dr Johannes Honsig-Erlenburg, President of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation
“It is a great honour to be invited to give the premiere of a formerly unknown work by Mozart, in the city where he was born and where it may have been written,”
— Seong-Jin Cho, pianist

Resources:
Read more at the press page:
Mozarteum.at
Watch a recording of the official world premiere that will by published here 27 January at 18.00 GMT:
DG YouTube channel
/nilsjohan

The Transcription – Zlata Chochieva

Zlata Chochieva is one of the most interesting musicians of her generation, with her breathtaking technique and musicality as well as with her choice of repertoire. “(re)creations”, her latest CD, offers an exquisite collection of transcriptions by her great heroes, Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Friedman, and in the title lies the secret of this special art form, so closely related to the piano.

Please tell me how you are coping with these challenging times…
It is very difficult not being able to communicate with your audience, but it would be even more pity not to use that time as productive as possible. And I am happy and lucky to say that I have been busy! I took part in several online-concerts, and projects such as “Concerts in Quarantine” of the great film director Jan Schmidt-Garre, from the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin, saved us, musicians, from silence. I also had a chance to focus my mind on my new CD project starting my collaboration with the Accentus label. It is always different and special to work in a recording studio, which is a completely different world, without audience. You are alone playing for microphones. In that moment you realize how important is to have another pair of ears behind the wall – the sound- producer. As you work on creating the sound together, as well as developing the most powerful and interesting interpretation. Working with Tonmeister Philipp Nedel became one of the most remarkable experiences I ever had.
Do you feel the arts in general are appreciated enough for the vital role they play in our society?
Not by many unfortunately. Especially nowadays culture has being put in a sleeping, silent mode. But one of the organizations which doesn’t allow musicians to feel forgotten is the Funk Stiftung that made my CD-project happen and generously supported the Berliner Klavierfestival digital edition where I was invited to play online in the Konzerthaus Berlin last May. Especially to Robert Funk I would like to express my deepest gratitude, as with his such a sincere and dedicated work he brings to music its true meaning and importance into this world.
The lockdown seemed to have influenced you also in the choice of repertoire.
Yes, this is an uncertain, lonely time when we became even more fragile and sensitive than we ever were before. I found my inner voice with the Schubert songs transcribed for piano by Liszt and it became the main impulse for creating a program which became very special to me. There is a stereotype that transcription is rather a virtuoso brilliant piano piece. But I wanted to show the genre Transcription from all different sides, and mainly as a re-creation of an original work that we know from before, putting it into a new concept that would make us find something different in it.
Transcriptions should sound like an original written for piano?
Yes, I want transcriptions to sound that way, because the piano has its own magical sound, and it would be a sad not to fully express it. There is no intention from my side to copy the sound of original works. Rather to make it sound as a true piano piece. You can compare it with poems in translation – Shakespeare, Pushkin. It will sound different but the meaning will remain the same.
With songs it often seems as if the expression is stronger in the piano version.
Yes, that is my feeling too, the vocal line always remained in the transcription, but the meaning of the text is being replaced by the musical expression itself. For instance, Rachmaninoff with the Tchaikovsky’s lullaby enriches the original accompaniment on such an extent that it becomes a magical solo, that sounds even darker in atmosphere than the original song.
The human voice has always been your starting point, and you make Siciliano by Bach, original for flute, sound like a song.
Indeed, the voice has always been the most important teacher for me. For Horowitz, one of the pianists I admire most, the cantabile was one of the qualities he wanted to convey most, and he was greatly inspired by the great singers of his time.
Do transcriptions influence your interpretation of original works for piano, of Chopin or Beethoven, for example?
In transcriptions, you almost automatically develop a feeling of being like a composer. There is more room for imagination and you learn a lot about the pianism of the transcribers. I have recorded all of Chopin and Rachmaninoff’s etudes, but I can hardly recall anything as difficult as Liszt transcriptions of Schubert’s songs or some of Friedman’s or Rachmaninoff’s transcriptions such as for example Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer night’s dream. There are so many layers, each with its own color, sense of timing and we have just two hands to make it all sound as rich but light and natural as possible.
It sounds fantastic on your CD, and you take very fast tempo!
She laughs. It’s funny, in that Scherzo I’m only two seconds faster than Rachmaninoff himself. So I do have an alibi for that pace!
Tell me a little please about Liszt, Friedman and Rachmaninoff, the three transcribers on your CD.
All three have their own characteristics. Robert Schumann considered Liszt’s transcriptions as “new” works. But in his adaptation of Schubert and Mendelssohn songs Liszt tries to preserve the special authentic world of the songs. His work on Schubert’s songs is extremely delicate, as the power of that music lies in its vulnerability. Here Liszt is very faithful to the world of the original, whereas with the most of his transcriptions he usually presents himself more as the main character.
Friedman in his transcriptions was profoundly influenced by Busoni, to whom he even dedicated his transcription of the Tempo di Menuetto from Mahler’s Third Symphony. And especially in his transcriptions of baroque music, for example the Brandenburg Concerto on the CD, you can clearly hear the shadow of Busoni in the manner Friedman symphonically expands the sound and the ideas of the rather minimalistic original. Whereas Rachmaninoff modifies original works much more than Friedman does, he is more a coauthor and the chemistry between himself and a composer of an original is always very strong. He is never too massive but refined, as his pianism also was.
The last piece on the CD, a waltz by Eduard Gärtner in the piano version by Friedman, sounds like a nostalgic farewell.
As I mentioned before this program shows transcriptions from different sides and sometimes as an inner intimate piece. Also this program is very much related to what is known as the Golden Age of the Piano, when the piano world was so different from the general aesthetics of our time. Ignaz Friedman was as one of the greatest representatives of that special era that personally deeply influenced me too. This waltz would be one of the Friedmans typical encores and with its special warmth and nostalgia it reflects a very special way of story telling – when every listener feels the piano “speaks” privately, intimately to him only.
Author: Eric Schoones

