CLASSICAL MUSIC

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
At last, the other installment of Ravel's two late piano concertos from the greatest Ravel pianist of our era, here performed in Spain recently during the pandemic. There is some Spanish flavour in the melodic content of this masterpiece.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iz0ZMpl2Bg
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Just a couple of weeks ago, on this same European tour, this pianist performed the Rachmaninoff piano concerto 2 in Paris with a French orchestra.
It is possible for classical musicians to defy the COVID crisis and continue to send out the message of hope through music.
Bravo.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttk2MvpU2UY
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Here is a new music blog site created by a classical violinist, concentrating on the lives and works of the great composers. This man is a long-time performer and broadcaster.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
So we have a real live controversy in the classical musical world, courtesy of famed violinist Pinchas Zukerman, giving a masterclass in New York City.

The sensitive parts of the remarks were that Koreans have no tradition of singing, which hinders their development as violinists. Shocking stuff.


Perhaps Zukerman's trouble with Korean culture stems from his experience in the 1967 Leventritt competition, where (as I recall reading), he was somewhat shaken by the stunning performance of fellow Galamian student Kyung-Wha Chung (of Korea), and was unable to play well, and was eliminated. Then (as I recall reading) Zukerman's friend Isaac Stern (one of the jurors) intervened and persuaded the jury to allow Zukerman to play again, and in the end he and the Korean violinist shared the first prize. Both of them, fellow students of Galamian, went on to great careers.

Actually, Zukerman was trying to make a valid point, that Korean and Asian singers require extensive training to learn the musical traditions of Italian opera, and other European opera.
Yonghoon Lee, currently a world wide opera star, and a professor of classical vocalism at Seoul National University in Korea, has spoken about the difficulties he had of learning the Italian opera traditions. His own breakthrough came as Verdi's Don Carlos, filling in for another tenor, and only learning the role during the rehearsals.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Here is Yonghoon Lee with the great baritone Hvorostovsky in the duet from Don Carlos at the Metropolitan Opera. This role was Lee's lucky role, he replaced another tenor to get his first opera break, in Frankfurt, and he replaced another tenor for the Metropolitan broadcast of the same opera.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
A few of weeks ago another notable performance dedicated to front-line COVID workers, this one in Seoul at the famous Roman Catholic cathedral.
The Moszkowski piece at the 44:45 point is a brilliant waltz, as beautiful a waltz as there is..

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Yonghoon Lee sings many sacred works in recital and concert. He is often accompanied by his wife, a pianist whom he met while studying at the Mannes School of Music in Manhattan.
Here they are in a Christmas classic. The same year as this performance below, I would sing this same piece in a Christmas concert at a senior's home near where I am typing this, and one of the residents was the famed opera singer Jon Vickers. My best performance, I stung the high note at the end and there was resounding applause.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Yonghoon Lee has become the most prominent of the tenors in Trovatore productions at the Metropolitan and the other major opera houses.
Here he is with Anna Netrebko and Hvorostovsky. Although he has a Korean background, he can obviously sing, whatever his "Korean DNA", as Zukerman stated.

 
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NonP

Hall of Fame
Actually, Zukerman was trying to make a valid point, that Korean and Asian singers require extensive training to learn the musical traditions of Italian opera, and other European opera.
Yonghoon Lee, currently a world wide opera star, and a professor of classical vocalism at Seoul National University in Korea, has spoken about the difficulties he had of learning the Italian opera traditions. His own breakthrough came as Verdi's Don Carlos, filling in for another tenor, and only learning the role during the rehearsals.

There's a difference between trying crude ethnic humor with good intentions and "trying to make a valid point." I've dug into this brouhaha after following a Classic FM link on my Android and your fellow grandpa had no point other than demonstrating his cultural ignorance.

I've heard Zukerman live at least 2-3 times and the vet still plays a mean fiddle, but he was clearly in the wrong here and has already offered "a sincere apology." Quit trying to defend the indefensible.

A few of weeks ago another notable performance dedicated to front-line COVID workers, this one in Seoul at the famous Roman Catholic cathedral.
The Moszkowski piece at the 44:45 point is a brilliant waltz, as beautiful a waltz as there is..

