Monday, March 27, 2017

The art of understanding the ordinary


Understanding the ordinary:
Enlightenment
Not understanding the ordinary:
Blindness creates evil.

Understanding the ordinary:
Mind opens.

Mind opening leads to compassion,
Compassion to nobility,
Nobility to heavenliness,
Heavenliness to TAO
There is definitely nothing ordinary about the keyboard music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, which forms an important but too often overlooked bridge between the high baroque of his father's circle and the emerging classicism of Haydn and Mozart. And there is nothing ordinary in the playing of the Croatian pianist Ana-Marija Markovina whose discerning interpretations on a 'modern' Bösendorfer are faithfully captured in Hänssler Classics' 26 CD anthology of C.P.E. Bach's complete works for solo piano. But in an age when the classical promotion machine practises its own nuanced version of 'if it bleeds it leads', I suspect that this admirably bleed-free release will be misguidedly judged ordinary. The TAO tells us* that understanding the ordinary opens the mind. And listening to Ana-Marija Markovina playing C.P.E. Bach also opens the mind.

* Quotation is from Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo's purist translation of Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching. No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

6 comments:

Philip Amos said...

The set is available at just under $100 here in Canada. I bought it and I cannot praise it highly enough. To my surprise in these days, the four reviews I've seen were all full of the highest praise. I just hope people take note. (A fifth review did say that the works would sound better on the harpsichord, but we may dispose of that by just noting that C.P.E. composed with the clavichord in mind. End of that debate.)

Johannes R. Becher said...

I won't post the exact link so that it doesn't looks like I'm trying to promote anything, but you can find this set by 40€ in jpc.de, cpo's excellent web store.

Regards.

Pliable said...

Thanks Johannes. I have to confess to buying this set online from Germany for significantly less than the UK retail price. Philip Amos has also pointed out the lower prices in Canada, and I have bought CDs from there by post.

I have lamented the demise of the independent record store here many times, and my favourite store Prelude Records closes its doors for the last time this week. But I am guilty of hastening that demise by buying online, simply because the price differentials are too significant to ignore.

The whole pricing and distribution structure of classical music is a mess. In the short term those of us who are not flowed review copies benefit from these pricing anomalies between territories. But long term it will undermine the recorded classical music industry, and that is to nobody's benefit.

Graeme said...

Is there a forthcoming post about the Steinway monopoly? A few weeks ago, I attended a Wigmore Hall recital by P-L Aimard on a restored Bechstein from the 1890s. The technician/restorer commented that he could feel that the piano had been built for that dynamic,the Bechstein Hall, or that the hall had been built for that piano.

Aimard played Scriabin and Debussy and Julian Anderson. All played Bechstein pianos. The Liszt piece he played sounded glorious. The whole concert sounded wonderful once Aimard stopped forcing the tone, stopped trying to be a Steinway.

So modern composers play Bechstein. Many of the old masters played Bechstein. Occasional virtuosity, such as Angela Hewitt or Demidenko, play Faziolis, and mitsuko Uchida brings her personal Steinway to Wigmore. Willem Brons played Bechstein at the Concertgebouw. There must be a story about Steinway getting the monopoly and it probably links back to 1914-18. Has this ever struck you as an intriguing Subject?

Graeme said...

My point is that a Bosendorfer piano has a magic very different from a big Steinway. Oscar Peterson played Bosendorfer. Very few classical pianists can rival his command of piano sonorities

Graeme said...

I cannot think if I rounded out my thoughts... But the Empfindsamerstil of CPE Bach can still cause wonder but, in a modern hall,the instrument has to be more receptive than a modern Steinway, I think. Many string players use different instruments in different repertoires. Surely pianists should do the same.