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Read more:
www.zlatachochieva.com
www.accentus.com
www.funk-stiftung.org

This article is a contribution from the German and Dutch magazine Pianist through Piano Street’s International Media Exchange Initiative and the Cremona Media Lounge.

Pianist Magazine is published in seven countries, in two different editions: in German (for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein) and in Dutch (for Holland and Belgium).
The magazine is for the amateur and professional alike, and offers a wide range of topics connected to the piano, with interviews, articles on piano manufacturers, music, technique, competitions, sheetmusic, cd’s, books, news on festivals, competitions, etc.
For a preview please check: pianist-magazin.de or www.pianistmagazine.nl

/nilsjohan

Piano Day 2021

Piano Day is an annual worldwide event originally founded in 2015 by Nils Frahm and a group of likeminded people and takes place on the 88th day of the year – in 2021 it’s the 29th March, explained by the number of keys on the instrument being celebrated.

“Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.”
– Nils Frahm
Official website: pianoday.org
Exclusive broadcasts from ARTE

The artist lineup at the Théâtre de l’Épée de Bois in Paris displays a a rich and varied palette of piano music. The different spaces of the theatre will welcome live performances by Alexandre Kantorow, Sofiane Pamart, Macha Gharibian, Etienne Jaumet & Fabrizio Rat, and last but not least Françoiz Breut & Marc Melià.
DG Global Livestream
[The livestream has ended.]
Deutsche Grammophon again marks #WorldPianoDay March 28, 3pm CET, with an international virtual festival featuring performances by members of its family of artists, live-streamed on their YouTube channel. The programme includes keyboard classics on the one hand and a selection of contemporary works performed by their composers on the other. The artists, featuring DG, further UMG and guest pianists, include (in order of appearance): Maria João Pires, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Alice Sara Ott, Jan Lisiecki, Lang Lang, Rudolf Buchbinder, Kit Armstrong, Kirill Gerstein, Daniil Trifonov, Seong-Jin Cho, Katia & Marielle Labèque, Joep Beving, Chad Lawson, Balmorhea, Rui Massena and Yiruma.
As in the past, the piano remains the chief instrument for musical invention today. The virtual festival therefore also includes a selection of contemporary works performed by their composers, all of whom are part of the Universal Music family of artists. In particular Joep Beving will perform a special track which he has created for World Piano Day and which will be releasd worldwide across all digital retail partners. The piece is called Losar, which is the name of the Tibetan New Year festivities. The composer and pianist was inspired by the way the Tibetans celebrate the coming of a new cycle.
/patrick

Lowell Liebermann’s Personal Demons

In this exclusive digital encounter with the praised and enigmatic composer Lowell Liebermann on his premiere recording as a solo pianist on the Steinway & Sons label, Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell meets the pianist behind the composer and the composer behind the pianist.
Clearly, Liebermann’s latest album release is in a way an attempt to measure a time span and it’s not only a 60-year celebration but a very personal way to – and by means of the piano – let us follow the composer’s ways into his musical universe. The album contains music “he wish he wrote” and also offers music that he actually has written. Liebermann follows Stravinsky’s dictum; “my music is about the notes themselves and nothing more”, but it still leaves us with the question about the communicating qualities of the composer’s music.
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Personal Demons – album content:
Liebermann: Gargoyles, Op. 29
Kabeláč: 8 Preludes, Op. 30
Liszt: Totentanz, S525/R188
Liebermann: 4 Apparitions, Op. 17
Schubert: 13 Variations on a theme by Anselm Hüttenbrenner in A Minor, D. 576
Busoni: Fantasia contrappuntistica
Liebermann: Nocturne No. 10, Op. 99

Piano Street: Thank you for letting us talk to you about your latest recording “Personal Demons”. Your album contains composers rooted in tradition yet with a strong urge to develop contemporary concepts. They are all solitaires, I wouldn’t say misfits, but persevering despite a lack of understanding in their times. Schubert, one of many working in the total shadow of the great LvB, Busoni, the omni genius without a homeland, Kabelac, rejected by the Czech communist regime and Abbé Liszt, exploring inner, spiritual development and thus new harmonic territories – away from the extravagant superstar showmanship of his early years. In a way the mentioned composers carry personal demons too (Busoni “cannibalizing” on Bach for example) and suggest that this is a way how music can develop through time.
Lowell, you are a pianist and have therefore played vast amounts of music. If you were to extend your list of fascinations – not necessarily demons – which would these be and why?
LL: You are right that the composers on this album are all, in one way or another, outliers, and that is part of their attraction. There are certainly other composers, more mainstream, who have had an even greater influence on my development as a musician. It was Bach who first made me fall in love with music. I was actually first exposed to Bach’s music through “Switched On Bach,” the synthesized versions by Wendy Carlos that have held up remarkably well, I think. But perhaps the most profound influence on my musical growth was Beethoven. My first composition teacher at Juilliard, David Diamond, had me follow a Beethovenian model of keeping sketchbooks and rigorously working out musical materials. And my piano teacher, Jacob Lateiner, was a Beethoven specialist. It was through working on the Beethoven Sonatas with him that I first fully appreciated the interconnectedness of every element of those scores: that the articulations, dynamics, etc, were inseparable from the musical content and development, and not to be altered at a performer’s whimsy. And then there is Ravel, who set a standard of musical perfection that is something to strive for.

