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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Sonata "Póstuma"

Yuja Wang and Kavakos Leonidas at Carnegie Hall in 2014.

From All Music:

Ravel's so-called "posthumous" sonata, rather than having been penned from beyond the grave, is of course an early work not published until 1975, long after the composer's death. Not to be confused with Ravel's much better known G major sonata from 30 years later, which melds blues with neo-Classicism, this compact, one-movement sonata in A minor from 1897 adheres to the classic exposition-development-recapitulation-coda sequence. It shows the strong influence of Fauré and Franck, yet also uses a harmonic and melodic language Ravel would later make his own in his Piano Trio and String Quartet. The first theme, heard without introduction, is sinuous and dreamy; the second theme, brought in after a short piano solo, is smoother, broader, and at times vaguely Oriental, while still almost passing for Fauré. The coda, after a condensed recapitulation, is particularly chromatic, as if it were plucked from Franck's more famous violin sonata.

Sonatra

From Bandcamp:

In his original program notes for Sonatra, composer Michael Gordon writes that he conceived of the piece for solo piano as a sideways tribute to Frank Sinatra, but with the sonata form as an equal and opposite force that tugs at the music from within.

“I grew up playing, or mis-playing, the piano,” he notes. “When I started writing Sonatra, I decided that since I would probably only ever write one piano piece in my entire life, I wanted to use all the keys on the piano, and use them often. I constructed long chains or links of major and minor thirds that ceaselessly wind their way up and down the piano. Eventually they start cascading and intersperse with glissandos half the length of the keyboard, sounding to me like the performer has at least four hands.”

Sonatra is slightly more than 15 minutes in length, but when performed in both equal temperament and just intonation, as Bang on a Can All-Stars pianist Vicky Chow has done for her singular recording of the piece, it takes on the aura and personality of a two-part epic.

“It’s by far the most challenging piece of music I’ve worked on,” she says. “When I first looked at the score, I knew immediately that I’ll live with it for the rest of my life. Every few months, I slowly worked up each section, like chipping away at a slab of marble. I had to pace myself, push myself, and be sharp at every twist and turn, or else I’d trip and fall flat on my face.

“Performing it with just intonation adds another hurdle to overcome, because you can easily feel as though the arpeggios spiraling up and down the length of the keyboard are wrong. It adds one more sadistic layer to the traumatic physical experience a pianist or any other musician or athlete puts themselves through when trying to achieve an impossible feat. This is one of those pieces.”

 

released February 23, 2018

Confucius and the Madman

From Tiago Sousa's Bandcamp:

I find the concert to be a central moment in musical practice. I understand it as the only moment of truth regarding music. The entertainment industry imposes upon it normalization, flattening and simulation. It is the fiction and the separation which hold that simulation in place. In it we’re all playing and acting – the artists play off their personalities, all eccentric to a degree, and the audience plays off its voyeur role. This evidence is so strong that it becomes increasingly difficult to find moments of authenticity. Industry fears these moments so much that concerts have ceased to be this moment of truth to have become nothing but hullabaloo. The appreciation of this hullabaloo tends to be either alienating or merely technical. So, when I decided to release Samsara, the image of a lone piano on stage, given to the frailty of fingers that long to spread themselves over the piano keys as much as they long to see life and the world, presented itself to me not only as metaphor but also as reflection. The act of presenting ourselves this naked has become so rare that it can seem radical and new. An unforeseen, unforeseeable and adventurous moment. That is the path I search for with my concerts. They’ve ceased to be performances to have become life. Life that crosses paths with the everyday moments and takes part as much on a stage as it does in a living room.

Yuja

yuja.jpg

From The New Yorker:

The arresting photograph that was chosen out of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of pictures Dukovic took of Yuja at the piano and, later, in the first-floor showroom, posed full figure in front of a piano with its lid up, represents her as no concertgoer has ever seen her. The wild disorder of the hair has never been seen in a concert hall. (Yuja’s hair tends to stay in place throughout the most rousing of her performances.) And the foreshortened, oversized hand is an obvious deviation from the consensus we call reality. Will Yuja cringe when she looks at the photograph? Or will she see it as expressive of her impudent, defiant nature and find in it, almost hear in it, an echo of her incomparable musicality?