Saturday, July 20, 2019

Fly Me To The Moon

This will be a special classical music weekend on "The Tales" as this Saturday, July 20, the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's lunar landing - where Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first human to take a step on the moon.

So, this weekend Tales will have some great music [some not classical music but they are indeed classic songs] that I hope you will enjoy.

One of the great movies celebrating the astronauts and their ventures into space was "The Right Stuff."  For those who saw the movie, I think you will remember the electrifying triumphant music that accompanied the astronauts walk down the walkway at the Space Center.  That exciting music came from one of the greatest Violin Concertos ever composed [in my opinion, the greatest] by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  It came in the first movement of the concerto, and this movement is so exciting, when I saw it performed a couple of years ago by Joshua Bell in Jones Hall in Houston, I saw something I have never seen before in Jones Hall.  At the end of the first movement, there wasn't just an ovation from the audience [which I have seen before after the first movement] but there was a standing ovation for Joshua Bell.  Usually in a concerto or a symphony, the fireworks occur in the final movement.  In the Tchaikovsky concerto, there are fireworks after the first and third movements.

The late 19th early 20th great French composer, Claude Debussy, composed one of the most relaxing, pleasant and beautiful piano pieces in his famous, Claire de Lune [moonlight].  This is the third movement from his Suite Bergamasque and is sometimes played as a stand alone song.

And speaking of moonlight, we cannot forget one of Beethoven's great piano sonatas, #14 in C-Sharp Minor, "The Moonlight", named after the wonderful adagio sostenuto first movement.

So, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the USA's accomplishment of having the first man to walk on the moon, please turn up the volume and enjoy these 3 great classical music pieces, plus a couple of other classic [not classical] songs.

P.I. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Movement 1, Allegro Moderato:

Claude Debussy: "Claire de Lune":

L.V. Beethoven: Piano Sonata #14 in C-Sharp Minor, Movement 1, Adagio Sostenuto

Frank Sinatra: Fly Me To The Moon:

The Marcels: Blue Moon:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Chopin Magic

Repeat post from a couple of years ago - Chopin Magic

Barry Manilow With Piano Magic
'Could it be magic', was the name of the pop song written by composer and singer Barry Manilow.  It was magic, as it's opening is taken directly from my favorite Romantic Era composer, Frederic Chopin. 

Frederic Chopin, the Polish composer and virtuoso pianist, was the quintessential Romantic composer.   There was so much beautiful piano music from Frederic Chopin in his too brief life, that I call him Mr. Piano.  We thank God for the time he did grant us with this wonderful composer of such beautiful romantic music.  

Frederic Chopin [1810 - 1849]
Manilow incorporates Chopin's Prelude #20 in C-minor in my favorite piece by the legendary pop star.  In showing how Manilow uses Chopin's theme, I am in no way denigrating Manilow.  

Barry Manilow was doing the same as classical music composers who 'borrowed' themes from their fellow masters as a sign of compliment and respect for those composers.  

Many of the great composers themselves, liking one of their own themes or musical ideas so much, would often use that same theme in more than one piece they composed. 

So, in the same way as I view classical composers borrowing and not stealing musical ideas, I see Manilow as not stealing from Chopin, but borrowing his theme as a way to honor and show admiration to the great Frederick Chopin in his piece.

Of course, Manilow borrows more than just the theme, he borrows the whole short piece, and I love how he does it.  It is truly magic-Chopin magic, that is!

Chopin: Op.28, No. 20 Prelude in C minor:

Barry Manilow: "Could it be Magic":

As a special bonus to show more piano magic from Mr. Piano please turn up the volume, play in full screen and enjoy the beautiful melodic piano concerto #1 by Chopin with virtuoso pianist Daniil Trifonov brilliantly performing with the great Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Frederick Chopin: Piano Concerto #1 in E-minor:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Bravo Maestro Zubin Mehta - Conductor of The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra For Fifty Years

From this previous post, there is a July 16, 2019 update at the bottom.

This announcement from Haaretz on December 26, 2016: "Legendary Maestro Zubin Mehta Announces Retirement From Israel Philharmonic Orchestra" - "After over three decades at its helm, the Indian-born conductor will leave in October 2019".

From the Zubin Mehta website page:  "This morning, legendary conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro Zubin Mehta, emotionally announced that he will retire as musical director in October 2019.  At his retirement, Mehta will have served as the musical director of the Israel Philharmonic for 50 years.  He first came to the Israel Philharmonic in 1961, as a replacement for legendary conductor Eugene Ormandy. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra appointed Mehta as musical advisor in 1969 and as musical conductor in 1977.  In 1981, it extended his term for life. Maestro Mehta has conducted the Israel Philharmonic in thousands of concerts, recordings, and tours on five continents."