Liszt’s Totentanz
PS: Let’s turn to the macabre part on your album and Liszt’s Totentanz, a work he re-wrote as a solo piece from originally being composed for piano with orchestra.
The work is variations on the gregorian chant Dires Irae (the Day of Wrath), a theme used by many a composer. For instance, it appears in Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody where it merges with the original theme. You also wrote a Variations on a theme by Paganini for piano and orchestra along with three piano concertos. What do you win or lose when composing for piano with orchestra compared to piano solo?
LL: Of course, when composing with orchestra one gains all the orchestral colors and an enormous amount of creative flexibility that comes with all those added instruments. And I think there is also a special dynamic in the dialogue between a solo piano and orchestra that creates a unique kind of musical tension that also opens up all kinds of possibilities.
PS: What did Liszt gain in the solo version?
LL: Going from the orchestral version of Totentanz to the solo piano version is a very special case, I think. I think the piece gains a certain kind of austerity in the piano solo version that is entirely appropriate and beneficial. At this point, I prefer the solo version. Liszt made a cut in the coda in the solo version which takes some getting used to one is familiar with the orchestral version. Several pianists have reinstated this cut, transcribing those few measures themselves. I can understand the impulse to do so, but I prefer to leave the work it as Liszt saw fit.
Performing own compositions
PS: It’s a joyous favor being able to talk to a composer who is also the performer and history has given us so much amazing music from creators with this combination of function and skill. On the album you give us two of your own works; the immensely popular Gargoyles Op. 29 and your chosen 10th Nocturne Op. 99 (out of eleven, first Nocturne composed in 1987). This poses the question about person vs. persona. When performing your own repertoire, which works do you choose and – to add an even more pathologic dimension – are you interpreting the work or are you performing/projecting yourself?
LL: The composing and performing are two very different functions that require different focus and utilize different parts of one’s brain and psyche. There is a real danger in performing one’s own works that one thinks one knows them better than one in fact does. The kind of learning that you need to do as a performer is much different from the knowledge and memory you have of a piece from having written it. A very high percentage of the memory needed for performance is muscle memory rather than intellectual memory. And so, when learning one of my own pieces for performance, I have to forget that I wrote it, and approach it as if it had been written by someone else. And that includes studying all the dynamic and expressive markings anew, because one can forget one’s own intentions and get sloppy. And this also brings up what I think is a bit of a cliché, that a composer’s music is a direct reflection of their personality, or a reflection their emotional life at the time of writing the piece. This is simply not true. A composer can write a tragic piece at the happiest point in their life and vice versa. It is often more like acting via music rather than writing an autobiography in music.

A desirable pianistic style
PS: You are one of the few contemporary composers who can out the big names and take place in traditional pianist recital programs worldwide. What makes your music so desirable for pianists? Would you mind if I ask for a pianistic self-analysis?
LL: I’ve always felt that it is important for me, as a composer, to keep in contact with the act of performance. It informs my writing in so many ways, even just experiencing the sheer physical joy of playing certain things. I think keeping awareness of the fact that music is an act of communication in real time is very important, and it is easy to lose track of that when one has one’s head buried in the notes. One aspect of my music that, perhaps, has helped its popularity is that, no matter what is going on harmonically, my music is almost always melodically based. My music mixes tonality (usually not in a traditionally functional sense, though), atonality, octatonic or other synthetic scales, etc., basically anything that I feel fits the material at hand. Some critics have called my music neo-romantic (a label I disagree with) and I think what most of them are reacting to is the fact that it is melodically based. It’s just an element of music that I find has to be there to keep my own interest.
Composing for flute
PS: Melodic quality must be a key for any composer but after a look in your works list we very often see works for or/and including the flute. What is your story with this instrument?
LL: My very first commission for flute was a Sonata for Flute and Piano, which was commissioned by the Spoleto Chamber Music Festival for Paula Robison and Jean-Yves Thibaudet back in the late 80s. That piece “took off” in a really big way and started to be played all over the world. One flautist who included it in his repertoire was James Galway, who asked if I would orchestrate it for him so he could perform it with orchestra. I told him I would much rather just write a new Concerto for him, and that led to the commission for my Flute Concerto. Things escalated from there, and there were further commissions from him and other flautists: a Flute and Harp Concerto, a Piccolo Concerto, Flute Trios, etc. The flute community as a whole is one of the most enthusiastic groups of instrumentalists out there, who are constantly on the lookout for new pieces and perform them frequently. They share information and share new pieces. Flute works have indeed become an important part of my catalogue but, contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, I do not play the flute myself.
The post-pandemic period
PS: We wish to congratulate you on your 60th birthday which took place on February 22! In terms of time spans and trajectories and in reference to composers in retrospective, will you now enter a new compositional period?
LL: I think those questions of composer’s “periods” are best left to musicologists after a composer has died, and I’m not intending to do that for a while! What I can say is that, although I don’t know what period I will be entering, I do feel that there will be some sort of tectonic shift in my composition, not so much because of this particular anniversary, but because of the circumstances we have all been living through. At the beginning of the present pandemic, all of my commissions were put on hold, which enabled me to focus on my piano playing and this new recording “Personal Demons”. But this has meant that I have not actually written anything new for the better part of a year, the longest amount of time I have ever spent without finishing a composition. Now that there are flickers of light at the end of the tunnel, the commissions are being rekindled, and I do now have to start writing again. But I think the time away from writing will have a natural effect of reassessment. How that will manifest itself, I can’t really tell until I do start writing again, which should be any day now…
/patrick

