Chopin: Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor Pianist – Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

chopin

Frédéric Chopin

In 1963, when I was beginning to explore the world of classical music, there was no internet and, obviously, no YouTube.  CD’s were still twenty years in the future.  Long-playing, vinyl records were our primary means of discovering new music, and there was a wealth of them for us to choose from.  I well remember browsing through my local record store searching for the one record (perhaps two) that insisted on going home with me, and the sense of anticipation with which I placed it on the family turntable for the first time.

I was introduced to Chopin’s second piano sonata in just this way, through Vladimir Horowitz’ 1962 recording for Columbia Records, which also includes works by Schumann, Rachmaninoff, and Liszt.  In the liner notes to that recording, Thomas Frost quotes Horowitz as follows:

“All these pieces have been with me a long time.  The Chopin sonata I played first in ’22 or ’23.  It’s been a good friend throughout my career.  You know the story they tell – Chopin was asked if the finale was a ‘light wind over the grave’ and he said, ‘No, just gossiping between two hands.’  He was a moody man, Chopin.  But I think this idea of a final sigh or a ghostly wind over the grave is a good one.  Perhaps he meant that.”

In the same liner notes, Neville Cardus elaborates on the Chopin sonata as follows:

Schumann’s often-quoted remark about the B-flat Minor Sonata – “Chopin has simply bound together four of his most reckless children” – is taken to task by most modern critics, who feel that the work, despite its unclassical form, is a completely logical entity.  In his work on Chopin, Herbert Weinstock has written, “I have heard the sonata played so that it sounded like four separate pieces; the fault was the pianist’s… But I have heard it played…with the complete, overall, four-movement structural and aesthetic-emotional unity of a Mozart piano concerto or Beethoven piano sonata… Calling the B-flat Minor a sonata was neither caprice nor jest; it is a sonata by Chopin.”  Mr. Weinstock further feels that, “had Chopin written little else, it would entitle him to a position as peer of the greatest artistic creators.”

I was introduced to Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995) in the same way, through his 1957 recording for Angel Records of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4.  Harold Schonberg, in The Great Pianists (1963), has this to say about Michelangeli:

If there is an Italian school, it is represented by the puzzling and redoubtable figure of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, the most important Italian pianist after Busoni (if Busoni be considered Italian).  Purely as a playing machine, Michelangeli is a legend to his colleagues, who put him in the Horowitz class as a super-virtuoso.  Some of his playing is startling in its sheer pianistic polish and perfection.  His fingers can no more hit a wrong note or smudge a passage than a bullet can be veered off course once it has been fired.  In addition he is a complete master of tonal application, as evidenced in his performance of Gaspard de la Nuit.  By any standards this is one of the triumphs of modern pianism…

Fortunately for all of us, Michelangeli’s artistry is well represented on YouTube, in both video and audio-only clips.  The interested reader will find not only his performances of the Ravel and Rachmaninoff concertos that captivated me, and the Gaspard mentioned by Schonberg, but also much by Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Debussy, and many others.

The following video is taken from a 1962 documentary devoted to Michelangeli that includes nearly two hours of Chopin’s music.  The four movements of this sonata, and their start times in the video, are as follows:

I. Grave; Doppio movimento – 0:30
II. Scherzo – 8:42
III. Marche funèbre; Lento – 16:13
IV. Presto – 25:43

Published in: on January 31, 2017 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Compagnie Marie Chouinard Performs Chopin and Stravinsky

MarieChouinard

Last Friday, January 25, I went to a concert at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall that was unlike any I had ever attended: a performance by the Compagnie Marie Chouinard of music by Chopin and Stravinsky that demonstrated, even to a neophyte like me, how thrilling and emotionally satisfying modern dance can be.

The troupe consists of 10 dancers: 6 women and 4 men.  The first piece on the program was 24 Preludes by Chopin, and featured UW doctoral student Brooks Tran on piano.  I was already acquainted with Chopin’s preludes, and with the very first notes, I recognized the powerful dimension that dance added to the music.  As choreographed by Marie Chouinard, every single dance brought to mind words like “creative”, “inventive”, and “imaginative”.  To give just one illustration, at one point a single dancer held center stage while six others lay on their stomachs at the sides of the stage, hidden behind curtains except for their legs and feet, doing a swift flutter-kick.