Bravo Zubin Mehta [born April 29, 1936 in Bombay, India]

This from the Zubin Mehta biography page:  "Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 in Bombay [India] and received his first musical education under his father’s Mehli Mehta’s guidance who was a noted concert violinist and the founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra."

"By 1961 he had already conducted the Vienna, Berlin and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras and has recently celebrated 50 years of musical collaboration with all three ensembles."

"Zubin Mehta continues to support the discovery and furtherance of musical talents all over the world. Together with his brother Zarin he is a co-chairman of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Bombay where more than 200 children are educated in Western Classical Music. The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv develops young talent in Israel and is closely related to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as is a new project of teaching young Arab Israelis in the cities of Shwaram and Nazareth with local teachers and members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra."

The Tales wishes Maestro Mehta congratulations for his upcoming retirement in October of 2019, and I wish him and his family all the best blessings

* Thank you @Sky_Max for sending me this message and following You Tube video: "I watched Khatia Buniatishvili play the Tchaikovsky’s piano Concerto [#1 in B flat minor] on the occasion of Zubin Mehta’s 80th Birthday with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. I was speechless. Dumfounded. Amazed. etc.  This performance was the best thing I’ve ever watched and heard.  Khatia’s playing was powerful, soft, exquisite, flawless, and just magnificent.  What a great artist she is."  ...  "Truly amazing!  She was just 29 years old when this concert was given."

Here is that video from Max from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra You Tube site that will contain a surprise birthday celebration for Maestro Mehta on his 80th birthday at the end of the Tchaikovsky Concerto #1 and encore:

On 24th December 2011, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a concert conducted by Zubin Mehta in Tel Aviv.  Here is Maestro Mehta leading the orchestra in Chopin's beautiful piano concerto #1, with virtuoso pianist, Israeli-Russian, Evgeny Kissin as the soloist.

Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto #1 in E minor:

Listen to this wonderful interpretation of the final movement of Beethoven's mesmerizing "Pastoral" 6th Symphony by Zubin Mehta as he leads the Israeli Philharmonic in one of my favorite symphonies.

L.V. Beethoven: Symphony #6 in F Major, "Pastoral", Movement 5, Allegretto:  

Now here is Maestro Zubin Mehta leading the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv in 2004 in Beethoven's pensive Piano Concerto #4 with pianist supreme, Mitsuko Uchida, the soloist. 

note: Mitsuko Uchida also plays an encore - Mozart's piano sonata in C Major, "semplice", Andante movement in the following video.

L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #4 in G Major: 

In this final video tribute to Maestro Mehta, please turn up the volume and enjoy this live recording from 1988 in Tel Aviv at the 40 year celebration of the state of Israel, where Zubin Mehta leads the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Israel's National Anthem, Hatikva, the 'Hope'.

UPDATE: July 16, 2019This from USSA news:  "In a special concert at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv on Sunday night, [July 14, 2019] Mehta conducted a performance of Verdi’s Requiem and received a ten-minute standing ovation from the crowd.  According to Hebrew news site Walla, the musicians wept as Mehta stepped down from the stage.

Though he will remain with the orchestra until October, this was effectively his farewell performance as musical director."

Bravo and best wishes on your retirement, Maestro Zubin Mehta!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Great Openings In Classical Music

For those of you [old enough like me]  who loved the pop, rock and roll, and Motown music back in 60's and 70's, there were songs that just by the first few notes or first phrase everyone knew what the song was and who sang it [without any words having to being sung].  Great songs like the Temptations, "My Girl", or The Rolling Stones, "Can't Get No Satisfaction" or Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" made you smile and come to your feet when you heard the guitars electrifying openings of those songs.

So, it is with classical music.  There are some great beloved pieces that have memorable, and in many cases exciting, openings that all recognize just by the opening few notes or first few measures.  

is exciting music!
In the following video I put some of the pieces with great openings I could remember and I know I probably have forgotten some obvious ones [that you are free to tell me]  :-).  I tried to pick ones with not just memorable openings but also exciting openings.  I did not put them in any specific order. 

Note:  In my last two examples on this video, they are not really the opening of the piece, but the opening of the final movement of those two pieces.

"Tales" examples of great openings in classical music:

Now please turn up the volume and enjoy the entire movement from some of the examples I gave.  I will try to pick some pieces that I have not played on this blog numerous times.  

Carl Orff: "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana:

Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto in A-minor, movement 1, Allegro Molto Moderato:

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2 in C-minor, Movement 1, Moderato:

Richard Wagner: "Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walkure:

P.I. Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1 in B Flat minor, Movement 1, Allegro non troppo - Allegro con spirito: