Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Piano Hero / More Operaplot

Still a few weeks of school left in a busy Spring, but there's always time for Piano Hero and Operaplot. Both are nice diversions from the occasional tendency to take music and art too seriously. It's been a short Piano Hero season this year, due to some busy classroom commitments, but I'm especially excited about one of the works we're playing tomorrow. To be precise, I'll merely be playing Mozart's famously "Easy" Sonata in C Major, K. 545, but fellow hero Nathan Skinner will be playing one of Grieg's clever 2nd piano accompaniments alongside. What better way for one composer to pay tribute to another than to engage the former's work in such creative fashion?

Probably the best, or at least most well-known, example of such a tribute is Gounod's inspired reimagining of a Bach prelude as accompaniment for his Ave Maria. Grieg's Romanticized Mozart sonatas are much less widely known, but they are really delightful and deserve to be heard. I suppose they're a bit like Schumann's rarely heard piano accompaniments to the Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin, but the Schumann piano parts are remarkably deferential. I think he was really just trying to make these then little-known works (now cornerstones of the violin repertoire) more accessible, whereas Grieg is merrily free-associating along with Mozart. One of my favorite things about Grieg's 2nd piano is how it sometimes lays low, just filling out the texture, but then unexpected ideas and countermelodies will pop out. Finally, in the 3rd movement, which is easily the most raucously transformed, the 2nd piano even takes its own little cadenza. Good times. Here's the first movement: (2nd is here/3rd is here)

We'll also be playing Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture, which will open the school orchestra's Saturday night concert, and the final movement of Mendelssohn's "Reformation" Symphony. A little more information (including another gaudy poster) may be found here.

As for operaplot, the addictive online competition that turned me into a Twitterer last Spring - it's back again this year and runs until Friday. I told myself I should just stay away this year, but...um...I'm back off the wagon. I think I've already posted seven new entries, along with 7-8 old ones from last year. Good thing the limit's 25. More on this in a post yet to come. Stay tuned...

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