State Of the Art Innovations – The 102 keys Stephen Paulello Grand Piano

For more than 30 years, Stephen Paulello has systematically studied all the components of the piano, including the instruments of previous eras. But as a pianist dreaming of more complex and expressive sonorities, he doesn’t content himself with a cult of the past. Instead, he has often used his findings to challenge generally accepted ideas. His unique grand pianos are constructed to order in his workshop-laboratory 100 kms south of Paris, where there is also a recording studio. Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell has interviewed Stephen Paulello about his visions and achievements.

Piano Street: Many a professional and famous musician have spoken of you, and your instruments are frequently used for recordings. Vienna has ordered one Opus 102 instrument from you. What can you tell us about this ”sounding” part of the Stephen Paulello, for those who cannot come and visit your workshop in Villethierry outside Paris?
Stephen Paulello: An Opus 102 was sold to a Viennese dealer who would like to sell it to a great concert hall or recording studio in Vienna. The Opus 102 has a great equality of sound in all registers, a great power, a great dynamic, an infinite variety of colours, great clarity, very deep bass, very bright treble, an exceptional sustain that allows a true legato. However, it is difficult to describe the sound of a piano in words. It is better to come to us and taste this instrument. This experience usually does not leave one indifferent.

PS: Instrument makers are artists with an additional dimension. They do not only know what they are looking for sound wise, but they also know how to achieve it in terms of construction. All artists are driven by an initial source or inspiration. Which was your trigger in wanting to create your own piano brand?
SP: I made my first concert grand piano (2m87) thirty years ago. At this time, I was a concert pianist and piano teacher and there was no question of creating a brand but of making an instrument that would allow me to do what I could not do with usual commercial instruments. I used to play this instrument for my concerts and recordings and often lent it to some of my friends. In 1996, I developed a new way of stringing pianos – “hybrid stringing” – by creating my own plain steel wires, which are now marketed all over the world. In 2004, I decided to give up my career as a pianist and piano teacher in order to devote myself to the manufacture in very small series, extremely meticulous, of non-standard instruments. I wanted to rethink piano building in all its details.
PS: The construction of your grand instrument with 102 notes stresses the use and importance of parallel oblique strings and a barless frame. What can you tell us about this specific relationship including the extra 4th?
SP: Our three piano models (SP190, SP230, SP300) have 102 keys: 9 extra notes in the low register (a sixth) and 5 extra notes (a fourth) in the high register. Several reasons led me to add notes to the usual 88-note keyboard:

The evolution of piano making ceased when the range of the keyboard stopped expanding. Extending again the keyboard, is a symbol that piano history moves ahead again
The additional notes, especially in the low register, enriches the whole piano sound.
Today’s composers have at their disposal an instrument that broadens their scope. Until today, more than 10 works were written especially for Opus 102, including extra-notes.

Regarding the barless frame, the aim was to avoid the change of sound quality that is usually noticeable around each frame bar. Removing them brings additional homogeneity and equality to the whole. Parallel strings significantly increase the legibility, intelligibility and articulation of musical phrases especially in the lower-middle and bass ranges. I made them oblique so as to allow as long speaking lengths as those of a cross stringed instrument.

PS: Many a discussion on piano construction and re-thinking comes down to the wooden case – quality and best sound design – as well as the strings. Which are your thoughts on this?
SP: As I mentioned earlier, I have developed another way of stringing pianos by producing and marketing SP strings. The plain strings of our pianos are covered with an electrolytic nickel coating. The bass strings are spun with nickel-plated soft iron and nickel-plated bronze. The soundboard, the bridge, the striking line, the action, the keyboard deserve according to me a priority attention before taking care of the wooden case and external finish, even if we worked on it as well.
One recent recording made in Studio Stephen Paulello is an album of Bach Toccatas played by Laurent Cabasso, who says of the instrument:
– The first time I tried Stephen Paulello’s Opus 102, I was immediately struck by three things, three qualities which we rarely encounter together in a piano: an exceptional length of sound, perfect clarity of the registers due to its parallel strings, and a clear, bright tone… A tenacious doubt often plagued me whenever I played Bach on the piano. This sensation is radically different on Stephen Paulello’s instrument, which brings a remarkable clarity to the polyphony and the tone, so essential to this music.

