Next Friday we're going to see Gustavo Dudamel conducting at Disney Hall - Brahms and Bach - the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 played by Yefim Bronfman. The concert is entitled: Dudamel, Bronfman and Brahms. The entitlers don't even acknowledge that half the program, at least, is Bach. How often does Bach take the back seat or no seat on a program? The program is loaded with testosterone and ego, an excellent combination. I can't wait.
As for Bronfman..Philip Roth says it all here...
It's easy to see why this piece is so popular. I like the perpetual motion in the bass which is mostly octaves going up and down. It adds something like a beating pulse to the song and gives it a life-like dimension.
Three parts of the orchestral suite are dance numbers: a gavotte; bouree (fast little steps)and a gigue (from which we get the word "jig")...am I being pedantic? I'm using this blog as an excuse to do my research prior to the performance. The gavotte is a stately dance they say. The jig section should be self-explanatory.
The Bach Ricercar comes next. Considered one of the most important piano compositions of all, it was also one of the first. RICERCAR is an acronym for "Regis Iussu Cantio Et Reliqua Canonica arte Resolute," which translates to "theme given by the king with additions resolved in the canonic style."
This is a great youtube to watch if you like Glenn Gould - it's too long but the first few minutes give you a feel for Glenn. At this stage of his life, he looks a bit like Stephen King. He hunches over the piano, singing to himself, playing themes with his right hand and conducting with his left, giving mini-lectures on Bach as he goes. Experts speculate that Glenn was on the autism spectrum which seems entirely possible given his eccentricities. In this video, he's sitting in the chair his father made for him which keeps him low on the piano...you can see it's all scratched up and beaten up, probably from being shipped to wherever he was playing. Gould was brilliant and good at everything he attempted...teaching, writing, lecturing, performing. Too bad he died at 50; who knows what he might have done later in his life.
The last item on the program is the Toccata and Fugue in D minor which everyone knows. I'm excited to hear it in the acoustically wonderful Disney Hall. The term toccata comes from the Italian word "Toccare" which means "to touch". A Toccata is a piece written for the keyboard or plucked stringed instrument which features fast moving passages and light fingering which employs and showcases the player's touch. It was often written and performed as a kind of resume. If you were auditioning a church organist, this is the piece you'd use for the test. Some speculate that whatever it was originally written for, it's now often used to test organs as it runs the gamut of an organ's capabilities. We last heard this in Copenhagen in the Cathedral where the thunderous organ made the seats vibrate and the imagination soar. Here's a very good version.
The concert is at 11:00 AM...the early concert goer's time slot. This gives all the rickety old concert geezers time to get home and have a good nap after all the excitement and it gives us a chance to beat the traffic back to Fallbrook.