This Sunday, May 21, will see the first Berlin Medtner Concert Day take place at Logenhaus Wilmersdorf, serving as the inaugural concert of the freshly founded International Medtner Society. In two recitals starting at 11am and 6pm, six devoted musicians will introduce themselves with piano sonatas, skazki, and Goethe songs. Looking forward to the performances of Anna Warnecke, Luisa Splett, Irina Chistiakova, Darya Dadykina, Vasily Gvozdetsky, and Evgeny Nikiforov—and also to adding some introductory words and remarks based on my latest research. The concerts are nearly fully booked, so hurry up to snatch one of the last tickets. For details see the Facebook event page.
German classical music journalism has approached a state of mud-wrestling these days. Alban Gerhardt is attacked by Christine Lemke-Matwey for his political engagement, Laura Wikert‘s criticism of David Garrett earns her a mini shitstorm from his groupies, Norbert Schläbitz condemns traditional musicology, Hartmut Welscher and Tobias Ruderer settle up with Deutsche Grammophon‘s marketing policy, Igor Levit defends his unjustly harassed colleagues in an angry rant, and Alphonse Sauer seriously speaks of »journalist fascism«. Feuilletonistic trifle at its best! I feel very well entertained.
This Saturday I will be giving a talk on Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata-Skazka, Op. 25 No. 1, in the framework of the MAEK symposium at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. The programme features presentations by PhD students from Austria, Romania, and the US. I’d be delighted to have your physical support and inquiring remarks on narrativity, cyclicity, and hybrid form in Medtner! Meet me on April 29, 3:30 pm @ Neuer Konzertsaal, Rennweg 8, 1030 Vienna.
If I weren’t travelling to Vienna, I’d most certainly be in Moscow over the weekend. Students of the Royal College of Music London will present Medtner’s complete piano sonatas on two consecutive evenings. If you have the chance, come to Moscow Conservatory‘s Rachmaninov Hall on April 29–30, 7pm, and listen to the performances of Dinara Klinton, Emily Hooker, Varvara Tarasova, Natsumi Ikenaga, Su Ton Chen, Poom Prommachart, Mario Ahijado, Adam Taylor, and professor Dina Parakhina.
Fancy a musical performance in an extraordinary location? My composition Telemanniana will be premiered in the context of Theater Magdeburg‘s youth project »Telemann bewegt«, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. Join us in one of Telemann’s favourite places in his native city—come to the Gruson-Gewächshäuser this Friday, April 21, and listen to the chorus of Hegel-Gymnasium Magdeburg and awesome baritone Thomas Florio, conducted by Astrid Schubert. Performances start at 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm, surrounded by exotic plants and flowers. More details here.
This is why I am not really interested in performers of classical music. My impression is that many artists, particularly those featured by the major labels, abuse their personality to mask the music. I cringe whenever I see a concert ad or CD cover with a performer’s name printed in capital letters bigger than the composer’s—this makes me stay away from the concert or leave the store. Their faces may be pretty and their attitude seductive, but unfortunately I am attracted by the music itself rather than by the people performing it. And what they perform is largely uninteresting—no surprises, hardly anything beyond the established canon. So all of you big shots and top sellers: Please spare me your hundreds of Moony Sonatas, Teardrop Preludes, and La Campannoyas just serving your self-portrayal. Keep your artistic profile neurosis for yourself. For being commercially controlled puppets of the music industry, you have my pity, not my sympathy. You don’t illuminate the music, you are basking in its light. Go on selling your shallow high-gloss products, but don’t expect me to watch or listen.
Frédéric Chopin wrote 57 mazurkas, covering 20 of the 24 major and minor keys. I’m currently doing analytical annotations of the whole corpus in context of a musicological research project at TU Dresden, adding Roman numerals to every single chord in order to make the music accessible to computational modeling. Moreover, my bulky thesis chapter on Nikolai Medtner’s G minor Sonata, Op. 22, is approaching its final shape, incorporating Schenkerian and metrotechtonic perspectives. What a stunning masterpiece of musical architecture!
Dear fellow musicians and performers, please do me a favour. Do not write music-related texts or documents on your own unless you really, really know how to do this! In any other case, have somebody write these for you (or at least show your writings to somebody) who is specialised in this field. You may be wonderful as performers, but I recently made so many encounters with poorly written, awkward, or even embarrassing texts authored by musicians that I cannot suppress this plea. So if you need professional assistance with your CV, concert announcement, work introduction, liner notes, or texts for your website: Please do let me know! I’ll be more than happy to help you.