Stanchinsky is Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice

The short-lived Russian pianist and composer Alexey Stanchinsky was playing in public by age six and was highly regarded in all the musical activities he undertook. Swedish pianist Peter Jablonski has recorded an album with selected Stanchinsky works for the Ondine label, a recording that was recently selected as Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice of May 2021. Piano Street talked to Jablonski about the young forgotten composer and his works.
Piano Street: Congratulations on your Stanchinsky recording for Ondine being selected as Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice of May 2021! You have always nourished an interest in intriguing repertoire and your recording of the seldom heard Scriabin Mazurkas gained great acclaim. How did you find Alexei Stanchinsky, the young Russian, who died at 26?
Peter Jablonski: My partner Anastasia, who is a musicologist specialising in Russian music, told me about Stanchinsky and his connection to Scriabin, Taneyev, and Moscow. She then gave me the score of his Nocturne, and when I played it through, I was immediately hooked—the music sounded so fresh, so original and so different from most of what I played before; it simply captivated me and pushed me to get to know his music further.
PS: You are well documented in Russian and Soviet composers’ repertoire. What stands out in Stanchinskiy’s works and what do find being intriguing?
PJ: The most intriguing for me is the versatile, and the power of his talent, which was burning such a short time. What he achieved in 10 years of his entire creative life is astonishing. His music combines so many things: folk-like elements, complex polyphony, full-blooded Russian broodiness and gloominess, and also humour, grace, and great sincerity.
Hear Peter Jablonski perform Stanchinsky’s Sketch no. 3:

PS: What can you say about his production of piano works which started in 1905, the forms and stylistic development until his early death?
PJ: I spent a lot of time carefully making the selection of Stanchinsky’s works for the recording, because I wanted to give a well-rounded picture of the originality and many facets of his creative talent and also the works that I felt a direct connection to. Like so many of his colleagues at the time, he begins by being inspired by Chopin, and also by Scriabin; his early works are very melody and harmony driven and lyrical. The Piano Sonata in E-flat minor (he composed two more after this) is an early work, displaying a lot of passion, character, melodic invention, and harmonic complexity. It is also rather demanding and awkwardly written pianistically! There are many instances where the score is ambiguous about notes and tempo, so one has to navigate the score with care. The bravura is always secondary to the musical message and the passion is burning intensely from within not in a brazen outwardly fashion. The Preludes are real character studies where despite his tender age, Stanchinsky shows real mastery at creating moods and distinct characters in the space of only a few bars, not unlike Grieg who was another early influence of Stanchinsky’s. These are perhaps the works that also clearly show his connection to the pianistic tradition of Scriabin and somewhat also Rachmaninoff. My passion for, and interest in the Mazurka genre are probably quite well known, so of course I had to take both Stanchinsky’s Mazurkas. Both mazurkas show clear influences of Chopin and the wonderful lilting quality of the rhythms are clearly there. They make me wonder if Szymanowski knew them as they seem to be a clear bridge between Chopin and Szymanowski. As character pieces the 15 Sketches (originally his Op. 1), are perhaps the most inventive and daring, with everything from slow lyricism to pianistic pyrotechnics in them. They were so good that they even made Prokofiev jealous! Songs Without Words are in the best song-like, lyrical tradition of Russian folk music, and are very simple without being simplistic. Again, we hear similarities with Grieg here.
Stanchinsky’s Nocturne was a real surprise to me. First of all, it seems to be written in a format that we meet often in Chopin, for example, with lyrical outer parts and a stormy middle section. But, in Stanchinsky’s nocturne the middle section is so unusual pianistically, I could say it is outstanding it its technical challenges, the writing is a bit awkward, like in the Sonata in E-flat minor, and because of that, it is easy to lose track of the fantastic music within.
The Variations are one of the most unusual, I would say, and intriguing work on this recording. Their outward simplicity and clarity are almost medieval, and show Stanchinsky’s interest in early music, which developed into his complete obsession with Bach and horrifically complex polyphonic writing later on.
To summarise my view of Stanchinsky’s music is quite easy—it is a composer so unique, who is his short 10 years of creative life managed to create works so diverse and so complex, one can only but wonder about, and be sorry for the fact that his life did not last longer for him to share with us the full extend of his extraordinary musical talent.
PS: He was said to wanting to take consultation from Nikolai Medtner in the end of his life. Can we see a musical connection there?
PJ: The connection between Medtner and Stanchinsky is easy to establish: both were influenced by and taught by the same man: Sergey Taneyev, who developed their interest in counterpoint. So, both composers have an epic, story-telling element in their music, and both were masters of counterpoint.

Click the album cover to listen to the complete album.
This feature is available for Gold members of pianostreet.com

Play album > >

Listen to Gramophones podcast:
Peter Jablonski on the piano music of Alexei Stanchinsky

/patrick

Beethoven Celebration in Retrospect

For Nikolas Sideris, editor-in-chief at Editions Musica Ferrum, the Beethoven year 2020 was more than just a great anniversary. It also represented the final stage of a mega project started seven years earlier – the Mount Everest of all LvB 250 homage projects. In cooperation with Susanne Kessel, a pianist from the city of Bonn, 250 composers from 47 countries were invited to compose piano pieces referring to Beethoven and his work, in such diverse genres as new music, jazz, pop, film and more. The premieres of the piano pieces were held in Beethoven’s birth city, Bonn and in other cities as well. Radio recordings (WDR) and CD productions accompany the project. All 260 pieces have been published by Editions Musica Ferrum in ten volumes. Piano Street’s Patrick Jovell talks to Nikolas Sideris about how this gigantic and thought-provoking project turned out.

