Of the special bond between pianists and pianos – director’s cut

Classical music for all

A shortened version of this article has appeared in the Guardian (link)
It has been originally written in Hebrew for the Opus magazine (link)

Today I would like to talk about pianos. Not necessarily from a historic point of view (invented by Bartolomeo Christofori around 1700, attained its present shape and characteristics towards the later part of the 19th century), nor from the technical one Grand piano action(a complex mechanism of levers, rails, pins, wires and springs that transmits the pressing of a key onto the hammer, which is then thrown and hits a string), but rather from the personal one – to discuss the special bond between the pianist and the piano. Without a doubt, violinists have just as personal and special a bond with the violin they play on, and so do trumpeters, clarinetists or guitarists—but as opposed to them (and, indeed, to…

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The last opera of Shostakovich

Classical music for all

(I first wrote this article in Hebrew for alaxon.co.il)

«We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read”, thus the great and fictitious restaurant critic Anton Ego in the movie Ratatouille. Every artist, whether a performer or a creator, is acquainted with the sinking feeling of opening the morning newspaper or a website, skimming through the content (the eyes stop on their own at key words), and then the growing realisation that the show, the book, the movie, the exhibition were slaughtered by the critic. But in our everyday experience, whether the artist was offended or not, the entire thing stays within the inter-personal field: as a dialogue between the critic and the artist (with the readers crowd for audience). But imagine a cardinally different situation – living under a dictatorship, where art is carefully monitored by the regime, and woe to the artist who treads a path…

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When the world comes crashing down – a personal interpretation of Ravel’s La Valse

Classical music for all

It is hard to think of a work by the French composer Maurice Ravel that would surpass his Boléro in fame and renown. The piece, performed for the first time in 1928, became an immediate success, much to the surprise of Ravel, who regarded it with no little Maurice Ravelcondescension, said it consisted wholly of “orchestral tissue without music” and was certain that orchestras would refuse to play it. The Boléro was the last link in a long chain of dance music composed by Ravel, some of it written for the ballet, some of it conceived as purely instrumental music – as stylized dances for the orchestra or for piano. Dances permeate his work, from the Menuet antiquehe composed when he was 20, up to the beautifully melancholic slow waltz which forms the second movement of his Concerto in G, one of his last works. Within this group…

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