Viktor Hartmann’s sketch of unhatched canary chicks for a ballet called Trilby or The Demon of the Heath made its way, in musical form, into Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). While written originally for piano, I suspect many of us were introduced to the work through Ravel’s orchestration. From that perspective, listening to the original piano version offers several orders of revelation. Continue reading
John Ashbery turned 90 on July 28, 2017. However belated, it’s an occasion to celebrate. Just Walking Around on the internet, I ran across this quotation:
I don’t quite understand about understanding poetry. I experience poems with pleasure: whether I understand them or not I’m not quite sure. I don’t want to read something I already know or which is going to slide down easily: there has to be some crunch, a certain amount of resilience.—John Ashbery Continue reading
This is really music that deserves always to be played and always to be heard. His music touches . . . absolutely all the aspects of our life and our character.
—pianist Denis Kozhukhin
I was introduced to Sergei Prokofiev’s music in college.* An acquaintance who played violin claimed there was no higher instrument—certainly the piano could not come close—and was about to demonstrate why. He stood poised over the phonograph, a recording of Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos in hand. He looked almost shame-faced (not his usual style), so I wondered what was up. “I know Prokofiev is considered a lightweight,” he said, “but I like him anyway.” Continue reading