Piano Street: Since we last met for an interview in 2016 on your project ”Beauty and Hope in the 21st Century”, you already then mentioned a mega project you had entered with pianist Susanne Kessel to be completed 2020, as a part of the LvB 250 celebrations. Tell me how it all started?
Nikolas Sideris: Yes, I remember when we first met in 2016. Thank you for that initial meeting and interview. I met Susanne Kessel through a common friend and composer, Nickos Harizanos. He introduced us and then we immediately hit it off, feeling, both, that we were a great fit for each other. I had just published Nicko’s “Monographs II” which is filled with graphic notation and that was the evidence needed to persuade everyone that Editions Musica Ferrum was ready to tackle such a gigantic – and exciting – project. Soon the pieces for the first volume started coming in, which is when all practical issues came into play and the real adventure started for me. The rest is… history.
PS: Your project contains 260 pieces in ten volumes and 250 composers have submitted compositions. How did you manage to find and engage all these people and what was required in order to qualify as a composer?
NS: For the anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven in 2020, pianist Susanne Kessel invited composers from around the world to compose piano pieces which refer to Beethoven and his work. Since 2013, she issued personal invitations to composers of new music, jazz and film music. The premieres of the piano pieces were held in Beethoven’s birth city, Bonn and in other cities as well. Radio recordings (WDR) and CD productions accompany the project. All the pieces are published from Editions Musica Ferrum and are available for the international music world.
PS: In December the last volume 10 was published. Congratulations! In volume 8 though, the pieces were written by young composers. Can you tell us a little bit about this encouraging idea, the people involved and their pieces?
NS: It contains 18 new pieces and 2 pieces from older volumes which were composed by composers younger than the age of 18. Volume 8 was perceived early in the process of the project by Susanne Kessel who was keen to include as many people and genres as possible in the project. The voice of the young should not be excluded from such a wider project. So around 2018 both she and a composer and dear friend, from volume 1, David P. Graham started scouting for young talents in various music schools worldwide. As with every volume, we ended up with a variety of styles, ideas, and nationalities true to the spirit of the project. From Germany, to the UK, to Estonia, to Japan, to China, and elsewhere.
PS: From April 2020 you presented a ”250 pieces for Beethoven Marathon” which started on April 1 and ran until December 15. Every day a new composer and piece was introduced. Can you tell us a little about this initiative and how it took place?
NS: Volume 9 (second to last volume) went to print in the end of January, and it was supposed to ship in the end of February to both London and Bonn. London to reach the Editions Musica Ferrum warehouse, and in Bonn to reach Susanne Kessel and be present on the 13th of March on the official publication date of the mentioned volume.
Unfortunately things did not go as planned. By the beginning of March the signs were rather negative in terms of the Corona-virus and as thus the concert on the 13th of March, in Bonn, was cancelled, but Susanne herself was present to offer a glimpse of a few copies that arrived there in time. The rest of the copies never left Greece. They were stored in a secure warehouse, until the lockdown and traveling restrictions were lifted. A lot of further concerts were cancelled, or suspended, and it was unclear on what will happen for the remaining of 2020. So Susanne threw the idea of making an Internet based “250 piano pieces for Beethoven Marathon” where all pieces were to be presented, one per day. With photos, links to the recordings of each piece and links to the individual sheet music of each piece, both the recording and the score for purchase digitally. The Editions Musica Ferrum website was updated to host digital individual files and serve automatic sales, while bandcamp is hosting all the recordings of the pieces for this project that have been recorded. The pieces are presented by volume, and in the same order as they appear in the printed score and on the 26th of April, the 2nd volume resumed the marathon.
https://www.facebook.com/250pianopieces/
PS: Such a marvelous way for the public to get acquainted with the material! As a pianist and/or piano teacher, is it possible to get guidance on the difficulty level of the pieces or which is the best way to get a feeling for what to pick or start with from such a grand project?
NS: This is something we are starting to work on and it is something that I’m keen on adding in the Musica Ferrum website, as extra information for all works. It is missing and I do feel that it is vital, not only for this massive project, but for all the other works as well.
We are also planning to release an extra volume, or collection if you will, with a choice of some of the more approachable, yet educational works in the near future.
PS: You are fortunate to have the whole view on the production of pieces. Can you tell me the different paths the composers have used to strike a connection to or being inspired by the project theme Ludwig van Beethoven?
NS: This has certainly been a wonderful trip and happened all the way until volume 10 came out! In order to answer this question one needs to consider how different each composer is. So the same material can result in drastically different results. For example quite a few composers took inspiration from some of Beethoven’s works, which we also have been able to list. But the approach of each one resulted in such a different work that it becomes difficult to tell the initial inspiration in the end. In particular, from the top of my head. I can remember the 3rd movement of the Tempest Sonata in D minor. One composer counted all the notes, used the same rhythm and order, but changed the pitch series completely, resulting in something rather unexpected. Another composer used the main rhythm to use, playing inside the piano with timpani mallets and so on. Other composers used his name as a starting point. BEetHovEn (H being B natural in German). Some took away parts of his letters, or his philosophy, his life and so on. And this is the magic of this project. It is such an open project that you can expect anything really, while at the same time having this guarantee that there is a link to Beethoven, being the Master that he was.
PS: The whole project started seven years ago from a basis with you being an editor-in-chief AND a composer. With this massive output and vast relationship with the material, how and in which ways have your personal views on Ludwig van Beethoven changed or become nurtured during this period of time?
NS: This is a very interesting question, as it links works already well known (to me and to everyone) and the new filters provided by the contemporary composers. It’s a fascinating theory and actual fact that my understanding of Beethoven’s music and life changed vastly through the 250 piano pieces for Beethoven, and through the playing and thoughts and whole leadership of Susanne Kessel. It’s with newly found interest I started looking again with works that I’ve already performed, or heard, and paid attention to different aspects of the old works, in comparison and connection with the new works, leading me to form new thoughts and establish new ideas about them. It’s a life changing project and one that changed me completely.

