Thursday, February 28, 2013

Olga Kern and the Rach Third

As a followup to yesterday's tribute to the late Van Cliburn, I started casting about for more modern performances of Cliburn's winning works.  Here is a stunning full-length (42+ minutes) performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor by Olga Kern (aka Olga Pushechnikova), herself a former gold medal winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Van Cliburn, R.I.P.

Van Cliburn passed today at age 78.  He was the best-known classical pianist of my generation (I'm not counting Liberace here), coming to the forefront when he won the  International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958, at age 23, becoming known as the "Texan who conquered Russia".  He is perhaps best known for the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 which he performed at that competition, along with the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, which I particularly liked (he was definitely an inspiration and influence during my high school years), and as shown here:

I also saw an encore piece on Van Cliburn on tonight's NewsHour, and have been reading a large number of online tributes from many other sources, easily discovered with Google.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Regina Carter

Last night I tuned in my local PBS station to catch Austin City Limits (Esperanza Spalding was on!), and a bit early, came upon last twenty minutes or so of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (a series I will not overlook in the future!). Featured was violinist Regina Carter and her group, playing some very wonderful stuff indeed, apparently mostly from her "Reverse Thread" album. While I haven't located that exact performance yet, here is a sample of the group via YouTube:
 Note the use of the kora, an African harp-like instrument (aka calabash?) I first became aware of a couple of years ago -- was it on Bill Frisell's "Intercontinentals" album?

The only music I have of Regina Carter is a album with Kenny Barron, the 2001 "Freefall". But that needs to change! Regina Carter is classically-trained, but professionally works as a jazz musician with strong Afro-Cuban and other world music influences. Carter is a cousin of the noted woodwind, especially baritone sax, jazz player, James Carter (the two did a duet album around 2000 that I need to track down). She received particular notice, in the aftermath of 9/11, for being the first jazz musician and first African American to be invited to play "The Cannon", the legendary 1700s violin once owned and used by 18th century Italian composer and violinist, Niccolo Paganini.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

O Sister

A great Spanish group, singing and composing in the spirit of the Boswell Sisters: Visit them at