The Evolving Piano

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

The piano is taught more than any other single instrument in America. And children studying piano learn to give recital programs no sooner than they can muster a few tunes.

This week, host Terrance McKnight features music written for piano. However his approach is not to cover the the mammoth works from the genre nor present works chronologically or thematically. This show is about the many moods, colors, shades and styles of piano music and the ways they have evolved over the past 300 years. And for variation, we hear a splash of clarinet and coloratura.


Berceuse in D-flat, Op. 57

Frederic Chopin




Troubled Water

Margaret Bonds

Joel Fan

Reference Recordings


Four Piano Blues

Aaron Copland

Alan Marks



“La vega”

Isaac Abeniz

Marc-andre Hamelin



Scherzo diabolico

Charles-Valentin alkan

Laurent Martin

Bernard Ringeissen



Suggestion diabolique

Sergei Prokofiev

Andrei Gavrilov



The Shepard on the Rock

Franz Schubert

Kathleen Battle, soprano

James Levine, piano

Karl Leister, clarinet



Piano sonata No. 9

Alexander Scriabin

Marcandre Hamelin


Ballade, Op. 46

Samuel Barber

John Browning

Music Masters


The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Margaret Bonds

Darryl Taylor



Six Morceaux for piano

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Martha Argerich, piano

Mirabela Dina, piano




Phillip Glass

DBR, violin

Thirsty Ear

Comments [2]

Silversalty from Brooklyn

Continuing in the same extended topic vein (on a now bit-bucket post):

NPR's 'Been there. Done that.'

Mar. 17 2013 08:58 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Loosely segue related:

Glenn Gould had his famous Steinway CD318 highly modified but he wanted a change that wasn't possible. He wanted to be able to effect vibrato by rocking the keys while pressed.

With our modern world of electro-mechanics, why not have a piano with variable sized keyboards so that people with hands smaller than Rachmaninoff's might more easily be able to play?

Why not have piano vibrato?

Programmed (computer coded virtuosity): This is probably possible already, given the recreations of past performances through analysis of older technology recordings, but why not have people program a piano to play like virtuosi? Sure, people want the show, but as Gould demonstrated, novel interpretations don't have to be seen to be appreciated. Why does someone have to have one in a hundred million physical talent to produce creative interpretations?

Maybe in the future the creation of virtual singing voices will expand the range of vocal interpretations?

I heard somewhere (don't remember where) that Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which begins with a clarinet glissando, wasn't written by Gershwin but an original orchestral arranger who knew a clarinet player who had a signature glissando, which was rarely done then. The result was the famous start of the rhapsody.


The opening clarinet glissando came into being during rehearsal when; " a joke on Gershwin, [Ross] Gorman (Whiteman's virtuoso clarinettist) played the opening measure with a noticeable glissando, adding what he considered a humorous touch to the passage. Reacting favourably to Gorman’s whimsy, Gershwin asked him to perform the opening measure that way at the concert and to add as much of a 'wail' as possible."

Schwartz, Charles, (1979). - Gershwin: His Life and Music. - New York, New York: Da Capo Press. - pp.81-83. - ISBN 978-0-306-80096-2. (via Wikipedia)

Mar. 16 2013 12:54 PM

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