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“Gaspard de la nuit” performed by Vlado Perlemuter

Gaspard de la nuit: Trois poèmes pour piano d’après Aloysius Bertrand – composed by Maurice Ravel in 1908, premiered in 1909. Vlado Perlemuter is 87 years old in this video.

Gaspard is famous, in part, for how difficult it is. You get a glimpse of that in this video, especially in the third movement, but it’s also a gorgeous piece of music with much more than its virtuosic passages to recommend it. There’s more info about Gaspard, including English translations of the poems on which the piece is based, here.

About Vlado Perlemuter (who met Ravel and performed every one of his piano works), via Wikipedia:

Vladislas (Vlado) Perlemuter was born to a Polish Jewish family, the third of four sons, in Kovno, Russia (now Kaunas in Lithuania). At the age of three, he lost the use of his left eye in an accident.

His family settled in France in 1907. In 1915, only 10 years old, he was accepted by the Paris Conservatoire, studying first with Moritz Moszkowski (1915–17) then with Alfred Cortot. At 15, he graduated from the Conservatoire, where he won the First Prize playing Gabriel Fauré’s Thème et variations before the composer, although Fauré was already deaf by that time. In 1925 he met Maurice Ravel, and in 1927 studied all of Ravel’s solo works for piano with the composer himself for a period of six months. Thereafter, he became one of the leading exponents of Ravel’s music. In 1929 in two public recitals both attended by the composer, Perlemuter played Ravel’s complete piano works, a feat he repeated in 1987 at London’s Wigmore Hall to mark the 50th anniversary of Ravel’s death.

… His art is characterized by shimmering tonal colors and a singing legato combined with an effortless ease of interpretation. Those who heard him live say that his playing was characterized by an enchantingly subtle tone that recordings fail to capture fully. He approached new pieces through the left hand, reading the piece from the bass upwards. He always practiced slowly, focusing on each hand separately.

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Stockhausen Analyzes “Mantra”

stockhausen_banner_mantraIn 1972 and ’73, Karlheinz Stockhausen delivered seven lectures at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and at various schools in England, all of them devoted to his compositions or to “live electronic music and intuitive music.”  His analysis of Mantra, posted below, was filmed by Allied Artists at the Imperial College in London on 19 July 1973.

He explains his work very slowly and deliberately, using several visual and musical aids, including an impressive diagram of the piece’s overall structure. That attention to detail makes the lecture easy to follow, but tedious in places.

It’s a great document for anyone with some patience and an interest in modern composition. It might even help a curious, but stumped novice find a way into the music.

The first two videos comprise the entire lecture. The third video includes a question and answer session given afterward: