Archive for 2012
I am pretty sure anyone can share some/many portions of this movie, mental disorder, marriage problem, affairs, family tension, loosing job, self-esteem, love, loneliness……. I have had some of those problems in my family, and I can relate with this movie very easily. Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) lost basically everything, his house, his job, and his wife because of his bad temper. So now he is back to his parents house living with them (Jacki Weaver and Robert DeNiro) after spending several months in a state institution. Pat struggles, but he is gradually figuring out his life. He met Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a strange girl with her own problem in Pat’s age, and eventually they found the purpose together, and fell in love. It is a very good love-comedy, but the ending is too good after horrible struggles and difficulties. Yes, it is a movie, a movie lives in the fantasy world, but it is really not realistic at all. This movie portrays human psychology well, but toward the end the story suddenly becomes too happy. Everything becomes bright and positive. Acting is great. The story is wonderful. I wish this unrealistic ending can be something else that I can relate with.
I attended the LA Phil musicians chamber music concert on Tuesday 12/11/12. It is always so interesting to hear individual voices of orchestra musicians. The program included Bach: A musical Offering, Sonata sopra il Soggetto Reale, Haydn: String Quartet in C major, Op. 76, Mozart: String Quintet in C major, K. 515 (unusually for 2 violas and Mozart did not have any specific people to write for), and finished with Zelenka: Concerto a 8 concertanti. LA Phil is famous for their new music playing, but on this concert Haydn was the most recent composer! Personally I have performed with some of musicians on this concert so it is so nice to hear my friends playing too! Also it is worth mentioning that there were 3 married couples on this concert! Each group offered different ensemble sound and interpretation. I was not familiar with Zelenka’s music, and I am happy now that I heard it! It is like J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg concerto, small ensemble with soloistic playing in concertino section. Players in Zelenka played so well individually and as a group. Of course all 4 groups played a great chamber music. On the way to the exit I saw my music lover friends and chatted for a while. They loved the concert as well as I did!
I have been practicing Yoga daily for 15-20 years. Before going to bed I do several yoga poses for stretching and relaxing and do some floor exercises when I don’t go to gym. I started to practice yoga when I was doing doctoral degree in music at Rice University because of so much stress and work. I believe it worked (!) I earned DMA degree! Besides yoga I know some accu-pressure points so I combine yoga and Tsubo (accu-pressure). Recently with my curiosity I read some books on Alexander Technique. One book was exclusively for musicians. Alexander Technique seems too intellectual to my taste . We usually do things without thinking too much. Like performance, we study and practice hard, but at the actual performance on stage we are not thinking intellectually. We analyze Bach’s fugue in details, but again when we play we go for the flow. It seems understanding body/mind function in Alexander ‘s way can be anti nature. It looks to me his thinking is backward. He tries to put the meaning forth-fully to the acts we usually do naturally without thinking. His thinking may be related to the medicines in Western world. It is still very surprising to me that people in USA rely on medicines so easily instead of straighten the body’ immune system and food to intake. The medicine can be poisonous. Coming from Eastern world, Japan, myself food can be our daily medicine (and fun as well!), and we adjust what we eat and drink according to our body’s needs (Yaku-zen). I may need to take individual lessons and lectures of Alexander Technique to understand deeply. But for now I stick with my routine exercises of Yoga!
I attended the dress rehearsal for LA Phil’s concert with a conductor laureate, Essa-Pekka Salonen. The program includes Salonen’s went coast premiere work of Nyx, Schumann’s very special and affectionate piano concerto, Lutoslawski’s Les espaces du sommel, and Tchaikovski’s Francesca da Rimmi. I loved Tchaikovsky. It shows his forte which he weaves the story into music, and makes it so dramatic with beautiful tunes. We will come out of the hall singing tunes (guys often behave like James Bond after seeing his movie!). Nyx is very imaginative and colorful. In the composer’s program note he describes “Nyx is a shadowy figure in Greek mythology”. The ensemble between the conductor/composer and the orchestra was fantastic. They still have a strong relation together. I heard from the musician in the orchestra that Salonen described his passion in Lutoslawski’s music. In Salonen’s 2 weeks residency in LA LA Phil plays several works by Lutoslawski. Les espaces du sommeil was composed upon the request from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Actually Fischer-Dieskau premiered this work with Lutoslawski on the podium with Berlin Philharmonic in 1978. Lutoslawski uses beautiful poems by Robert Desnos, and the baritone voice leads the piece. Gerald Finley sings this time with LA Phil, and he does an amazing job bringing the emotion to the audience. It is always so interesting and almost educational to hear the same orchestra conducted by the different conductors.
