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Listening: Cecile Chaminade

Photo of Cecile Chaminade
This morning MPR introduced me to the work of a composer I had never heard of – Cecile Chaminade. She was a French pianist and wrote most of her work in the late 1800s.

I downloaded an album of her piano works this morning and found them absolutely delightful! Highly recommended if you like solo piano music.

I hear romanticism, lyricism, a certain French color, and yet a rhythmic and structural component that is unique – a flowing and free aesthetic.

What do you hear?

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Listening: Beethoven piano sonatas

Lately I’ve been listening to the Beethoven piano sonatas. While many of them (the early ones especially) are perfectly pleasant, there are several that are truly transcendent and are powerful these many generations later.

Why is that?  Why do some pieces resonate over time while others are merely nice to listen to? Perhaps these transcendent pieces need to evoke one of:

  • Drama
  • Beauty
  • Fun

Beethoven’s pieces nearly always work between beauty and drama, with an extra side of drama.

Here is Pollini playing the finale of the Appasionata (#23 in F minor).

What do you think? What makes transcendent music?

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Listening: Mahna, Mahna

Every once in a while, you need to distract your toddler long enough for a diaper change or to get some food in him.  I use YouTube on occasion and this song is one of my son’s favorites.

Besides being ridiculously catchy, it also is a nice introduction to jazz improvisation.  It strikes a little close to home because it depicts how I feel often when I’m improving live.

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Listening: La Boheme

I’m currently on an opera junket and finding Puccini arias to be sublime. Opera can be daunting to many, and to those I say Puccini is a great starting point. Melodic and compelling, his operas have a dramatic arc that is more familiar and less bizarre to modern audiences than much of the opera canon.

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