The "famous Roman Catholic cathedral" is better known as the Myeongdong Cathedral:


It would've taken you like 5 sec to find that out cuz the YT uploader IDs it in the comments and you've almost certainly set foot in this landmark if you've visited Seoul/SK 3 times like you once told me. You ain't doing much better than your pal Pinchas, Lobb! (Gotta dig your later "[a]lthough he has a Korean background" caveat, too.)

Yonghoon Lee sings many sacred works in recital and concert. He is often accompanied by his wife, a pianist whom he met while studying at the Mannes School of Music in Manhattan.
Here they are in a Christmas classic. The same year as this performance below, I would sing this same piece in a Christmas concert at a senior's home near where I am typing this, and one of the residents was the famed opera singer Jon Vickers. My best performance, I stung the high note at the end and there was resounding applause.

You've told this tale of your caroling in front of Vickers about 1964372 times now. We get it, you've sung for the opera legend and you get to tell everyone about it. Just spare us the nonstop name-dropping.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
There's a difference between trying crude ethnic humor with good intentions and "trying to make a valid point." I've dug into this brouhaha after following a Classic FM link on my Android and your fellow grandpa had no point other than demonstrating his cultural ignorance.

I've heard Zukerman live at least 2-3 times and the vet still plays a mean fiddle, but he was clearly in the wrong here and has already offered "a sincere apology." Quit trying to defend the indefensible.



The "famous Roman Catholic cathedral" is better known as the Myeongdong Cathedral:


It would've taken you like 5 sec to find that out cuz the YT uploader IDs it in the comments and you've almost certainly set foot in this landmark if you've visited Seoul/SK 3 times like you once told me. You ain't doing much better than your pal Pinchas, Lobb! (Gotta dig your later "[a]lthough he has a Korean background" caveat, too.)



You've told this tale of your caroling in front of Vickers about 1964372 times now. We get it, you've sung for the opera legend and you get to tell everyone about it. Just spare us the nonstop name-dropping.
It is impossible to describe my personal musical training and experiences without substantial "name-dropping", the same is true for many musicians. I am surprised that you are surprised, that is fairly standard in the business. How far did you get into classical performance anyway? Or is this alleged "name-dropping" all new to you? You may notice that I mention the names of other prominent musicians who have trained my friends and colleagues.

I am not trying to defend Zukerman, but if you recalibrate his misspoken words and rather arrogant confrontational manner, there is a kernel of reality beneath it all, the cultural differences between Korea and Italy. I do not ascribe any importance to "Korean DNA" (mentioned by Zukerman) as an insuperable barrier to South Korean artists, but extensive training for classical singing is necessary. By now you should have noticed that a number of Korean performers are among my personal favourites. I mentioned above that Zukerman had a problem in competition with Kyung Wha Chung in 1967, and perhaps this well-known episode fueled Zukerman's attitudes expressed here.

Jon Vickers and I were both born in the same small town in northern Saskatchewan, Prince Albert, and our fathers worked together on a special project for the Prince Albert education system. He was my go-to opera star, and he remains the foremost tenor exponent in Fidelio (Beethoven), Die Walkure (Wagner), Parsifal (Wagner), Tristan (Wagner). Not a bad list of achievements for a country boy from the prairies. At the end of his life, our paths crossed again, my wife and I sang Christmas concerts for him during Vickers' last two years. Coincidence or providence?
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Just to clarify the point above, here is the vocal coach/opera singer who helped me to reconstruct my high tenor tones, which resulted in a refurbished late blossoming of my vocal performances.
I had the opportunity to sing a duet with this singer during one practice session, which my wife characterized as "beautiful".
My wife wanted this singer to perform at our wedding, but she was away studying and performing in Germany at the time.
Here she is in the waltz tune from Fledermaus.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Yes, named after the same gentleman, the husband of Queen Victoria. After his death in 1861, the Queen saw to it that place names all over the British Empire bore the name of her departed spouse.

I lived in Prince Albert for about four months, we were only there so that my dad could establish a special education program.

Moved to Regina, which I regard as home.

