This week, Terrance McKnight travels into a world of musical fantasy and improvisation. We hear music by Chopin and Liszt, two piano virtuosos and improvisers, and a touch of stride, courtesy of pianist James P. Johnson.
Despite obvious differences, both classical music and Jazz have common roots in improv. Many classical and romantic composers were also famed improvisers including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. The latter was a traveling virtuoso who would wow audiences with his impromptu improvisations during concerts. In the Rienzi Fantasy we're taken on a ride through Wagner's opera as seen through the eyes of Liszt. Wagner's well known melodies are transformed when Liszt adds his signature virtuosity and flair for improvisation.
Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu ventures through a whirlwind of washing pitches that flow into a more lyrical, dreamlike section before revisiting the opening. Chopin combines a traditional form with a more rhapsodic, improvisatory style, just as James P. Johnson does with his Jazzamine Concerto. Johnson weaves between both classical and jazz styles, uniting his passion for stride playing, with a desire to write in a more classical form.
Other examples heard today include music and by Marcus Roberts, Anat Fort, and much more.
An die Musik, D. 547
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Geoffrey Parsons, piano
Prayer for Peace
Marcus Roberts, piano
Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet
Richard Wagner/Franz Liszt
Endre Hegedus, piano
Anat Fort, piano
Chansons de Bilitis
Renee Fleming, soprano; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
James P. Johnson
James P. Johnson, piano
Fantasie-impromptu in C-sharp Minor, Op. 66
Andrea Lucchesini, piano
Elizabeth Mann, flute; Andre Previn, piano
Steven Isserlis, cello; Thomas Ades, pianist
Echo of Halos
Diverso Il Tempo
Jacob Ter Veldhuis (Jacob TV)
Rene Berman, cello; Kees Wieringa, piano
Differences (for cello and piano)
David Ying, cello; Elinor Freer, piano
Angele Dubeau, violin