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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Art of the Piano

by David Dubal, into its third Edition. What can I say? I have a much mangled 2nd edition of this work, and it has been a trusty friend over the years. I've just had a chance to spend the afternoon with this update, and I can't say there's been a massive reworking. It's more like a version 2.1, a ten year refinement, adding a couple of the star pianists that have emerged, keeping it current. Speaking of stars, Lang Lang doesn't get much of a report card, Mr Dubal is rather downbeat on the guy, and especially ripping into the "uninformed" audiences that fill Lang Lang's shows.

Still the work is absolutely comprehensive - the first half covers the pianists, all those worthy of a mention going back to finger-running Mozart of the 1760's, through the lush Romantic era of the Thalbergs and the Tausigs, and through the Golden Age of Rack, down to the Modern boring, era of today. These biographical entries are alphabetically ordered, and this is a reference work.

Second half is the Composers section, and is structured the same way as the front half. The piano works are given individually treatment, so for example, under Bach, you get short descriptions of each of the 6 English Suites, and one improvement in this edition is the Well-Tempered gets a through breakdown, each Prelude and Fugue scoring at least a paragraph.

The writing is easy and spritely, not a treatise, but a basket of endless treats.

The Violinist

One of the great under-rated pleasures in life is peripatetic learning. That is, even before the Web, just walking around, unstructured learning, driven by whim and puffs of wind, doing as you please. Like being dropped in alone in a totally foreign city, resorting to pointing and flashes of cash to get you by. Certainly as the World becomes more and more bound, the allure of travel will become less and less of a siren call.

Fortunately, the Realm of the Intellect, and its Fairy Sister, Imagination, know no limits, and so books and stories are a Permanent Pleasure. The Joy of Discovery, just like this website - The Violinist. I can't believe I haven't seen this before. The quality posts of this Professional Violinist go back three years, and cover the very human aspects of performing, teaching, and the Suzuki Method. Just jump into the archives at any month - well done Laurie!

Leap into the Violinist.com here.

Mad Monk

Well, the Mad Monk of "A Monk's Musical Musings" has a rather soul wrenching story of his battle with counterpoint and the quest for perfect proportions. Women aside, he seems to have discovered the "Perfect Fugue", something which I had thought Bach had written - the C Minor from the Well-Tempered, and analyses his work with great joy.

Yet the quest for Ultimate Beauty ends up removing more and more Imperfect Parts, until one is left with - well, a Single Perfect Note. Not satisfactory indeed!

You can read about the Mad Monk by clicking here.