Saturday, 14 July 2012

Flash, Bang Wallop! The Most Surprising Proposal and Wedding

Gosh! What about this for the most fantastic proposal I certainly have ever seen, and probably you too.

The action, and reason for the girl throwing the water over the guy will become apparent in due course but just get a load of the action in this video.  I wonder how many bucks that lot cost. Of course the flash mob element really appeals to me - so funny and absolutely fantastic . . . . . . BUT . . . . . some would argue they left someone out. Obviously there will be others who disagree.

But back to flash mob dancing.  At first I thought the guy was fabulously wealthy and had spent mega-bucks on this surprise.  However, it is not the case at all - the whole thing was arranged by a flash mob outfit.  I have found a full video which shows the entire concept from start to finish, ending of course with a re-run of the first video.  This time, though, it includes rigth at the start more of the sequence of the long black haired lady with green eyes (I think) throwing a cup of water over the guy and shouting, "Screw you!"  - all part of the act, of course, since she was pretending to be a former girlfriend to wind up his current lady friend.  This bewildered girl, although initially upset, was later literally swept off her feet by 1017 flash mob dancers and of course her selfless boyfriend, as she describes him..  At first he looked manipulative and controlling - but apparently not so.  One thing is sure - she will never forget that day.

It's a bit lengthy but well worth the viewing.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Mendelssohn Octet in E Flat Major, Op. 20

Now here is one of my absolute favourite pieces of music.  It has particular significance in my life and I played it many times whilst commuting back and forth to the North of England about 25 years ago.  I intend writing a post about this on my other blog at some stage.

This music is quite extraordinary because it was written by a 16 year old genius - non other than Felix Mendelssohn himself.

I have found a good quality performance of the first movement. The work is in four movements. The third is by far the most well known but I like this first movement which I think is wonderful. Enjoy with cheese and crackers.

Since posting a dear friend of mine has found an amazing rendition of the first movement with a double bass adding even more beauty to this masterpiece. Also the performers deal with pizzicato passages superbly. So I am adding this version for those interested (in two parts).

To me the music itself conveys alternating moods of joy and sadness. It seems that way and about three quarters through sheer desperation gains prominence until just before the end when the tempo picks up again the mood changes for the last time to a feeling of hope and joy. Well that's how it affects me. Hope you like it.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Two Funeral Sketches Not To Be Missed

Now we all agree that funerals should be sad and sombre events. We have all attended them and we have all shed tears. Yet somehow, when out of context, I detect some funerals can be vehicles for amusement - that is when things go wrong or when something occurs completely out of the ordinary.

This Dick Emery sketch caught my eye recently and I could not help but laugh! Hmm! sorry!!

And, of course, my mind is cast back to the famous Dave Allen funeral sketch, which I posted over a year ago. I am repeating this so those who missed it have another chance to share the fun.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Rather Strange Rendition Of Grieg's Piano Concerto

Hi folks! I am supposed to be on Blog Break but I could not resist posting this hilarious video of Morecombe and Wise teasing a world class conductor and pianist - non other than Andre Previn. He takes the joke well and I think he gives as good as he gets.

Hope you likes it as much as I did. I remember watching this live in the 1970s.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Moonlight Sonata and a Surprise

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata No 14 in C-sharp minor has always been a favourite of mine, although the key signature is rather tricky.  I used to play the slow first movement reasonably well on a good day, although by no means well enough to play before an audience other than next door's cat.  However it is the final 3rd movement which really 'grabbed' me, and still does, and I must confess when no-one was around I did have a go at it now and then, but usually ended up getting totally frustrated with my poor technique and disobedient fingers hitting the wrong keys.

I have a video You Tube of Wilhelm Kempff playing.  Sadly he passed away in 1991 to join many other great departed pianists.  I remember seeing Rubinstein playing this wonderfully at a concert in Bristol when Mrs Bluelights and I were in our 20s. not long ago LOL.

Hope you enjoyed that and now a surprise. Imagine this piece played on electric guitar!! Well no need to imagine it because we can hear it. I just wonder what Beethoven would have made of it and whether he would have welcomed having a pair of digital hearing aids so he could hear this. Do you think he would have accepted them or handed them back in disgust?

