Quality not Quantity Becomes the Key Question for People. What does that mean? Let’s start by discussing a primary source of quantity: the periodic chart. It gives defining information of the elements of nature as well as some that are man made.
Above is an elementalal excerpt from a periodic chart. The quantity of particles determines the substance and properties.
Five protons in the nucleus makes an atom of boron.
Six, makes an atom of carbon.
Seven makes notrogen.
With people we have a paradox. The elements that make different people are basically the same for everyone. However, with people, quality makes the difference. How agreeable is your personality? Do you finish projects you’ve started? Do you show your family affection? How well do you do your job?
Quality versus Quantity in Music
With the arts: Does your oil painting move others? Did the audience love your piano rendition? Are you leading a happy and rewarding life? These qualities cannot be ascribed to ordinary elements. People have a higher calling than the physical. Some call it soul. Perhaps it’s self-motivation or personality? Perhaps quality is an inherited trait? Whatever it is, it is above the physical plane.
The picture to the right is of Maurice Ravel seated at the piano. His compositions are of exceptional quality. Had he written 10 times as many compositions as he did, but all terrible, no one would have listened to his music. Because of quality, he is a highly revered French Impressionistic composer. Below is a sample of my own piano playing with violinist Steven Greenman. The concert was just given in Ohio at the Circleville High School auditorium.
I personality love the piano music of Franz Schubert. In addition to great melodies, I find him to be a rare master of rests. He frames his phrases and motifs beautifully with rests. They have tremendous artistic impact- I think more so than any other composer. Hopefully I will soon be posting my own rendition soon of his Sonata Op 120 in A. Keep checking the site. Thanks.
Conclusion: We all have quantity. It’s our quality that makes us outstanding as individuals. Feel free to share the post.
Ravel Has Novelty, Always in Good Taste. The Golden Encyclopedia of Music by Norman Lloyd confirms my thoughts. His music is “rarely emotional.” It is as though he wrote waltzes, minuets or sonatas with amusement or affection. Lloyd brings out his contrast with Debussy:
Debussy drew much of his inspiration from nature.
Ravel received his creative impulses from dance.
The Background of Ravel
Ravel’s mother was a Basque. That defines a region located around the western end of the Pyrenees (the part shaded red). It is on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The Bay straddles parts of north-central Spain, and south-western France.
Part of his soul was Spanish. His masterpiece, Bolero, is an affirmation. Again, we see a prime example of his affinity for dance. Here’s my favorite story. I set it up by contrast to a story about John Cage. The theme for Bolero is only 8 bars long. Its treatment by variations with orchestra is 17 minutes long. But, it builds to one of the greatest climaxes ever. In his humble manner, Ravel called it: “17 minutes of orchestration without any music.” By contrast John Cage wrote a piece of music that he calls 4’33”. It refers to the time of actual silence. Not one tone is played. You can “hear” it on youtube.
My Upcoming French Piano Concert
I am planning a full piano concert of French piano music from the late 1800’s and early 19oo’s. My instructor, Mischa Kottler, asked me to do such the concert just before he passed away. He studied in Paris under Alfred Cortot in the 1920’s. Below is a sample of him playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz.
The entries of my own concert will include the following works:
by Claude Debussy: Deux Arabesques, the entire Suite Bergamasque, Reverie. the Sarabande from Pour le Piano, Estampes, and La Cathedrale engloutie
By Gabriel Faure: Pavane
By Maurice Ravel: Sonatine
I will be arranging a date and place in the near future. It will be announced as an event on DSOworks.com. Below is a sample of the concert taken from from my upcoming Debussy CD. It is his Claire de Lune. from the Suite Bergamasque. Click on the title.
The Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50, is a pavane by the French composer Gabriel Fauré written in 1887. It was originally a piano piece, but was known. at one time in Fauré’s version, as a version for orchestra, optional chorus and dancers.
THE GRAND SCOPE OF THE PAVANE
Gabriel Fauré and his misunderstood Pavane. The pavane, as a musical form, has taken a bad rap in recent times. As an opus, the pavane has acquired an overly sad, even funeral-like character. However, the impressionistic composers often looked to the 16th and 17th century for inspiration. The pavane was a slow and dignified court dance from Spain. It possibly comes from the Spanish word, “pavo”, which means “peacock”. Certainly, from the given description, the dancers strut around like peacocks. In the 1500’s the dance used bowing, curtsying and walking. Musically it is a slow and expressive section of the dance suite.
HOW THE SCOPE OF THE PAVANE GREW, AND I I HOPE TO PLAY A CONCERT OF FRENCH PIANO MUSIC
Before writing this blog, I thought that the Pavane was a commemorative musical work for someone who is deceased. Perhaps my erroneous conception came from the title of Maurice Ravel’s work Pavane for a Dead Princess. The pavane itself has nothing to do with funerals. Ravel simply chose this dignified dance form and mood to express his sentiment. Another misconception I had was that it was originally written as an orchestral work. However, in 1887 Fauré played it as a piano work and it was only orchestrated later. Furthermore, I assumed it should be played slowly. When the great conductor, Sir Adrian Boult heard Fauré play it, he remarked that it went no slower than quater note =100. Soon after its world premier by Fauré, his patroness comtesse Greffulhe, financed the work to add an orchestra, dancers and a chorus. She even provided a venue with choreographic space at one of her garden parties. Stravinsky’s choreographer, Diahilev, loved the Pavane by Fauré it so much that he made it a standard part of the Ballet Russes repetoire after he introduced it to the company in 1917. I ordered his music from Paris in the original piano score version. I hope to play it myself at an all French piano concert- time and place to be announced. I will also include piano works by Ravel and Debussy. I will preview a number of selections starting Dec 18th at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca grande, Fl where I will be playing on the Steinway vintage pianos 6 nights a weekly (see events on this website).
A Date With Debussy: As I Record His Music at Glenridge Performing Arts Center- My family put together an incredible birthday present for me. Abe, my oldest son, wanted me to play and record one hour of the piano music of Claude Debussy. That got the ball rolling. I immediately agreed. Preview YouTube video Ohrenstein plays Debussy Arabesque No. 2
SAMPLE THE VIDEO MADE AT THE GLENRDIGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER ON YOUTUBE
MY DEBUSSY PARIS MUSIC CONNECTION
My own piano instructor, Mischa Kottler, asked me when he was 94 years of age to give a concert of French music. That I should show people how I play. Kottler studied on the 1920’s with Alfred Cortot. In turn, Cortot was a contemporary of Debussy. He personally knew him in Paris. Debussy was born August 22, 1862. Cortot, September 26, 1877. I learned Debussy’s craft from Mischa. It uses included the plethora of two note phrases. Also Debussy developed a hidden notation to specify which notes he wanted to emphasize.
PARTICULARS OF THE RECORDING
That got me started on a 4 hour/day regimen of practice. On my birthday, October 24, my daughter Kathryn and her wonderful husband, Jonathan, bought me the session. It was videoed by Mark Palmer.
AT THE GLENRIDGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
My wife, Sharon-Lesley coached me on some tricky rhythms. She the agreed to be the page turner.
My youngest son had a day off. He was the lighting technician and stage assistant. That was after a 4 minute tutorial.
My oldest son, Abe, was the first to insist on one hour of Debussy. He is a marvelous computer technician.
Conclusion: As proud as I am of A Date With Debussy-, I am even prouder of my family coming together to give me the best birthday present of my life. Date of release to be announced. And yes, I am working on piano music for an all French concert. It will include works Ravel and Faure.