Musica Ferrum kindly offers three free scores from the collection to all Piano Street members. Login to your account and visit this page to download the scores:
https://www.pianostreet.com/members/free/250-for-beethoven-scores.php
List of Beethoven works functioning as musical and thematic inspiration for composers of the project:
http://250-piano-pieces-for-beethoven.com/noteneditionen/werkliste/
The composers:
http://250-piano-pieces-for-beethoven.com/en/composers/
Project Webpage: http://250-piano-pieces-for-beethoven.com/
/nilsjohan

The World of Piano Competitions – issue 1 2021

As a collaborating partner Piano Street is proud to present the fifth issue of The World of Piano Competitions, a magazine initiated by PIANIST Magazine (Netherlands and Germany) and its Editor-in-Chief Eric Schoones. Here we get a rich insight into the world of international piano competitions through the eyes of its producers and participants.
Click cover to download:

Contributing Editors: Gustav Alink (Alink-Argerich Foundation), Christo Lelie, Gerrit Glaner (Steinway), Patrick Jovell (Piano Street), Florian Riem (WFIMC)
Free download!
Piano Street is happy to share the fifth issue of WOPC with our readers free of charge: The-World-of-Piano-Competitions-issue-1-2021.pdf
Content
Interviews
Andrey Gugnin | Getting started
Alexander Gavrylyuk | The right mindset
Alexandra Kaptein | Under Liszt’s spell
Daniel Kogan | Blessing or Burden
In Profile
International Schimmel Piano Competition
Liszt in Weimar and Bayreuth
Pearl River Kayserburg International Youth Piano Competition
Santander International Piano Competition
International Telekom Beethoven Competition Bonn
ARD International Music Competition
The International Schubert-Competition Dortmund
Behind the Scenes
Steinway Prizewinner Concerts Network | Challenges
and chances
WFIMC Piano Competitions on five continents
How are the piano competitions coping with the pandemic?
Virtual Competitions in Reality
Géza Anda Competition | A helping hand
Bechstein lends a hand
Liszt Utrecht | New Ways
Piano Competitions During Pandemic | Can’t Stop The Music
The Piano
Pianists and Piano Brands
Spacewalk from the 3D printer

Background
The piano enjoys a tremendous popularity worldwide and has the universal quality to be able to communicate through cultures, history and geographical borders. The value of piano competitions cannot be overestimated in terms of focus on the piano as an instrument and piano playing. The competition industry engages a multiplicity of concerns including hi-end piano manufacturing, media coverage and broadcast, repertoire spotlight and pedagogy, concert and lecture production and not least, career opportunity and exposure for laureates and non-laureates. All this contributes to a richer cultural life and can powerfully promote the aim we all share: to spread the joy and riches of the art of piano playing.
”Piano music, especially live, is incomparable and can be a great source of joy for players and listeners. We all should strive to allow as many people benefit from it as possible. For that, this edition of The World of Piano Competition is an excellent form of encouragement. I hope its message spreads widely! I wish everyone much joy reading it and, later on, attending a concert!”
— Guido Zimmermann, President Steinway & Sons Europe
THE WORLD OF PIANO COMPETITIONS
is published twice a year by PIANIST, as a part of the regular edition, and also worldwide as a separate magazine.
PIANIST (regular edition) is published four times a year in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and Belgium.
www.pianist-magazin.de
www.pianistmagazine.nl
/patrick

Andras Schiff, Brahms and the Question of Tradition

Much attention and mention is given Sir Andras Schiff’s latest remarkable recording of both Brahms’ piano concertos with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Schiff’s choice of instrument is a Blüthner grand piano built in Leipzig around 1859, the year in which the first D minor concerto was premiered. Schiff has changed foot in his views on period instruments and the recording can be seen as an ambitious attempt to scrutinize and fully bring out the true characteristics of Brahms’ works.

Several years ago, Schiff acquired an 1820 fortepiano, which was used to make recordings of two double albums with Schubert’s late piano works. Schiff says: ”Playing the Brahms concertos on a modern piano with modern orchestras, there were always balance problems. And I found, especially in the second B-flat Concerto, that it was just physically and psychologically very hard to play. Somehow, with this Blüthner piano, the physical difficulties disappear. The keys are a tiny bit narrower, so the stretches are not so tiring, and the action is much lighter. So there is not this colossal physical work involved.” In recent interviews, Schiff has criticised the increasing homogeneity of piano performance, with modern Steinways used for repertoire of every era.

