In classical circles, a piano quintet is almost always one piano and four instrumentalists (string or wind). The Five Browns are literally a piano quintet -- five Juilliard pianists -- and all family -- two brothers and three sisters! Since being dubbed the "Fab Five" by People Magazine, they have been featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, Today, and The Tonight Show.
We continue working our way through the preliminary rounds of last years contest. This Sunday, the music of Italian Domenico Scarlatti, a man who won a harpsichord "play-off" against G.F. Handel, and was so impressed by Handel's abilities that he always crossed himself when mentioning the composers name.
Scarlatti left Rome and moved to the courts of Spain and Portugal where he taught Queen Barbara to play harpsichord. Our "concert" starts with three of Scarlatti's sonatas.
Groundhog Day recital includes Brahms' Piano Pieces, Opus 118
On Saturday night, Andrea Lam returns to the stage where just four years ago she was awarded the Silver Medal in the San Antonio International Piano Competition. Lam will play Mozart, Brahms, and a new work by the Australian composer Nigel Westlake. "He has done some classical composing, but he has also done some movie scores. I really love his harmonic language, and he really incorporates a lot of rhythm in his music as well."
A wave of great young pianists crashes into the Alamo City every three years to compete in the San Antonio International Piano Competition. Last October 11, aspiring artists arrived and prepared themselves to impress the judges at the usual venue - the Ruth Taylor recital hall. Luckily for all of us it was all recorded by John Coker.
Tuesday, January 22, Joyce Yang will return to San Antonio for a piano recital. She has played with the San Antonio Symphony, collaborated with violinist Augustin Haedlich, but this time will be solo at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church. Her program has music by Beethoven, Chopin, Bartok, and Rachmaninoff.
"The Second Sonata is a great example of that passion on the verge of hysteria. It is unusual Rachmaninoff in many ways - it was edited several times, and can seem schizophrenic!"
In pop music, pieces featuring the "original artists" are usually big sellers. These are the performances we heard first and are used to -- not the cover songs performed by other artists years later. Some pieces are so familiar that we mentally hear the scratches and pops on the 45's that we had at home back in the day.
When I sit back and think upon my youth my thoughts often turn to television; I am an American after all. One program that gripped me in those days was "In Search of…" where Leonard Nimoy would explore various topics; everything from Bigfoot to the mysterious underwater monoliths thought to be the foundations of Atlantis.
Think back to how families used to celebrate the Holidays. For some of us, it was sitting in front of the TV watching a Charlie Brown special, and going back another twenty years, Dad would play disc-jockey, keeping the records spinning on the Hi-Fi. Back another generation, families grouped around the piano with someone, who hopefully spent some time practicing, played Christmas carols for the mini-multitude to sing along.
Franz Schubert, incredibly talented and poor as a church mouse, wanted the chance to make a decent living from his music, and finally, near the end of his life, he got publishers interested. The down side was that his works were to be dictated by what would sell, and Schubert found his outlets wanted simple music that would sell rather than the big Sonata's that he was interested in.
Franz Schubert had great friends, and he needed them. His father wanted him to teach school, but Franz was built to compose music, and what started as a family hobby turned into an all consuming passion. Giving up his teaching job, Schubert turned to his friends, and with their help he was allowed, slowly and painfully, to become the artist he knew himself to be.