Thinking About Music IV

music 31 (coming soon) –

in the meantime … here’s a repeat of a fav played by the lovely and talented Valentina Lisitsa along with — since I have it handy now — some additional info about the music …

If you think you don’t like classical music, then click here:  (NOBODY Can Not Like This).

And, oh by the way … You have GOT to be KIDDING ME. How can Valentina – or ANYBODY! – DO THAT?!!!! ‹{͡๏_͡๏ ̃̾}› ♥.•*¨*•.♥

In that amazing video, the lovely and talented Valentina Lisitsa is playing …

… Carmen Fantasie …

a really stunning and beautiful musical work which, according to Wikipedia, is not, as I thought, written by Bizet (the composer of the opera, Carmen), but by Vladimir Horowitz:

“A number of classical composers have used themes from Carmen as the basis for works of their own. Some of these, such as Pablo de Sarasate‘s Carmen Fantasy (1883) for violin and orchestra, Franz Waxman‘s Carmen Fantasie (1946) for violin and orchestra and Vladimir Horowitz‘sVariations on a theme from Carmen for solo piano are virtuoso showpieces in the tradition of fantasias on operatic themes.”

Oh, ok. I should have known it was by Horowitz. The Valentina video is labelled, “Bizet/Horowitz Carmen Fantasy,” a clear indication that the work is a piano transcription … actually, not exactly a transcription, if we want to get picky … not exactly an arrangement … it’s a new composition based on and inspired by the music of the opera, for solo piano … but the Bizet/Horowitz author citation is telling us Horowitz wrote the piano music we’re hearing and seeing Valentina, Horowitz, and others play on the playlist. Glad we got that settled.

Here’s a discussion in Wikipedia of the Horowitz piano composition based on Bizet’s Carmen Fantasie.  Apparently, there’s a gypsy dance in the opera that is the basis for the piano fantasie.  And also “fantasie” is, apparently, yet another type of musical work like a sonata, concerto, symphony, fugue, rhapsody, and so forth.

Another Carmen Piano Fantasie: Busconi

There’s another piano fantasie based on the opera, Carmen, this time by Busconi.  This one is 7-8 minutes and includes, to my ear at least, more of the  signature themes from the opera.  I could hear, for example, the sassy aria where Carmen sings about love as being like a gypsy bird (or something like that) and also the march of the troubadours.  Maybe more.  What?  Oh, right.  Make that, March of the Matadors.  Thank you.

I started to see in this performance of the Busconi Carmen Fantasie by the lovely Marina Scalafiotti (my kind of girl, of course) why this genre, this musical genre, this musical type, is called a “fantasy,” since this Busconi piece starts out whimsical, builds into all sorts of moods and energies in the middle, and finishes very softly as if dreaming or waking up softly from a dream.

Horowitz Version a Fantasy?

Horowitz didn’t include the word, “fantasy”, in his title.  His title is “variations on a theme from Carmen.”  I need to go back and listen to it again to see to what extent its textures and tones make me think fantasy, dream, daydream, wistful, and other things that might make sense within the idea of “fantasy.”  Listened to it again.  It’s playful enough and fluttery enough in places, along with the the powerful stuff, to be a “fantasy.”  Unlike Busconi’s, the Horowitz work comes to brisk, strong, dramatic finish.  That works.  He used it as his “show-stopping encore.”  I can see that working.

Remember “Records”?

For those of you who became of music appreciation age after the age of “records” and “record players,” this performance of the Busconi Carmen Fantasie by Arrau in 1920 will show you why tapes, CDs, and Dvds replaced “records” in the sense of those black vinyl discs with the grooves that needed a needle to drag through them.  Imperfections in original recording or wear of the record or wear of the needle or even dust could add static-y sound to the music as you hear on this video.  Let’s see … when did that transition happen?  Had 45 rpms and some 33 rpms in junior high, 64 through 67.  seems like greater emphasis on 33 rpm and less on 45 rpm and 78 rpm completely gone in late 60s high school.  “8 track” tapes were big for a while, mostly for the car, still records at home, maybe late high school early college.  College was all 33 rpm, no 45 rpm.  maybe 8 track replaced by smaller audio cassettes for portable.  Joni Mitchell records in mid 70s.  33 rpm in dorm in 79 81  Had a lot of cassette tapes for car in 93 94 … at home, can’t really picture the audio at home … oh was still record and tape and radio … by 96, cds had been around a while and seemed the only right thing to buy for home … 4 or more cd Abba Gold set in 4 or more cd player … car at this point a mix of tape or cd … sony walkman i think mostly still tape … still some cassette tapes … for most people, 33 rpms mostly memorabilia … 98 bose wave cd … movies still vhs, betamax gone … dvd not there yet, i think … something like that …

so you get into having your own music at, say, 7th grade, say 13, teen age … records pretty much gone by at least 96 … so if 13 in 96, missed records completely … mom, dad, older siblings might have some in the house, but you were headed to cds and tapes … guessing here … 13 in 96 is born in 83 … so, if born after mid-80s, probably missed the whole records, record player, dusting records off, scratching records by bumping the table the record player was on which scratched the needle across the grooves, and replacing the needle scenario.

let’s see how that tracks with the official story on wikipedia …

Here’s what a “record player”, also called a “turntable,” looked like while playing a 33 rpm “record” (also known as an “LP”, for long-playing record).  It looked like this.  At the time, one could also spot the occasional pterodactyl or brachiosaurus.

The Concert Pianist Equivalent of The Solo for “Louie Louie”?

Before Jimi Hendrix came along, people would assess the skill of guitar players by asking, “Ok, but can he play the solo for ‘Louie Louie?'”  When Jimi came along, the question changed to, “Ok, fine, but can he play ‘Purple Haze?'”  (These were pre-Orianthi times, so it was pretty much all “he” for this line of discussion.)  I don’t know what it is these days, maybe some Metallica or Dave Mustaine or Eddie van Halen or Slash riff.

I’m thinking this Bizet/Horowitz Carmen Fantasy is the concert piano testosterone test.  What?  Girls can have testosterone too.  Figuratively.  C’mon.

“Wooden Ships”, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”, and “California Dreaming”

“Wooden Ships” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and “California Dreaming” by The Mamas and the Papas are great songs from the 60s.  I put the first CSNY song, “Ohio,” on the playlist because it showed what a “33 rpm LP record” and a “record player” looked like.  The others I put on because I like them and because Valentina Lisitsa may have played piano transcriptions of them.  What?  Maybe not?  Well, let me say this about that: Yes, maybe not, but also maybe.  Hey, if she can handle that unbelievable Bizet/Horowitz Carmen Fantasie, she can somehow get through Wooden Ships, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, and California Dreaming.


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