Argo is more than Hollywood fiction movie. It is based on the true story from 1979, and this true story is almost unbelievable. The American embassy in Iran was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and they took Americans as hostage. However, six embassy workers managed to escape to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador. With the kindness and braveness of the Canadian Ambassador and his wife they were staying there for long time. CIA was finally ordered to get them out of Iran. With few options (and nothing good..) , an exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up an unique idea: to create a phony Canadian film (Argo), like Star Wars, project looking to shoot in Iran and smuggle the six Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some trusted Hollywood contacts, John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel, Mendez entered Iran as its associate producer. Ok, ok.. you have to go to the movie theatre to see this movie to know the conclusion! Ben Affleck is a director as well, and he has done great job as an actor and director. Heroic, emotional, thrilling, triumph….what do you need more for the movie?!
I usually don’t miss any James Bond movie, and yes, I went to see the newest one, “Skyfall”. My local movie theatre got amazing seats which have huge space for each person and recliner. Oh well I was just so comfortable and happy sitting there as if I were at home. It was so interesting to see people behaving as if they were at home as well. I felt I was in the huge home theatre. I wish a fridge and a bathroom are nearby (!) Daniel Craig is one of the best Bond’s actors. This time Bond’s loyalty to M (Judy Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. She is tough. Javier Bardem (Silva) is a villain in this movie, and he does an amazing job as always. Eva (Naomi Harris) is Bond’s colleague as well as sort of Bond’s girl. She decided to stay in office so she will come back in sequel ! This is a insider story in Bond’ss agency, and I can’t tell you the ending, but it is a big ending. When the old Bond’s car came back in his life the audience cheered ( I did too). And the famous Bond’s theme was played with the original guitars version. We love 007.
How many times have I heard Grieg Concerto?? Some of my friends were practicing it while I was at conservatories, I have heard it at several concerto competitions when I was a judge, I taught it to my students, and I have heard it at concerts…. I have not played it myself, but I think I knew it very well. I went to LA Phil’s Sunday matinee concert at Disney Hall yesterday. Simon Trpceski, a young Macedonian pianist, played this famous well-played piece with great imagination and fantasy, fresh ideas and approaches. Of course it was so well done with the ensemble between a soloist and a conductor, Vasily Petrenko. It was so nice to hear Grieg concerto! Almost surprise! Trpceski showed us how we should play piano, beautiful color and phrases. The first piece on the program was Nielsen’s Maskarade Overture, charming and lively opening, and they finished with Shostakovich 10th symphony, dark and tragic reflecting Stalin’s years in Russia, and a triumph ending to celebrate his death.
I had a great time playing Brahms Piano Quintet with amazing musician friends. We performed 2 occasions last week. One anecdote tells how Brahms composed his works. Let me introduce you this story. One evening in Vienna Brahms joined his friends at cafe, and his friend asked him how he spent his day. Brahms answered “I was working on my symphony. In the morning I added an eighth note, and in the afternoon I took it out”. Brahms completed this piano quintet in very slow process. In 1862 he got the idea to compose chamber music for string quintet, with 2 cellos. After he finished the first 3 movements he sent them to his friends, his mentor, Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. They were happy to receive them, but they showed some disagreement. Joachim told him “The details of the work has a great strength, but what is lacking is in a word, charm.” So next year Brahms came up the idea to write this piece for 2 pianos, and premiered with Karl Tausig. Clara heard it and played it, and said “it cannot be called a Sonata. I have a feeling that it was an arrangement… Please remodel it once more!” In following year Brahms got the idea of writing this piece for piano quintet. This time Clara said “You have turned a monotonous work for 2 pianos into a thing of great beauty, a masterpiece of chamber music”. Yes, she is right! I have played those 2 versions, and piano quintet seemed an entirely different accomplishment. We have Op. 34b for 2 piano version now. Brahms’ Piano Quintet Op. 34 is one of the best chamber music ever written, and I am very lucky to observe it.