The highlight of the Chopin was the turbulent “Raindrop” prelude, Op. 28, No. 15.  A single woman stood alone and motionless at the center of the stage, looking forlorn and desolate, reciting the notes of the musical scale in French, while another danced a lengthy, improvised solo in a tight pool of light upstage to her right.  The first woman was repeatedly interrupted and whisked offstage by the rest of the troupe marching determinedly across the stage, only to run back at once and continue her recitation.  The dance ended with both the speaker and the soloist being embraced by other dancers and escorted tenderly offstage.

This was the emotional climax of the entire piece.  In it, as in all the preludes, the choreography attempted no story or narrative, but when it ended, the feeling lingered of something very human.  At the conclusion of not just this, but several of the dances, the patron to my right breathed a hushed “Wow” to herself.  She spoke for many of us.

Throughout the 24 preludes, one’s attention was so focused on the dancers that it was easy to overlook the contribution of the pianist, Brooks Tran.  Mr. Tran played with great flair and understanding, and as the performers were taking their bows at the conclusion of the piece, the audience reserved its most enthusiastic applause for him.

Following the intermission, we were treated to a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, with the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Pasternak.  As was the case in the Chopin preludes, Marie Chouinard made no attempt to follow any narrative in The Rite of Spring.  Rather, Stravinsky’s magnificent score was transformed into a series of set pieces involving one or more dancers in which the drama was in the movement alone.

A production so abstract, so free from story-line, begs the question, does The Rite of Spring suffer from this absence of narrative?  Does it feel like something is missing?  The answer is straightforward: If the story-line of the “Rite” is important to you, then this production may not be to your taste.  My guess is that very few people who love The Rite of Spring could tell you much about the story-line anyway.  The music is what we know and love, and this collaboration featured not only excellent musicianship but superlative dance as well.  The choreography was painstakingly fused to the music, and the musical climaxes were thrillingly rendered.  Ultimately, though this was not The Rite of Spring I was expecting, I would not have traded it for any other.

If you have a chance to see the Compagnie Marie Chouinard, you owe it to yourself to go.  I was fortunate to see them perform to live music, but if you are not so lucky, you should go anyway. Check their webpage http://www.mariechouinard.com/2013-410.html for their schedule.  Put it on your own personal bucket list.  I know I won’t pass up the chance to see them again.

Derrick Robinson

Concert Review: Pianist Valentina Lisitsa Returns to George Fox University

Valentina Lisitsa

The internationally acclaimed Ukrainian-American pianist Valentina Lisitsa returned to George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon on Friday, September 30 to give her second recital at Bauman Auditorium this year.  She opened her program with five pieces by Rachmaninoff: the Etude Tableaux, Op. 39 No. 6 (“Little Red Riding Hood”) and four preludes.  In all of these pieces, Miss Lisitsa demonstrated an astonishing assurance and technical command, together with a gorgeous singing line and exceptional delicacy.  She has an unmistakable affinity for Rachmaninoff, and is the ideal interpreter of his music.

This was followed by Beethoven’s Sonata in F minor, Op. 57, the justly famous “Appassionata”.  One of Beethoven’s best-known sonatas, the Appassionata is a work of sharply contrasting moods.  Full of Sturm und Drang, it also has its light-hearted and noble moments.  Throughout the shifting moods, Valentina put every musical idea into proper perspective, and overlooked nothing.  She succeeded beautifully in unifying the disparate elements of this work into a coherent and compelling whole.

Following the intermission, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, Miss Lisitsa played no fewer than 16 of the Polish master’s works: three waltzes, six etudes, and seven nocturnes.  The “Black Key” etude never sounded more effervescent, while Op. 10 No. 12 sounded more revolutionary than ever.  Her renditions of the “Winter Wind” etude and Op. 25 No. 12 were perhaps the best performances of those two pieces I’ve ever heard.

For me, however, the high point of Miss Lisitsa’s Chopin lay in the seven nocturnes.  The uniqueness of Chopin’s voice is nowhere more striking than in his nocturnes.  From one to the next, as well as within a given nocturne, they are full of changing moods.  Op. 27 No. 1 at one point sounded unmistakably like a polonaise, while Op. 9 No. 2 was distinctly waltz-like.  Miss Lisitsa’s performance of this nocturne so completely captivated the audience that, at its conclusion, no one wanted to break the spell of the music by applauding.  Miss Lisitsa let the final chord fade away into utter silence, but not until she was about to begin the Liszt rhapsody that followed did anyone dare to clap.

The Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 with which Miss Lisitsa concluded her program has been sending audiences home in a state of happy excitement for more than a century and a half, and it didn’t fail in its purpose this night.  Valentina certainly made that piano thunder!  My only hope is that the memory of the Liszt rhapsody didn’t make people forget the Chopin nocturnes.