Personally I think the technique of Dr.Viossy playing is brilliant although it is a pity some of his intricate playing is drowned by the synthesisers, and perhaps he plays it a little too quickly.

Now what do you make of that?

Oh! and there is another fantastic guitar performance but this time a rendition of Mozart's Turkish Rondo played . . . . . . wait for it . . . . by two men on one guitar. See HERE

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Chopin . . . . Wonderful Chopin

After my previous two posts you may be asking yourselves:

Does this fella, Eddie hear Offenbach or Bach often? LOL

Sorry, could not resist that one! Yes I hear Bach often but this week I have a change for us in the form of wonderful, wonderful Chopin and one of my all time favourite compositions which I have been meaning to post about for some time. Chopin's prodigiously difficult Sonata No 3 in B Minor.

I have the music and have tried in vain to play it - even at very slow speed. Utterly impossible!!! Mrs Bluelights has on several occasions protested that I am playing all the wrong note to which I reply, "No my dear they are all the right notes . . . . . but in the wrong order!" LOL.

Enough of the fun . . . let's hear the fantastic final movement, played by a chap who sadly died very young in 1950 from Hodgkin's Disease aged just 33. His name, Dinu Lipatti, born in Romania. He was a fantastic pianist and this recording was made in 1947.

I could have chosen several more modern pianists for comparison, including Emile Gillels, Katsaris, and other greats but instead I was attracted to this enthusiastic performance by a young lady called Colleen Lee, who is acclaimed as one of the leading piano talents of her generation.

Now I just cannot resist posting yet another rendition which 'knocked me down' . . . . . . and . . . . . wait for it . . . . . . I am going back in time to 1923 for a recording complete with warts and all plus tape hiss . . . . but who cares? What a fantastic technique and we can hear every note, not drowned by the loud pedal as in some later and contemporary recordings. Her name was Lucy Hickenlooper.

For those wanting to know more about her here is what I found:

Her name was Lucy Hickenlooper, and she was born in San Antonio, Texas, August 8, 1880. Later, not surprisingly, her manager Henry Wolfsohn thought that a name change was a necessary career move. She chose the professional name of Olga Samaroff from a remote Russian relative.
At the age of 12, she was taken by her grandmother to Europe where she remained until she was 21. Her talents were so impressive that she was given a scholarship in the piano class at the Paris Conservatoire thus becoming the first American woman to be granted that honor. There she studied with among others, Elie Delaborde (the illegitimate son of Charles-Valentin Alkan). Samaroff writes that when she was first introduced to Delaborde, he gruffly ordered her to play. While she played he restlessly beat time with his foot ..muttering to himself a sort of running commentary on Americans and their lack of musical talent. It was the first injustice that I had encountered in life. When Delaborde noticed that her name (Hickenlooper) had a Germanic origin, he suddenly found that her playing had vastly improved. After completing her studies at the Paris Conservatoire, she made a highly successful debut in Paris. Samaroff then married a Russian engineer, Boris Loutzky, and went to Berlin (1898) where she studied with Ernest Hutcheson, Otis B Boise and Ernest Jedliczka (pupil of Anton Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky). During her Berlin years, she met Richard Strauss, Felix Weingartner, Artur Nikisch, and Gustav Mahler among others. Later she performed the Grieg Piano Concerto several times under Mahlers direction in the United States. Her brief marriage to Loutzky was annulled.
Samaroffs American debut took place on January 8, 1905 at Carnegie Hall with the New York Symphony Orchestra. Her debut was a complete success.
About 1908, she met an obscure English organist and choir master who was a recent arrival in New York His name was Leopold Stokowski. Evidently, Samaroffs families (Hickenlooper-Grunewald) were also prominent members of the City of Cincinnati as they were able to secure for the unknown Stokowski the position of conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. (1909- 1912). Thus began the career of a legendary conductor. Samaroff and Stokowski were married in 1911. Their marriage ended in divorce twelve years later.
About 1920, Samaroff performed nearly all of Beethovens keyboard works in several cities. The concertos were, of course, conducted by her husband who by that time was conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. This project included all 32 of the piano sonatas. (There have been rumors for years that it was Stokowski who pushed Samaroff into giving these recitals. Whatever the truth is, they were enormously significant both musically and historically). Unfortunately, except for Samaroffs recording of the Beethoven-Rubinstein Ruins of Athens Turkish March there are no other compositions of Beethovens music in her discography. (She was asked by RCA Victor to record the Moonlight Sonata. There were four takes. She did not approve any of them).