Jon Vickers had just moved a year earlier from Prince Albert to Toronto to study at the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music. One of his fellow students with whom he performed in opera productions at the school was baritone Robert Goulet.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
They say that all roads lead to Rome. Well, that is where this Prince Albert, Saskatchewan singer ended up in the early sixties, singing in the Rome Opera House under Tullio Serafin, the climactic aria from Beethoven's opera "Fidelio". The role was traditionally sung by a light lyric tenor, such as Patzak, but Vickers demonstrated that a heavy dramatic tenor voice could bring a new dimension to the character.
Vickers redefined the part, and the opera with it.
Live performances always have the edge.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwJzJcNsOM8
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
In 1960, Vickers' debut season at the Metropolitan Opera, and also Birgit Nilsson's debut season, as the lead soprano role, saw their first broadcast from the MET, this performance of Fidelio with Karl Bohm conducting.
History is being made before our ears in this broadcast.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymHJszjSCLE
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Quite a few Asian singers have succeeded in opera, here is an article detailing a few of them, there are several Korean singers in this list.

 

NonP

Hall of Fame
It is impossible to describe my personal musical training and experiences without substantial "name-dropping", the same is true for many musicians. I am surprised that you are surprised, that is fairly standard in the business. How far did you get into classical performance anyway? Or is this alleged "name-dropping" all new to you? You may notice that I mention the names of other prominent musicians who have trained my friends and colleagues.

I am not trying to defend Zuckerman, but if you recalibrate his misspoken words and rather arrogant confrontational manner, there is a kernel of reality beneath it all, the cultural differences between Korea and Italy. I do not ascribe any importance to "Korean DNA" (mentioned by Zuckerman) as an insuperable barrier to South Korean artists, but extensive training for classical singing is necessary. By now you should have noticed that a number of Korean performers are among my personal favourites. I mentioned above that Zuckerman had a problem in competition with Kyung Wha Chung in 1967, and perhaps this well-known episode fueled Zuckerman's attitudes expressed here.

Jon Vickers and I were both born in the same small town in northern Saskatchewan, Prince Albert, and our fathers worked together on a special project for the Prince Albert education system. He was my go-to opera star, and he remains the foremost tenor exponent in Fidelio (Beethoven), Die Walkure (Wagner), Parsifal (Wagner), Tristan (Wagner). Not a bad list of achievements for a country boy from the prairies. At the end of his life, our paths crossed again, my wife and I sang Christmas concerts for him during Vickers' last two years. Coincidence or providence?
That's true for professional musicians who know one another. Your name-dropping usually serves no interest except to make you look good or stroke your ego.

Your constant reminiscences about your erstwhile teacher Downs are annoying but fine, whereas your barely implied association with Vickers is downright laughable as it's clear you two weren't on a first-name basis and probably never even spoke a word to each other. Therein lies the difference which you fail or pretend not to get.

Zukerman's (with no "c") misstep went beyond "misspoken words" about mere cultural barriers. I agree he meant no harm, but you're trying to "recalibrate" a clear wrong when he's already fessed up to it. I suggest you follow his lead.

Chung is one of the few living legends (along with Brendel, Argerich, Midori and Chang) I've never had the privilege of hearing live. Overall I prefer her to Pinchas, but your notion that he holds something of a personal vendetta against her is about as reliable as your dig at Kramer for daring to rank Riggs above one of your hero's main rivals.

They say that all roads lead to Rome. Well, that is where this Prince Albert, Saskatchewan singer ended up in the early sixties, singing in the Rome Opera House under Tullio Serafin, the climactic aria from Beethoven's opera "Fidelio". The role was traditionally sung by a light lyric tenor, such as Patzak, but Vickers demonstrated that a heavy dramatic tenor voice could bring a new dimension to the character.
Vickers redefined the part, and the opera with it.
Live performances always have the edge.

In 1960, Vickers' debut season at the Metropolitan Opera, and also Birgit Nilsson's debut season, as the lead soprano role, saw their first broadcast from the MET, this performance of Fidelio with Karl Bohm conducting.
History is being made before our ears in this broadcast.

Stop misleading the newbies here by passing off your wacky claims as facts. The real reference Fidelio is Klemperer's direction of Vickers, not this one (for one thing Jon's top register isn't as secure here). And while Nilsson's own high notes are practically matchless she doesn't make as believable a Leonore as Christa Ludwig.