If you love the piano, and have the chance to hear Valentina Lisitsa, you must not let the opportunity pass you by.  Everything she does has been carefully considered; there are no careless passages.  In everything she plays, she keeps in mind the big picture.  “Her keyboard technique is preposterously complete,” wrote a reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  This is certainly true, but what is more important is that Valentina always searches out how to put her technique at the service of the music she plays.  It is this quality that makes her such an important and unforgettable artist.

Derrick Robinson

Published in: on October 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm  Comments (5)  
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Earl Wild (1915 – 2010)

It was with sadness that I learned today of the death of pianist Earl Wild, who died at the age of 94 on Saturday, January 23 at his home in Palm Springs, California.  Although I have known of Earl Wild for years, and enjoyed his arrangements of several Gershwin songs, it was only recently that I gained an appreciation for the breadth and depth of his achievements.   He was a classical pianist of enviable taste and technique, at home in an astonishing variety of musical styles and eras.  He was a composer as well, famous for his piano transcriptions of songs as different as those of Gershwin and Rachmaninoff.

His career was remarkable as much for its longevity as its diversity.  He was born in Pittsburgh on November 26, 1915, and began giving recitals in 1928 at the age of 12.  To put that into historical perspective, that was just one year after Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in one season, and one year before the onset of the Great Depression!  He gave his final concert at age 92 in February 2008, drawing to a close a career that had spanned 80 years.

It was just three weeks ago that I featured Earl Wild on this blog in a performance of “Danse” by Debussy, a tribute that was by no means intended as a memorial.  Here, from that same recital, is a performance of Chopin’s brilliant Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor.  After such a performance – and such a career – what is left to say but, “Bravo!”

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 8:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Lola Astanova Plays Chopin

lola astanova2Lola Astanova is no stranger to readers of this blog.  In September, we saw her electrifying performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Sonata.  October featured my extended interview with Lola, which touched on her early life in Tashkent, the influence of Vladimir Horowitz, and her views about contemporary classical music composition, among other subjects.

This month, we hear Lola perform three pieces by Frederic Chopin.  Lola is a passionate interpreter of Chopin; her longtime instructor and legendary piano professor Lev Naumov said of her, “Lola Astanova possesses a rare and truly ingenious intuitive ability.  Chopin performed by Lola is simply outstanding…” – an opinion I think you will share after watching these videos.

For our first video, Lola plays Chopin’s famous Nocturne Op. 27, No 2.  Many musicologists rank the two Nocturnes of Opus 27 among Chopin’s greatest compositions, and Robert Schumann referred to them as “the most heartfelt and transfigured creations evolved in music.”

In our interview last month, Lola spoke about the next piece as follows:  “I guess the first piece that I was consciously truly excited about learning was Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu”.  I was about ten years old, but I had heard and loved that piece from the early childhood.  The score looked very busy with lots of notes, so in my mind playing it well somehow symbolized being a good pianist.”

In our final video, Lola gives an impassioned performance of one of Chopin’s most dramatic études (and one of my personal favorites), Op. 25, No. 12.  She also delivers a short message on a subject close to her heart: the need for all of us to continue to support the arts despite a difficult economic climate.

I encourage you to visit http://lolaastanova.com, where you can learn more about Lola and watch additional videos.  You can also purchase her CD, which is entitled “Debut” and features the music of Liszt, Beethoven, and much more by Chopin.

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Two Who Died Too Young – Part II: William Kapell

William Kapell died on October 29, 1953 when the DC-6 on which he was returning from a concert tour of Australia flew into King’s Mountain, just 16 miles south of San Francisco Airport.  On this – the 56th – anniversary of his death, I am pleased to honor his memory and share his artistry with readers of these pages.

kapellWilliam Kapell was born in New York City on September 20, 1922.  He began taking piano lessons at age 7, and his early teachers included Dorothea Anderson La Follette and Olga Samaroff, with whom he studied first in Philadelphia and later at Juilliard.  In 1941, he won both the Philadelphia Orchestra’s youth competition and the prestigious Naumburg Award, and at 20 he embarked on his concert career.

Initially, he was best known for his performances of the crowd-pleasing concertos by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and especially Khachaturian.  As Virgil Thompson wrote after his death, “It was only in the last two years that he had gained real access to the grand repertory of the piano, to the concertos of Mozart and Beethoven and Brahms and Chopin and to the suites of Bach and Debussy, and that he had been genuinely successful with that repertory.”

