Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Gilmore Young Artist - Conrad Tao - Pianist Extraordinaire..

Conrad Tao and George Li are two US based young  pianists who have won the 2012 Gillmore Young Artist Prize. Previous recipients include Jonathan Bliss and Yuja Wang.  Conrad started playing tunes on the piano at 18 months and formally started learning the piano after the violin around age 3. His first piano performance at 4, and by age 8 he was performing his first concerto - Mozart Piano Concerto in A Major K414 with the Utah Symphony. His biography with the record label IMG reveals that he has even composed his own piano concerto and received from Obama, the Presidential Scholar for the Arts in 2011. As of August 2011, Conrad studies under Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky at the Julliard School of Music (pre college level).

Watch his label IMG Artist's Press Video

Conrad performing the Bach Ouverture in the French Style, BWV 831, Movements 5-7 at Julliard in 2010

Conrad performs the Rachmaninov Prelude Opus 23 No.2 in B Flat Major

Conrad Tao performs Carl Vine Piano Sonata, 2nd Movement at Julliard in 2010

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Piano Prodigies Ying-Shan Tseng - Blind 8 year old child prodigy from South Africa

South African Taiwanese girl Ying-Shan Tseng is blind yet this child prodigy performs Tchaikovsky and Mozart piano concertos at the tender  age of 8. I read about Tseng from an article in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper. How does she learn music, you may ask? The sheet music or score is in Braille music format.

About Ying-Shan, she started playing at the age of 4 and has won many young junior piano competitions in South Africa. Her piano teacher - Elise Van Harken (sp?) realised her talent when she learned within one month, songs that normal sighted kids learned in several months. She's an inspiration to her teacher, with her amazing perseverance and dedication

South African news - Tv Show - Carte Blanche. This following clip tells her story.

2009 News Video on Ying - Shan

Her most recent performance on Youtube - in May 2011

A recital showcase age 7, in South Africa - later in the video she performs the theme to the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto.

Monday, 12 September 2011

How to play Rachmaninov's Prelude in G Minor: tutorials, tips, masterclasses Opus 23 No.5

 The Opus 23 preludes were dedicated to Rachmaninov's first cousin,  Alexander Siloti, and musicologist James Frazier notes that they owe much of their style to the second piano concerto (especially in the luscious B section).  Ashkenazy on the preludes: they contain  “an unmistakable Russian intensity, strong lyrical melodies, and changes of character that range from sublime sweetness to passionate virtuosity.”
Thailand based British expatriate pianist Paul Barton adds, that you get all these attributes in one go with the G minor prelude. In Paul's Youtube tutorial he describes the G minor prelude as a Paradox like so much of Rachminov's music - it's about staying in control while letting go at the same time; the immense technical challenge of playing the notes vs. at time soaring, passionate music, seeming desperate to escape from them. Written in 1901,  this prelude is second in  popularity to the C Sharp minor (opus 3) Prelude but Paul is convinced that popularity of the G minor is increasing.  Paul has clearly read Angela Glover's work and quotes from legendary pianist Josef Hoffman - anyone who could write this (prelude) must be noble.  Paul describes the form of this prelude like a Classical Rondo with A-B-Transition-A form and  the character of the 'B' section as ephereal, poignant with a Spanish flavour and feels like an improvisation [Thiollier].

Paul Barton's tutorial and tips of how to practice and play the G Minor Prelude

Excerpt of Paul Barton's tips:
  • First learn the notes. Try to resist playing at full speed to keep the musical ideas and enthusiasm fresh.
  • Avoid any tension in your arms, shoulders and wrists
  • Section A - Play Chords and Change Position [3:00] Play the first chord in any group which is repeated. Play it once so avoid repeating them first of all (rather than 3 times as indicated), in order to make the shape of the chords and to be able to change position, 
  • It's a great piece to work and focus on,  you can work on chords in one section then appegios in another.
  • Middle section or 'B Section' which creates a 'trio effect' - overemphasize in your practice the countermelody (so you can bring this out later) [10:30]
  • There are no pedal markings indicated in the score (so you'll need to balance the clarity of the melody in relation to the staccato chords)
  • In the B section, if you can't reach all the notes as Rachmaninov had extremely large hands, drop a note but retain those notes in the chord that retains the best colour.
Rachmaninov plays the G Minor prelude himself - notice how he gives equal emphasis to the thick chords in Section B (as opposed to bringing out the fifth finger top melody line)

Rachmaninov Plays Rachmaninov--Ampico Recordings (1919-29)

Paul Barton's favourite performance of the G Minor Prelude is by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Prelude in G minor, Op.23, No.5

Further resources

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ipad Piano Pianism - Piano Apps with Lang Lang and Stephen Hough

UK based concert pianist Stephen Hough reviews Piano Apps (Pianist Pro and the Magic Piano) on the Ipad for the Daily Telegraph in 2010. He even mentions to Lang Lang's Flight of the Bumble recording in San Francisco.

Lang Lang tries out Flight of the Bumble Bee on the Ipad

Lang Lang performs Flight of the Bumble Bee on stage with an Ipad in San Francisco. It's amazing that this unofficial recording has had over 1.3 million views! Now that's viral