Monday, October 8, 2007

Grand Piano 005 - Music for Students

Sometimes composers' easy music for students represents some of their best efforts. This program is made up of music that may be easy to play but obviously wasn't easy to write, played by first-class pianists.

JS Bach - 2 Part Inventions (3/4/5) - Glenn Gould
D. Shostakovich - 3 Fantastic Dances - Dmitri Shostakovich (1956 broadcast)
F. Mendelssohn - 6 Children's Pieces, Op. 72 - Daniel Barenboim
B. Bartok - For Children (Volume 1) - Lili Kraus
S. Prokofiev - 6 pieces from "Children's Music" - Igor Zhukov

Why would a great pianist perform music written for beginners? Because sometimes it's some of the composer's best music. In this program, five major pianists (including a major composer-pianist, Shostakovich) play music that was written for students, but despite the technical simplicity of the works their musical content is still first-rate.

Download The Grand Piano Podcast 005 - "Music for Students" here (128 kbps mp3 , 49.2 Mb, 53 min 44 sec)

Subscribeto The Grand Piano podcast here

Monday, October 1, 2007

Grand Piano 004 - Sviatoslav Richter in Recital

Richter at his greatest, including Schumann and Beethoven performances which seem to go beyond the limits of possibility. Also an example of Richter's Chopin--not the composer he was best known for, but outstanding playing.

  • Schumann: Toccata op7 (Moscow - April 1958)

  • Chopin: Andante Spianato + Grand Polonaise - Op. 22 (London 1961, Kondrashin LSO)

  • Beethoven: Piano Sonata #23 in f minor - Op. 57 "Appassionata" - (Moscow 1960)

For this program I selected three of my favorite Richter recordings that would fit into the available time. The Schumann Toccata, from a Parnassus CD, was the single performance that convinced me to start our "Richter in the 1950s" series, simply amazing playing from every aspect. The Chopin is idiomatic and lovely playing of a real showpiece; Richter didn't have a great reputation as a Chopin player but this shows he could play Chopin most convincingly. Finally, the "Appassionata" is one of the supreme moments in all of recorded pianism. Richter plays with power and concentration on the highest level, and his playing of the finale is simply the greatest I've ever heard. Sometimes this performance seems to go beyond what is humanly possible.

Download Grand Piano Podcast GP 004 here (53 minutes, 49Mb, 128k mp3)

Subscribe to the Grand Piano Podcast here

Monday, September 24, 2007

Grand Piano Podcast 003 - Artur Schnabel

Artur Schnabel was one the of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century. His Beethoven and Schubert, in particular, are highly regarded to this day.

Mozart - Rondo in a minor, k.511 - (1946 recording)
Beethoven - Fur Elise
Schubert - Trout Quintet - D.667 - Artur Schnabel, piano; Pro Arte String Quartet; Claude Hobday, double bass.

Download GP003 here ( 128 kbps mp3 , 49 MB, 53:30 )

Subscribe o the Grand Piano Podcast here

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grand Piano Podcast 002 - Composers at the Piano

Some of the most insightful piano interpretations come from the very composers who wrote the pieces. In this episode we listen to several of the 20th Century's most famous composer playing their own music. Several short interviews with the pianists accompany the music.

Bela Bartok - brief comments on Mikrokosmos
Bela Bartok - Mikrokosmos - Notturno #97
Aaron Copland - excerpt from interview, 1981
Aaron Copland - Piano Variations
Dmitri Shostakovich - Trio #2 - with David Oistrakh, violin; Milos Sadlo, 'cello.
George Gershwin - comments on the variations of "I Got Rhythm"
George Gershwin - Variations on "I Got Rhythm" - Radio boadcast April 30, 1934. Louis Kaplan, conductor.

Download The Grand Piano Podcast 002 - Composers at the Piano - 49Mb - 53 minutes - 128k mp3

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Grand Piano Podcast 001 - History of Piano in Sound

This show originally aired in the Fall of 1998. We explore the origins of the piano and developments through the first couple of centuries.

Lodovico Giustini - Sonata #4 E min. - Mieczysław Horszowski - Bartolomeo Cristofori piano

Joseph Haydn - Trio #39 G Maj. - Huguette Dreyfus (vienese fortepiano), Edward Melkus (violin), Elisabeth Vogt (cello)

Ludwig Beethoven - Op. 126 #6 Bagatelle - Andras Schiff - Beethoven's own Broadwood piano

Frederic Chopin - Andante Spinato & Grande Polonaise - Emanual Ax (Erhard fortepiano), Sir Charles Mackerras cond. the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

This show originally aired over WMHT-FM in Fall of 1998.

128 kB mp3 - 48 mB - 52 minutes

Download The Grand Piano 001 here

Subscribe to the series here

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Grand Piano

The Grand Piano was a series I hosted for 2 1/2 years over WMHT-FM in Schenectady, New York. I was doing part time work for the station, and its program director was the one who came up with the concept for the series. I made use of my own long background as a piano collector and critic, my collection of piano recordings, and my broadcasting experience to put these programs together. Under the direction of the program director, Robert McBride, who was the program's original producer, and using the great engineering and editing expertise of Rob Brown, I was able to produce a series that I am still proud of.

After the series ended, it was rebroadcast in its entirety over KBPS in Portland, Oregon, where Robert McBride had gone (and where he is still on the air; check them out at ). Since then it hasn't been heard anywhere. We thought Parnassus's customers and friends might enjoy hearing these programs.

We were hoping to put the series up along with complete playlists of the recordings used. These will follow, but we couldn't get them ready in time for a September launch and we had to get started without them. These playlists will be posted on the website, where we will be introducing a new program each week until the series has been completed. They will remain available indefinitely.

Leslie Gerber
Parnassus Records

Wednesday, August 22, 2007