The deepening of his art in these last few years was recognized,” writes Michael Kimmelman in the New York Review Of Books.  “Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatagorsky became anxious to record with him.  When Jack Pfeiffer, the RCA producer, called him in California one afternoon to ask whether he knew the Brahms D Minor Violin Sonata because Heifetz wanted to record it the next day, Kapell said yes, then stayed up all night to learn it.  [The italics are mine.]  The recording, exultant and showing great feeling, was made in Hollywood in 1950; it explains why Heifetz said he could never forgive Kapell for dying young.”

I have that record, and it is glorious.  But what kind of talent is it that can learn overnight – and to Kapell’s exacting standards – a piece as profound and demanding as Brahms’ third violin sonata?  For a recording with Heifetz, no less!

Harold Schonberg wrote in The Great Pianists, published in 1963, that “Many American pianists of the postwar generation have the potentialities to develop into major artists, but as yet it is a little early to make any predictions.  The most promising of all, William Kapell, died in an airplane crash in 1953.  Kapell had won a Naumburg Competition award, and he went on to impress an international public with a spectacularly honest technique (never any bluff or cover-up), a forthright musical approach and a fierce integrity.  His playing had that indefinable thing known as command, and he was well on his way to being one of the century’s important pianists when his plane from Australia went down shortly before arriving in San Francisco.”

I was introduced to Kapell’s playing in 1964 through an RCA Victor album entitled “The Unforgettable William Kapell”.  This record includes the Khachaturian Piano Concerto, a lovely interpretation of Evocación by Albéniz, the 18th variation from Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and a performance of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz that is sheer wizardry.  In my opinion, this performance comes as close to pianistic perfection as it is possible to do.  Never has the indefinable “command” referred to by Schonberg been more in evidence.  Regarding this performance, Tim Page of the Washington Post writes that it had “all the energy and the manic wildness of Horowitz, but it also [had] a sort of cool intelligence and a formal understanding which… wasn’t always in the Horowitz recordings.”  He goes on to say, “I would very, very quickly name it one of the most extraordinary piano recordings I have ever heard.”

The following clip is the only known video of Kapell.  It is from Alistair Cooke’s TV program “Omnibus”, and includes a sonata by Scarlatti, the Nocturne in E Flat by Chopin, and an arrangement for piano by Emilio Napolitano of an Argentine folk song, “Gato”.

Claudia Cassidy, the famously acerbic critic for the Chicago Tribune, wrote in her tribute to Kapell, “He was, this smoldering, passionate young pianist, generous, lovable, deeply gentle of heart.  I loved his playing above all other playing, and this can scarcely be a secret to anyone who has read this column.  So not for myself, but to tell you what he was like, now that he is gone, here is a part of one of his last letters:

Why do you think playing in Chicago always is some sort of test for me? … Music isn’t enough.  Performers aren’t enough.  There must be someone who loves music as much as life.  For you, and remember this always, those of us with something urgent to say, we give everything.

“Kapell gave, and I am eternally grateful that I was here to listen.”

My Interview with Lola Astanova

“Everything (Horowitz) did had his own individual and unmistakable stamp, which is not only desirable, but is an absolute must for an artist.”

lola astanovaThis interview had its beginnings in an email that I received last month from Lola Astanova, as one of many who registered at her website, lolaastanova.com.  The email introduced a video of Lola playing Chopin’s magnificent étude Op. 25 No. 12, together with a short message from Lola about supporting the arts during difficult economic times.  I was crazy about her Chopin, and shared her conviction about the arts, and wrote back to tell her so.

A few days later I received another email, thanking me for introducing Lola to readers of this blog through her videos of Rachmaninoff’s second sonata, and pointing out that the year of her birth as given in my comments (1981) made her a little older than she really is.  I did a little more research and found a different source that listed her year of birth as 1982, and updated my blog accordingly.  I also wrote back to suggest an interview with Lola that would address this and other questions that I thought would be of interest to her growing number of fans and admirers.  I was happily surprised to receive – just two days later – an invitation to submit my questions via email for Lola to answer in writing.

What follows are my questions and Lola’s responses.  My thanks to Natalie, Lola’s personal assistant, for facilitating this interview, and especially to Lola herself, not only for her candid, illuminating answers, but for sharing so generously of her work and talent through her many YouTube videos.  Lola, you have opened wide the treasure chest of great music for many who might otherwise never have known the riches that lie within.

All right, let’s begin!