In 1926, Samaroff suffered an injury to her left arm. She subsequently devoted herself to teaching at Julliard and the Philadelphia Conservatory. She held both positions until her death after a brief illness. She died in her New York apartment on May 17, 1948.

Among her many students were, William Kapell, Claudette Sorel, Rosalyn Turek, Eugene List, Sigi Weissenberg, Raymond Lewenthal, Augustin Anievas and Bruce Hungerford.
Her pupil Claudette Sorell writes, Life with Madam was a continuous series of surprises, adventures and brainstorms. Nobody but Madam would call at 7 a.m. or 12.30 p.m. as she suddenly had decided a certain pupil should demonstrate the Romantic Period at her famous Laymans Music Courses at Town Hall, the following day. She would say, I do not care if you have to stay up all night long, but get it ready. And, invariably, the piece was prepared and the pupil was ready to collapse after the performance.

How about that!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Jacques Loussier plays J. S. Bach: Sicilienne in G Minor

Anyone remember the Jacques Loussier trio?

Going back a little to the '60's and '70's he was very popular. The trio was formed in 1959 and disbanded in 1978. Personally I did not like every number they recorded, but this one really 'grabbed' me, an adaptation of J S Bach's beautiful Sicilienne, originally played on the flute.

Hope you enjoyed it.

I have found another version by Juliette Hurel on the wooden flute illustrating J S Bach's original version but perhaps it is played a little too quickly for my taste.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Bach Piano Concerto in A Major BWV 1055

J S Bach has always been one of my absolute favourite composers. I love all his piano concertos, all his violin concertos, all his keyboard works, all his choral works, in fact all his work. His style is always lively, melodic and uplifting. In most cases the music reminds me of a ball bouncing along in time to the beat. I am sure when he died he did not start decomposing - in fact I truly believe he is up there right now, with the other greats, still composing new masterpieces for all to enjoy. What a treat we shall have when we get there, and I really wonder exactly what they have in store for us.

Some eminent musicians say Bach was the greatest jazz musician of all time, which I find amusing and I can see some truth in it.

I came across this YouTube gem of David Fray conducting and playing the first movement of Bach's piano concerto in A major. They are rehearsing for the launch of him recording the audio CDs of  four concertos for Virgin Records. Bach actually wrote six keyboard concertos so I hope the remaining two will be recorded in due course.

Notice this brilliant Frenchman's technique,  his dexterity and delightful phrasing plus his rather cheeky interpretation, which may annoy some 'stuffy' purists who should really know better because if they are that inflexible they should not be listening to a piano version anyway because J S Bach wrote all his keyboard pieces for the harpsichord.  Back to Mr Fray.  Did you notice the way he almost rides the piano, how low he holds his head and the way he plays with such enthusiasm. Did you see him turn the music page when really he never needs to look at any of it throughout the entire movement. He plays the piece with perfect ease and looks as though he has plenty left in the tank for whatever further technical demands which may be made of him, no matter what. This piece is taken from a rehearsal and for those interested there follows a longer version which includes him asking the orchestra to play according to his wishes, which sometimes elicits a few turned up noses - it makes a fascinating study. This guy is a true craftsman and I am currently considering buying him playing all four Bach Piano Concerto on the one CD - a bargain from Amazon.

Well time for cheese and biscuits again with some vino and sit back and enjoy.

And after all this, I have just found a glowing review of Mr Fray's rendition of his recordings.  I am so pleased that someone who knows what they are talking about likes them as much as me.  If you have time after commenting here, please have a look:

Oh and no doubt Mrs Bluelights would probably say he should get his hair cut and how on earth can he play without getting in his eyes every few seconds LOL.


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