In the album’s liner notes Schiff describes his aim of this ECM label New Series project: “To liberate it from the burden of the – often questionable – trademarks of performing tradition.”
The ambition has been to get back to the sound and scale of the performances that Brahms himself would have expected. Among Brahms’ favourite orchestras was Hans von Bülow’s band in Meiningen, which had just 49 players. Schiffs’ previous collaboration with the period instrument ensemble Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the Schumann piano concerto in London, led to a natural choice of ensemble for this recording.
Listen to a sample from the album:

David Weininger in New York Times asked Schiff in which passages the use of these instruments allows the music to come across with unusual freshness, and Schiff replied:
“For example, in the first movement of the Second Concerto, the development section can sound, in modern performance, very muddy and not clear, because there is so much counterpoint there. I’m very pleased to hear all those details. But also, take the opening of the third movement, with the cello solo. If it’s played with these instruments, next to the cello solo you hear all the other lower strings: the cellos and violas, and then later the oboe and bassoon. I just hear these layers of sound instead of a general sauce.”
András Schiff on the many facets of Johannes Brahms

András Schiff on performance tradition and choice of instruments

”He has gone back to the original manuscripts to check details of his performances, discovering, for instance, that Brahms had attached a metronome marking to the first movement of the D minor concerto that is significantly slower than we usually hear today, but which was omitted from the printed editions. It’s a shock to begin with but Schiff makes it convincing, gradually building the tension through the movement as the sound of his Blüthner – with its much less overpowering lower register than we are used to hearing from modern Steinways – blends beautifully with the soft grained OAE strings, while in the slow movement, it’s the wonderfully mellow woodwind that come into their own.” – The Guardian
“Schiff’s whole point of doing it this way is to strip the music of all of its accumulated performance traditions, and what the Blüthner piano may lack in oomph is more than made up for by the mellow smoothness of its tone and the clarity of textures across the various registers of the instrument…This warmth is pleasingly complemented by the orchestral playing…I was really surprised by how much this recording changed the way I both heard and thought about these concertos.” – Presto Classical
/patrick

“We humans need music” – Martha Argerich at 80 – Ever Totally Irresistible

Noticed everywhere and named one of the greatest pianists of our time, Martha Argerich turned 80 on June 5. When hearing Argerich play, philosopher and musicologist Theodor W Adorno’s words instantly come to mind: “The most difficult should sound easy and effortless, overcoming all obstacles to return to a liberated game.”

To mark the 80th anniversary of the legendary artist, Symphoniker Hamburg presents Martha Argerich Festival 2021 featuring 12 live concerts – live streamed in very high quality video and sound for fans of Martha Argerich around the world.
Martha Argerich Festival 2021 – Livestreamed

DATES: June 20 to July 1, 2021
LOCATION: Great Hall of the Laeiszhalle Hamburg (Germany)
CONCERTS:
Martha Argerich Festival 2021 presents 12 exclusive concerts featuring world-class artists, including Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maria João Pires, Mischa Maisky, Renaud Capuçon, Gidon Kremer and many other artists.
Program:
Festival program > >
Schedule of livestream concerts > >

Did you know?

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires and granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, and was taught by Italian-Argentine pianist Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who taught her to sing with her fingers ”like bel canto sopranos like Maria Malibran or Giulia Grisi”.
At eight she made her debut in Mozart’s Concerto in D minor KV 466.
At fourteen, supported by the government of Juan Perón, she went to study with Friedrich Gulda in Vienna, which was the “greatest inspiration of my career”.
In 1960 she made one of the most brilliant debut records ever: The staccatos, the broken chords and the brilliant passages of Chopin’s C sharp minor Scherzo; the repetitions divided between both hands on a note by Prokofiev’s Toccata; the octave thunder of the Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt – mastered it in such a way that it was out of this world. The loudest applause came from Vladimir Horowitz, playing jokes on his friends telling them that it was him playing the Toccata…
In 1961 she spent time taking instruction with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in Piedmont and then stopped playing for a while, working as a secretary, and married the composer Robert Chen from whom she separated shortly before the birth of their daughter.
Two other daughters come from the marriages with the conductor Charles Dutoit and the pianist Stephen Kovacevich.

Known of her high demands on herself, Argerich sometimes has expressed wishes for a different profession. At times during her long career Argerich avoided the arena of the large concert halls and played neither concertos nor solo recitals. Instead, she devoted herself to chamber music with friends, among them generously sponsored young musicians, at her festival in Lugano. In the late 1990s she also won the battle against serious cancer.
Further reading and listening
To sum up Martha Argerich’s 60 years as a performer is virtually impossible. Piano Street therefore has selected a number of fine articles containing different aspects of the artist and her long career. These articles also offer video performances and Medici.tv’s film compilation ”80 minutes with the magical Martha Argerich”.

Deutsche Welle
‘Lioness’ of the piano: Martha Argerich turns 80
The Guardian
Martha Argerich review – our greatest living pianist? It’s hard to disagree
UdiscoverMusic
Martha Argerich: 80th Birthday Celebration
ABC-Australia
Martha Argerich at 80
Classic FM – Photo gallery
Martha Argerich: 11 stunning photos of the great pianist
/patrick