That said... your typically ahistorical hyperbole got moi to finally check out Otto's live recording issued by the BBC, and I'm thinking Sena Jurinac might edge out Ludwig as the heroine:


I still wouldn't recommend this over the studio version (kinda surprised that such a renowned recording doesn't have a full-length upload on YT), but for sheer visceral power this may well be the one to get.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Well, having sung twice to someone, as with Vickers, should qualify as a direct contact, at least in a musical sense. And our fathers collaborated to establish the first special education class in the Prince Albert education system, so that is a family connection. William Vickers, Jon's dad, was a school principal. I have talked to some famous performers face-to-face, in post-concert meetings, most notably Ashkenazy. I shook Midori's hand (with a very limp handshake). But sure, my most long-term significant interactions were with my music professors at Western U, a highly regarded piano professor, a central music history professor (Dr. Downs), a major performer whose career just keeps getting better, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, a vocal professor who also taught some famous singers at Western U, some fellow piano students who made superb recordings. Some creative projects involving famous soloists, not all of which came to fruition, such as James Ehnes. All in all, direct contact with some names worth dropping, although I never do that except to illustrate a point. Have heard Kyung Wha Chung live, heard her brother conduct live twice, heard many greats live.

If someone has NOT had contact with some prominent performers or professors, I tend to be cautious about their claims to knowledge.

Yes, I have been paid to perform. That brings a special responsibility.

The 1962 studio Fidelio, was once online in full, now just this famous aria,

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Now, compare Vickers' interpretation of the central Florestan aria above to the standard which prevailed before Vickers.

Here is Julius Patzak, the lyric tenor who owned the Florestan role before Vickers came along.
This understanding of the character is totally different from Vickers, a light lyric sound, a concept of a character ready for the last rites. Furtwangler conducts, and apparently has no problem with the concept.
Vickers transformed this role.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9j6H7nS8Lg
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Jon Vickers also transformed the Aeneas role in Berlioz' "Les Troyens", a role which traditionally was sung by a lyric tenor. Vickers again showed that a heavy dramatic tenor could handle the Aeneas part, and inject a powerful presence into the character.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Just to clarify the point above, here is the vocal coach/opera singer who helped me to reconstruct my high tenor tones, which resulted in a refurbished late blossoming of my vocal performances.
I had the opportunity to sing a duet with this singer during one practice session, which my wife characterized as "beautiful".
My wife wanted this singer to perform at our wedding, but she was away studying and performing in Germany at the time.
Here she is in the waltz tune from Fledermaus.

Well, my vocal coach is still active today, formed a crossover trio with two other opera singers, here performing in Germany, on top of a castle and a rock mountain, not for the queasy.
I actually learned this very composition from her, and my wife and I and some others sang it in a downtown Toronto church, one of my very best singing performances. Great feedback from the audience.
She has also recently sung a solo with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, a group which I have done some work with.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Here is another work which I learned from our vocal coach, and with the reconstruction of my high notes, I was able to sing this and nail the high note at the end in live performance.

In this performance, my vocal coach sings the high notes at the end, going even higher than I could reach.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The Pandemic has seen some live performances survive, such as this live opera version of Aida from last season. This tenor, Younghoon Lee, is now the go-to Verdi/Puccini tenor in the world's principal opera houses. Great in full screen.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Yonghoon Lee is a singing miracle. In spring of 2008, when his career was just getting nicely going, his vocal chords ruptured during a performance, and he was unable to sing or speak. The specialists recommended immediate surgery, but he declined, and returned to Korea. He attended a local prayer house in Seoul, and prayed for a divine healing, which apparently happened. Although there is still a sign of injury on his vocal chords, he can now sing in spectacular form. We heard him sing in Toronto in the fall of 2008, he was seemingly fully recovered.

Here he is in New York City, accompanied by his wife.

 
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threehandedbackhand

Hall of Fame
The Pandemic has seen some live performances survive, such as this live opera version of Aida from last season. This tenor, Younghoon Lee, is now the go-to Verdi/Puccini tenor in the world's principal opera houses. Great in full screen.

I love that aria, this is truly a great masterpiece from Verdi, especially the part between 4:12 and 5:40 in above recording.

However I wouldn't find this recording as outstanding. Much more prefer Corelli
or Bergonzi style
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
I love that aria, this is truly a great masterpiece from Verdi, especially the part between 4:12 and 5:40 in above recording.