Last Sunday November 4th I had 2 concerts of chamber music, one at LACMA Sunday Live, and another one for LA Phil’s Committee group. At LACMA we played trios for flute, cello, and piano by Kuhlau, Martinu, and Kapustin, and duo for cello and piano by Mendelssohn. This program covers a wide range of musical styles, Classical (Kuhlau was a a contemporary of Beethoven), Romantic (Mendelssohn was born in 1809, Chopin and Schumann was born in 1810, and Liszt in 1811!!), 20th century music (Martinu was born in 1890 in Czech), and here comes Kapustin born in Russia in 1937 with jazz elements. It was a first time for me to perform at LACMA Sunday Live, and I was so happy to see the big audience! It is organized so well with an artistic director, Bill Vestel, a broadcast host, Dennis Bade, and a broadcast engineer, Peter Sutheim. The audience was very enthusiastic, and it was fun to perform! After LACMA Sunday Live David, my husband, and I went to LA Phil Committee concert in west side. The host of the concert owns an amazing house with a great music room surrounded by many contemporary arts. Even in the bathroom there would be some arts sitting! We played trio for violin, cello, and piano by Clara Schumann which we will perform in January as a part of LA Phil Chamber Music Concert in Disney Hall. I really like this piece. I can sense Clara’s beautiful spirit. If you don’t know her she was a wife of Robert Schumann. Back then there was not much opportunity for women to be a composer. She was known to be a better pianist than Robert, and she promoted his music. She collaborated with Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Joachim… Whenever I think about those composers living at the same time, collaborating, influence and criticism (!) that gives me excitement. If I remember correctly Liszt once commented how great she was as a pianist.
My Chamber Music Fest continues to next Monday 12th at Occidental College in Bird Studio at 12:45pm with Brahms Piano Quintet, one of the greatest chamber music written in Romantic Period. It is free! I will speak about how Brahms developed his idea to write this piece with the consultations of Clara and Joachim! Please join us! We will play Brahms one more time in Disney Hall for LA Phil subscribers on 11/17.
I really liked this colorful piece, “Azul”, by Osvaldo Golijov. I went to LA Phil’s Sunday matinee concert on November 4. “Azul” was performed right after Barber’s Second Essay for Orchestra. I am a big fan of Barber’s music, from piano solo pieces (I recorded his “Excursions” Op. 20 on my first CD), to great songs, concertos, chamber music, etc. We tend to think about his music as Neo-Romantic, but Second Essay for Orchestra gave me an entirely different side of Barber. This piece was written in 1942 3 years after his amazing work of violin concerto. It is more abstract, more angular, more edgy. I enjoyed it! Most interestingly Barber’s music lead to Golijov’s music pretty well. I was first wondering about the 2 different composers back to back, but it made some sense to me. Golijov was born in Argentina (the country I love!), and now he is on the faculty of Boston Conservatory and College of the Holy Cross. Azul is titles as cello concerto, but to me it was a concerto for 4 instruments, cello, 2 percussions, and hyper-accordion. Each player has a significant role in this piece. Golijov crafted his musical ideas and color that he wanted to hear, and combined it with different musical styles. This piece shows his great talent because it sounded so natural, so organic. A young cello star, Joshua Roman, has beautiful sound and phrasing which fits to this timeless work pretty well. I was most impressed by Keita Ogawa, one of percussionists. He can manage any percussion instruments vey well, and it was so fun to sense his joy of music making. To me he was as if a magician, pulling new tricks or treasure from the box one by one. He seemed so relaxed and joyful. Hyper-accordion player, Michael Ward-Bergeman and a percussionist, Jamey Haddad did stylistic and skillful work as well. The concert was conducted by the gust conductor, Marin Alsop.