DERRICK:  I apologize for having misstated the year of your birth on my blog.  In my desire to make you better known to my readers, I had to choose among unreliable sources for some information.  Would you like to tell us your correct birthday?

LOLA:  I never intended to hide my correct date of birth…I think it was, probably, accidentally left out from my original online bio.  But by now it’s become such a huge deal that I feel like having some fun with it and keeping everyone guessing. (Smiles)

DERRICK:  Would you mind filling in a few more biographical details?  I know that you were born in Tashkent.  Would you like to share any information about your family and early life?  Did your musical education begin at home?

LOLA:  Sure.  My mother is a music teacher.  We had an old upright at home so she used to play it from time to time, and I used to stare at her and think: “It would be so nice to play that thing!”  But it was actually my dad who convinced her to get me started with piano lessons.  He really wanted me to learn “Fur Elise” and a few other tunes to play for him after work.  I’m sure he never imagined that music would become my career.

DERRICK:  Do you remember how you were introduced to classical music, and the first piece of classical music that you were excited about?

LOLA:   I guess the first piece that I was consciously truly excited about learning was Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu”.  I was about ten years old, but I had heard and loved that piece from the early childhood.  The score looked very busy with lots of notes so in my mind playing it well somehow symbolized being a good pianist.

DERRICK:  We know that you began to study piano at the age of six with Professor Tamara Popovich.  When and where was your first solo recital?  Do you remember the details of your program?

LOLA:  My first recital was in my school.  I think I was about seven and played most of the pieces from Schumann’s album for the young Op. 68.

DERRICK:  When and where was your first performance with orchestra?  What piece did you play?

LOLA:  It was Bach’s Concerto No. 5 in F Minor.  I was 8 years old and played in the big and beautiful concert hall called “Bakhor” in Tashkent.   I had seen Ashkenazy play on that stage only a few months earlier so being on that same stage for the first time as a soloist made me very nervous.

DERRICK:  What is your personal situation?  Are you married or single?  If single, do you hope to marry someday, or are you in an exclusive, long-term relationship with your Steinway?

LOLA:   I am not married and don’t see it in my immediate future.  My relationship with my Steinway, albeit a passionate one, is strictly professional. (Smiles)  It would have been more than a little sad otherwise.  I think it’s important to have other interests besides piano, and I, certainly, do.

DERRICK:  Would you care to comment on the passing last month of Alicia de Larrocha?  Did you ever meet her, or hear her play in person?  Have you been influenced at all by Miss de Larrocha?

LOLA:  I never had a chance to hear her in concert, alas.  She was one of the very few women who had a stellar career as a concert pianist and left a wonderful legacy.  That is always inspiring and empowering to me personally.  But, I can’t say that my own pianistic style or musical preferences were influenced by her in any way.

DERRICK:  You have described what an emotional experience it was for you to play on Vladimir Horowitz’ piano.  How would you describe Horowitz’ influence on you?

LOLA:   His influence was colossal.  I think he redefined what it means to be a pianist.  Everything he did had his own individual and unmistakable stamp, which is not only desirable, but is an absolute must for an artist.  I can’t say that I like everything that he did musically, in fact, I find some of his interpretations perfectly awful, but that doesn’t matter.  He always played his Chopin, his Mozart, and his Rachmaninoff.  He had a distinct musical personality and a style like no other, and that is what I find most valuable.

Now, obviously, Horowitz’s presence is still very much felt in the piano world and, as a result, many pianists try to imitate him and critics always itch to dub someone “the new Horowitz”.  I must say that I find both rather amusing.  There may be truly astonishing pianists that share certain qualities or attributes with Horowitz, but there will never be another Horowitz, just like there will never be another Pavarotti.  So there is no point in trying.  Actually, a little anecdote comes to mind: Gershwin once asked Ravel to teach him composition, to which Ravel supposedly responded: “Why would you want to be second rate Ravel when you can be first rate Gershwin?”  I second Ravel’s opinion, and though comparisons to the immortals are flattering, I’d never want to be “the new” anybody but myself.

DERRICK:  Have you ever played any of his transcriptions?

LOLA:  No, not in public.

DERRICK:  Who among the pianists of today do you especially admire?

LOLA:  YouTube’s Nora the Cat!  She has a special touch. (Laughs)  But if you want a serious answer…well, “admire” is a very special word for me.  Talent and skills alone do not impress me at this point as I’ve been fortunate to be among talented and capable musicians all my life.  What does impress me, however, are the people behind the talents – their human qualities, their aspirations and their integrity.  I know those don’t sound like musical terms, but they are no less important in music than in life.  And from that standpoint, so far I’ve seen more disappointments than inspirations in the classical field.  You know, Rachmaninoff almost never gave interviews on this subject because as he put it: “I was brought up never to lie…and I cannot tell the truth.”  I think I understand what he meant and I’m going to leave it at that.

