Old folk at lunch

Friday, September 21, 2018

A new favourite pianist


I listen to quite as lot of music on video -- mostly classical.  And the piano is of course a big part of that.  So it is a very pleasant discovery for me to come across a new artist -- new to me anyway.  Up until recently my favourite pianist was Yuja Wang, a gift to us all from Beijing.  I have just in the last few days got to hear the playing of Alice Sara Ott, from Germany.  Her mother was Japanese so she is rather tiny in build but quite pretty. 

I have heard quite a few pieces by her but the one that gets to me most is Beethoven's 3rd Piano concerto.  Her timing is exquisite.  Below she joins with the French national radio orchestra in Paris under a Finnish conductor.



Before her the pianist I was listening to most was Yuja Wang.  She is quite amazing playing Schubert.  I know the words and story for quite a few Schubert Lieder and listening to Wang play I could swear she has the words in her head too.  Her playing exactly reflects the poem concerned.  Below is an example of that most dramatic Lied Der Erlkoenig -- set to a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



The Erl-King

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Who's riding so late where winds blow wild
It is the father grasping his child;
He holds the boy embraced in his arm,
He clasps him snugly, he keeps him warm.

"My son, why cover your face in such fear?"
"You see the elf-king, father?
He's near! The king of the elves with crown and train!"
"My son, the mist is on the plain."

'Sweet lad, o come and join me, do!
Such pretty games I will play with you;
On the shore gay flowers their color unfold,
My mother has many garments of gold.'

"My father, my father, and can you not hear
The promise the elf-king breathes in my ear?"
"Be calm, stay calm, my child, lie low:
In withered leaves the night-winds blow."

'Will you, sweet lad, come along with me?
My daughters shall care for you tenderly;
In the night my daughters their revelry keep,
They'll rock you and dance you and sing you to sleep.'

"My father, my father, o can you not trace
The elf-king's daughters in that gloomy place?"
"My son, my son, I see it clear
How grey the ancient willows appear."

'I love you, your comeliness charms me, my boy!
And if you're not willing, my force I'll employ.'
"Now father, now father, he's seizing my arm.
Elf-king has done me a cruel harm."

The father shudders, his ride is wild,
In his arms he's holding the groaning child,
Reaches the court with toil and dread. -
The child he held in his arms was dead.


And before that I was most often listening to Emil Gilels, a Ukrainian pianist from the Soviet era -- playing Beethoven's 5th concerto, "The Emperor".  Its beauty  still moves me to tears




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