The repertoire for guitar and marimba duo is not what you would call a cornucopia (no horns involved, naturally). However, I made a contribution. Guitarists and percussionists are invited to have a look at my composition At the Forest Verge which is now finished and typeset, consisting of four short pieces inspired by my favourite trees and their specifically-shaped leaves. You can download the sheet music here on my IMSLP page.
Dear folks, I’ll have the considerable pleasure to perform two of my own compositions in a faculty concert next Friday, 10 February, 7:30 pm, at Joseph Joachim hall, Berlin University of the Arts. As the opener to a versatile programme including viola d’amore, jazz vocals, and improvisations on Schubert, my piano cycle Children’s Kaleidoscope will experience its first complete performance, along with the sombre November Lament (yes, still not matching the month of presentation). Admission is free—it’d be so much of a delight if you joined the audience!
Cordial invitation to a noteworthy concert at the Berlin University of the Arts, Joseph Joachim hall, on Saturday, 28 January, 7 pm: We’ll take the term Recital seriously and confront a German Lieder programme with recitations of the corresponding poems. Students from the voice classes of professors Julie Kaufmann and Elisabeth Werres will be performing a colourful variety of songs, including two of my own compositions, while my colleague Alwin Müller-Arnke declaims Goethe, Heine, Rilke, and George, accompanied by some lofty introductions from my lips. Admission is free—do pay us a visit!
There were a number of live and studio recordings, mostly from my school and university years, that used to linger on my hard disks. In addition to my composer profile and that of my choir, I have now launched a separate SoundCloud page dedicated to performances of other people’s piano music. Here you will find some pieces by Bach, Schumann, Franck, Scriabin, and Gershwin. I’d be so delighted if thou wouldst kindly lend me thine ears!
Update: I uploaded additional recordings dating from 2005–2009, including piano music, duo chamber music, and some romantic lieder and musical songs. Particularly recommendable are the compositions by Enrique Granados, Leoš Janáček, Alban Berg, Francis Poulenc, Viktor Ullmann, and Dmitry Shostakovich, but you’ll also find pieces from the standard canon of keyboard music such as Bach’s, Chopin’s, and Brahms’s. Have a look at my SoundCloud performer profile!
My satirical retrospect on the music year of 2016 has been published at German blog Musik – mit allem und viel scharf. The four episodes deal with aspects of musical performance, composition, and academic life, drawing on a handful of recent Facebook posts—you will probably recognize some of them. Postfactual alert in advance: Please be aware of your sense of absurd irony and subtle mockery being put to the test 😉
The denomination of key signatures of musical works does not always reflect the actual reality. For example, Beethoven‘s Kreutzer Sonata, Op. 47, is referred to as an A major work due to the tonality of the introduction and the finale, whereas the sonata-allegro part of the 1st movement is in A minor. A slightly different case is Schumann‘s String Quartet, Op. 41 No. 1, where the introduction also determines the alleged tonality of A minor, regardless of the fact that the first sonata-allegro is in F major. Even more curious is the key of Schubert‘s Impromptu, Op. 90 No. 4, notated and generally given as A flat major, even if the music clearly begins in A flat minor.
Isn’t it a bit awkward to only look at a piece’s beginning when identifying its overall key? To me it seems reasonable to consider the main section of a movement more relevant than an introduction, as long as the latter only switches between major and minor modes—such as Mendelssohn‘s Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14 (correctly termed an E minor work, even if its introduction is in E major), or Dvořák‘s Eighth Symphony, Op. 88 (a G major work with a 1st-movement introduction in G minor). According to that principle, we should speak of the Kreutzer Sonata as an A minor composition. On the contrary, the abovementioned Schumann remains an A minor work, as indicated by three of its four movements, and despite the 1st movement moving to the submediant. What do you think?
Tonight is my first appearance as a music communicator in Hamburg. Pretty excited to present an introduction to an orchestral concert in the Laeiszhalle, featuring the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and violinist Christian Tetzlaff as a soloist. If you feel in the mood for Mozart, Beethoven, and Schoenberg’s »Transfigured Night«, it’d be just awesome to have your company! Introduction 7 pm at the Recital Hall, concert 8 pm.
Now that the eleventh month has come, here is a suitable background music from my manufacture. Make yourself comfy, brew a cup of tea, and enjoy my piano piece November Lament. May all of you get through this gloomy, cold, and rainy season well!