DERRICK:  How would you describe the current state of music composition?  Do you see anyone writing music today whom you would place on the same level as the great composers of the past?  If yes, who?  If not, why not?

LOLA:  I presume you are asking about classical composition and if that’s the case – I am not aware of any composer today that I would compare with the greats of the past.  You see, to me a great composer is synonymous with original harmonic language.  In other words, creating something that sounds good and does not sound like somebody else. And in that sense, every composer today faces two huge challenges:  Number one – a lot has already been done in terms of harmony so it is really not easy to create something that is both valuable and original.  Number two – developing and refining one’s own harmonic language and style is a very slow and painstaking process which seems in total opposition of the super fast pace of the modern life.  And don’t forget that in addition to the tremendous technical skills and knowledge, composition requires a certain creative environment or atmosphere that simply does not exist anymore in the same way as it did in the days of Mozart or Chopin.

Of course, there is an entire group of composers that do the so-called “modern classical music”.  Those are the people who chose to experiment with atonal concepts, but I refuse to call that music.  I imagine that the original creators of that style genuinely searched for something new or “modern” and that a lot of their harsh sounds stemmed from the painful history of the 20th century.  But I also think that many of the subsequent works have simply been an attempt to shock the audience and generate publicity by inviting the press to endless “world premiers” of some god-awful pieces.  In my opinion the empty concert halls are in part the result of the industry’s long infatuation with those atonal concepts.

DERRICK:  How has the internet changed life for the concert artist today?  More specifically, how has YouTube, with its extraordinary library of music and musicians, changed the concert artist’s life today?

LOLA:  I think it’s fair to say that the Internet has changed not only the lives of individual artists, but the entire entertainment and media landscapes.  It’s even a bit overwhelming to think of all the opportunities that the Internet tools have opened for the arts, education, entertainment, and cultural exchange.  You are right, of course, about YouTube being a singular library of material, but there is much more to it than that.  It’s an amazing way to communicate with the audience directly, without intermediaries and outside the sometimes intimidating atmosphere of a concert hall.  It allows for an entirely different relationship between the artist and the listener and for a much closer, much more personal experience.

Another “YouTube revelation” actually relates to the “Holy Grail” of the classical music industry – the young audience.  For years classical presenters have been trying to lure the younger crowd into concert halls and evidently without much success.  Yet, over half of my online viewers are people in their teens, twenties and thirties.  I receive daily emails from teenagers who say that they are inspired, and who subscribe to my channel along with Taylor Swift’s or Kanye’s.  These are guys and girls of very diverse backgrounds, but they all seem to have a sort of innate appreciation for this music.  And many grasp the significance of the arts much more than the classical establishment knows.  For example, my video about the arts in this economy has been passionately supported by countless young YouTubers, including such Internet stars as Ryan Higa and Iman Crosson, while traditional classical organizations have remained completely indifferent if not hostile.

DERRICK:  Have the advantages of the internet and YouTube, such as increased exposure, made up for the fact that there is less need now for people to buy records?

LOLA:  From the artistic and audience interaction standpoint – absolutely.  From the strictly commercial standpoint – not yet, but classical music is, probably, less affected by that than pop because classical record sales have been essentially non-existent for years.

DERRICK:  What do you think of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony having been arranged as a concerto for piano and orchestra?  Have you seen the score?

LOLA:  I haven’t seen the score.  I’d have to see it before I can tell you what I think.

DERRICK:  You mentioned that you hoped to play in Seattle next year.  Are you anticipating a solo recital, or an appearance with orchestra?  Has anything been confirmed yet?

LOLA:  I have a confirmed private event performance in Washington next year, but I don’t believe I’ve been invited by any classical presenters in Seattle.  Once I’m invited, sure, I’d love to come and perform.

DERRICK:  If I were to select a few pieces that I would most like to hear you play, I would choose Scriabin’s Etude Op. 42, No. 5, Prokofiev’s 6th and 8th sonatas, and the sonata by Samuel Barber.  Is there any hope for me?

LOLA:  Yes, let’s start with Scriabin’s Etude.  I haven’t played it in a long time so thanks for reminding me.

DERRICK:  Lola, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this interview.