May 8th, 2013
My husband, David Garrett, a cello, and I have been performing our annual recital at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena for many year. We called ourselves as The Belrose Duo. Mainly we like to do (!), but also we like to help the music program at FUMC. A free-will offering at the recital will be donated to Friends of Music Fund. This Fund helps special music programs and the music department at the church. This year we will be performing the program of Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924): Sonata No2. for cello and piano, Op. 39, Frank Bridge (1879-1941): Elegie and Scherzo, Frederick Delius (1862-1934): Sonata for violoncello and piano, Gabriel Faure (1845-1924): Apres un reve, Op. No. 1 and Papillon, Op. 77, and David Popper (1843-1913): Autumn and Dances of the Gnomes from “In the Forest”, Op. 55, and Concert-Polonaise No. 2, Op. 28.
We will start the program with an Irish composer, Stanford, whose musical style is typical Romantic, like Brahms. Each 3 movement in his Sonata has different voices to offer, and especially I like the lyricism in the 2nd movement. After Stanford we will move into Bridge’s short character pieces. Elegie is beautiful, and Scherzo is fun and mischievous. After the intermission we will play another English composer, Delius, whose music is impressionistic and imaginative, no structure to hold on to, and flows freely. Then we will play Encores (!) planned in the program. As you see 2013 makes David Popper’s centennial year. He was a Bohemian cellist and composer. He was a super virtuoso cellist and respected teacher in European music scene in 19th-20th century. He taught Adolf Schiffer who was a teacher of late Janoz Starker. (Popper was married to a pianist, Sophie Menter, a pupil of Liszt, and their marriage did not last… )
The church is located in the heart of Old Town Pasadena, and its sanctuary has an amazing acoustic. I hope you can join us for Saturday afternoon concert, May 11 at 2pm, and you may enjoy strolling Colorado Blvd afterwards. The church website is: fumcpasadena.org
May 2nd, 2013
I have not seen Miyazaka’s animation movies for a while, and was very excited to see it. Yes, it was much more than I expected. I am still feeling home sick, and nostalgie. The movie is set in Yokohama, a port town, in 1963, when Japan was growing, and the people looked forward for tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow was certainly better than today, and Japanese people believed the bright future. I am much younger than the students in this movie, but I can share many things with them… After this movie I listened Japanese pop music from that era, and even I became more nostalgic. This movie is beautiful, romantic, and very positive. Of course Ghibli, an animation company Miyazaka owns, makes amazing movies, and it is one of them. I relate to this movie very directly, but how about young kids?? The story is very nice so they would like it any way, I suppose! I watched it in English version, but I am curious to see it in Japanese.
April 21st, 2013
When I saw the names in the cast (Javier Bardem and Ben Affleck) of “To The Wonder” I thought I can’t miss this movie. Well.. I was wrong. It has lots of beautiful scenes, but I don’t think it is a movie. I felt as if I was watching many segments of Calvin Klein’s commercials. Or Olga Kurylenko’s promotional video clips?? She is, of course, very beautiful to look. There is no dialogue. There is no continuous story. There are just segments of thought and scenes. And there are so many same camera works. Finally It is so unreal that it looked funny. It was very disappointing.
April 21st, 2013
I am sure many people still remember Mr. Schiff’s epic concerts on Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier Book.1 and 2 from last October. This time he came back to Disney Hall with Bach’s 6 French Suites and French Overture on Wednesday 4/17. He performed all 6 suites as a set in a first half. How can he keep that deep focus on the stage front of a big audience?? He looked as if he was in his comfortable room playing by himself or for his friends. He was having a wonderful time playing piano. He brought great characters from each dance movement. As an amazing scholar I believe he has studied those pieces over and over, but at the performance he could have a great fun as if he was playing them for the first time. And here comes his famous No-Pedal approach to Bach. If you are curious about his fingerings on Bach you can look at Henle’s new Schiff edition on the Well-Tempered Clavier. He uses very interesting fingerings. After the concert I visited back stage. When I commented to him that he was having a wonderful time, he said he loves an acoustic and piano in Disney Hall. I totally agree with him! Also last fall I had a great opportunity to play for him, and I chose Bach’s French Overture. It was so fun and inspiring to hear him playing.
April 8th, 2013
It is truly a beautiful movie, especially scenes in French Riviera and colorful and stylish costumes for actresses. The costumes may not be exactly period designs, but I loved them! “Renoir”, directed by Gilles Bourdos, is set in 1915 during WWI. The drama is about the story around a famous impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and his middle son, Jean, with the last model of elder Renoir, Andree. The elder Renoir was facing unavoidable health decline, but Andree’s appearance gave him a new energy and inspiration. The story continues in beautiful French countryside, with a free spirited beautiful Andree, Jean’s love to Andree, Andree’s love to jean, an elder Renoir’s endless motivation to paint, maids who serve to elder Renoir with passion and love, the third son of Renoir’s peculiar behavior….. I just came back from France, and it was so nice to feel “French” in this movie. Being sons of a celebrated painter they grew up around their father’s nude models and their relationship with the painter.
Excellent acting, beautiful camera work…..I enjoyed this movie so much!
