Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Songs Without Singers #2

Part 2 of the new "songs without singers" series features one of the most piano-centric of all lieder, Richard Strauss's Morgen (greatest wedding present ever?). I've mentioned before how I much prefer the original piano accompaniment to the sickly sweet sound of the solo violin in the composer's orchestration. Here we take the final step and eliminate the voice as well. No vibrato allowed! I'm proud to say, in the spirit of piano blogging, that this was a first take; not perfect, but then neither are the piano, pianist, or microphone perfect.

{Listen here or in the new MMmusic jukebox.}

Incidentally, I really like the idea of informal piano blogging - just as blogging in general encourages a slightly less formal, more improvisatory approach to writing, this can do the same for recording. Many of my favorite moments as a musician are unambitious little performances in the practice room. It would be great to see some of the great artists doing this - just hitting record and posting the results for all to hear. Jeremy Denk did this once to very satisfying effect at the end of his remarkable Bach allemande week.

Also, I make no great claims about making the piano sing, but if anyone doubts what this "percussion instrument" can do, check out a Mr. Rachmaninoff in this recording of The Swan. I mean, I'm a cellist on the side and I used to play this; I've listened to dozens of cellists play it, but I don't think it gets more beautiful than this dusty old keyboard rendition.

Thanks to a YouTube acquaintance for passing this along.

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