April 3rd, 2013
After the concert on Beethoven’s piano concerto, youtube link http://youtu.be/8UvdTE1YEpw, I took a week off from Occidental College to fly to France! I have not done a real trip without performances for a long time, and it was so good to do. No worry to find a piano to practice, no worry to have memory slip after long flights…. I truely enjoyed every moment. First I visited my friend, Marielle, in Treignac, near Limoge, and later joined my husband in Paris who was traveling Europe as a part of LA Phil’s tour. I had not seen Marielle for many years, and we had lots to catch up! She lives in a medievel house which has been the hand of her family since the medievel time. It is amazing! Now she lives with her hunband, Francois, and they renovated the place to do Bed and Breakfast Inn during the season. It was beautiful as I remembered from the previous visits. And we took a walk with her cousin, Therese, in the countryside. If you go to France you must experience it’s countryside. It is just so special, peaceful, quiet, woods, river, lakes, hilly, you name it! I totally understand Chopin liked to stay a country home with Sand to be inspired. After few days in Treignac I came back to Paris. Or course I visited touristic places, but most importantly I visited many composers’ tombs. Paris has full of history, history…. I had lot to talk with each composer I visited, especially Chopin. How many hours I have spent on his music?? And confession to be made.
France was still pretty cold when I left, but in LA we are having a beaituful spring, birds singing and flower blooming. 1/4 of 2013 has been gone, and it is time to practice for next performances.
March 18th, 2013
It is about recent 150 years of history in Jewish culture and community around the famous song “Hava Nagira”. It is documentary and very funny! Most everyone has heard this song in some occasions even non-Jewish people like me. The movie tells us the journey of Jewish people across the generations all over the world, especially settlers to US land. One interesting fact in this movie for me was to discover Japanese education system adopted the Jewish folk dance with their music into elementary to middle school system in Japan. I clearly remember we had to dance with boys with Jewish folk music, and we very much often commented that it was not pleasure (!) to touch their hands and bodies while we were dancing. Japanese culture is so different from Jewish. Until I saw this movie I did not know that dance and music was from Jewish culture. When I started to hear the familiar melody in this movie I instantly remembered the memory from those dancing experience in Japan when I was young. Japan did not import Jewish heritage or back ground, we only adopted the dance and the music. How interesting and almost funny….
Anyway it is a very good movie, educational, yet entertaining. I had a great time! I laughed a lot!
March 10th, 2013
I will be performing this beautiful concerto with Pasadena Community Orchestra on Friday March 15 at 8pm. The venue will be at First Church of the Nazarene, 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91107. (www.pcomusic.org)
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, was premiered in March 1807 at a private concert of the home of Prince Franz von Lobkowitz, then the public premiere was on 22 December 1808 in Vienna at the Theater an der Wien. Beethoven took the stage as soloist for both occasions, and it became his last appearance as a soloist with orchestra. The concert was marathon (!) which program included Choral Fantasy (I will perform this piece with Choral Bel Canto on Saturday June 1st at 4pm at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena. www.fumcpasadena.org or www.choralbelcanto.org), 5th and 6th symphonies, some smaller scale pieces, and this concerto. It was about 3-4 hours long, and the venue was not heated (December in Vienna…). Unfortunately the rehearsal was not efficient as well. So the audience was not super enthusiastic even though a review in May 1809 edition of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung stated that “this concerto is the most admirable, singular, artistic and complex Beethoven concerto ever”. The piece was neglected until 1846 when it was revived by Mendelssohn. Beethoven dedicated the concerto to his friend, student, and patron, the Archduke Rudolph. Now the work is widely performed and recorded, and is considered to be one of the central works of the piano concerto literature.
I have been having an amazing time learning/practicing/studying this piece. It is tender, sensitive, beautiful, free, expressive, yet powerful. Our orchestra rehearsals have been going wonderfully. I am very excited to perform this Friday! I hope you can join me.
February 24th, 2013
I performed Goldberg Variations for the 5th time this afternoon for Brand Library Music Series. I enjoyed playing them (it takes more than 1 hour to play so my mind was not always calm…!), and I hope I could bring the characters of each variation. I have my personal imagery and feelings about the variations. It has unique keyboard techniques, variety of Baroque dances, canons, and character pieces, and they gave us the path to imagine. After the concert some of audience members asked me very good questions,, and I was happy to talk about the piece with them. This piece always gives the performer and the audience great inspirations. I have a plan to take it to Japan this summer. Meantime I have a music gathering, LA Phil’s Committee, to play and talk about Goldberg Variations next week. I have selected about a half of variations, and discuss on them and perform them. My journey with Goldberg is continuing.
February 3rd, 2013
I studied with Mr. Perry at Rice University for my doctoral degree. I learned so many things from him. It was a great opportunity for me, not only learning a great music making with Mr. Perry, but also learning American Culture! I have so many wonderful memory with him. When I received the announcement that he was going to perform his final recital those memories came back. All of my studio mates were amazing musicians, and it was inspiring to study together.
Mr. Perry performed Beethoven: Pathetic Sonata, Schubert: Impromptus D 899, and Brahms: No. 3 Sonata. And he surprised us playing Ondine from Gaspard de la Nuit for encore, and it was really really good! It was a beautiful recital. All of us cheered him at the end! I understand he won’t perform in public anymore…, but I am sure he will play during lessons. That’s why I learned from him. His beautiful piano sound is still in my ears, and will stay forever. His final recital reminded me that things have ending. All of us have to face the moment to retire. I am so glad I could attend this monumental recital. It was touching, and I had difficult time holding my tears.