However I wouldn't find this recording as outstanding. Much more prefer Corelli
or Bergonzi style
Yonghoon Lee, the top Verdi tenor of today, is a huge admirer of Corelli, and seems to pattern his style and technique after Corelli.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Lee has also sung some Chopin, a composer whose melodies were influenced by the Italian bel canto opera composers, such as Bellini.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
One of the greatest recorded versions of the Chopin Etudes was made by Janina Fialkowska, Artur Rubenstein's favourite student. My wife and I met her some years ago after a concert in London, Ontario, and she was very friendly.
https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0hoN6_HDVU
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
My music history professor, Dr. Philip Downs, once pointed out that Chopin, a great admirer of Bach, was apparently inspired by Bach to compose an expanded version of the WTC Prelude No. 1.
Of course, the Chopin version is greatly expanded in terms of keyboard coverage and technical difficulty, but the basic structure is clearly audible.

The Bach version,

And here is Chopin's variation of the Bach prelude, the Etude No. 1.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Similarly, Chopin's Etude No. 2 Op. 10 appears to be strongly inspired by the Bach WCT I Prelude in D major.

Both works are an improvisatory style "perpetuum mobile", or perpetual motion, composition. Both contain the left-hand "clock" pendulum accompaniment to the free-ranging arpeggiated right hand.

I performed the Bach prelude and fugue for this work live in front of a rather substantial audience at Western University in 1970, and managed to avoid hitting any wrong notes. The week before the performance, I listened to this recording by Gould, which caused me to increase the tempo of my own performance. That performance was recorded by my piano professor together with other works I chose by Bartok. The recording reviews are already "in", as they say, a major success.


And here is the Chopin Etude No. 2 Op. 10, clearly inspired by the Bach prelude above. Again, Jan Lisiecki,

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
My wife and I managed to hear Kyung Wha Chung perform live in 2020 just one week before live concerts were shut down due to the pandemic.

Here she is with a family performance, partnered by her own sister on the cello, in a live performance with the great Rudolf Kempe conducting, the Brahms Double Concerto. 1973.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
And not to forget Zukerman, who famously competed against Chung in the 1967 Leventritt Competition, here is Zukerman and his Canadian wife performing the same Brahms concerto. This concerto appears to be a family affair.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The waltz to end all waltzes, Ravel's "La Valse", composed after WWI to depict the fatalistic collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the waltz whipping up into a furious and frenzied collapse at the end. Including here the same pianist who performed the Ravel concerto at the top of this page.

 
I give it two out of four.
I'll give your tin ear 0 out of 4.....then again, taking the predictable, knee-jerk "classical music snobbery syndrome" into consideration I'll give your ear-challenged musical sensibilities a 1 out of 4 instead........btw, you DO know the pianist on the right is do you not? Leopold Stokowski, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Vladdy Horowitz among other classical "in-the-knows" sure as hell knew him...lol...
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
I'll give your tin ear 0 out of 4.....then again, taking the predictable, knee-jerk "classical music snobbery syndrome" into consideration I'll give your ear-challenged musical sensibilities a 1 out of 4 instead........btw, you DO know the pianist on the right is do you not? Leopold Stokowski, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Vladdy Horowitz among other classical "in-the-knows" sure as hell knew him...lol...
I am certain that I would recognize his name, although not his photo. I might give your group a 3 out of 4.
But I do draw a distinction between Classical and Jazz. Certainly, much classical music of the last hundred years was influenced by jazz.
Listen to the third movement of this work by Stravinsky, a jazz improvisation.

 
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threehandedbackhand

Hall of Fame
Stravinsky and Bartok...

Personally I can't stand the most of contemporary classical music, I mean the second half of 20th century and newer.
Maybe it's a bold statement, but something definitely died with Rachmaninov and Sibelius.

I observe plenty of classical music lovers share my feelings.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Stravinsky and Bartok...

Personally I can't stand the most of contemporary classical music, I mean the second half of 20th century and newer.
Maybe it's a bold statement, but something definitely died with Rachmaninov and Sibelius.

I observe plenty of classical music lovers share my feelings.
I partially agree with you, although I can relate to many neo-classical composers, such as Ravel, Bartok, Stravinsky, Copland, Prokofiev, Vaughan Williams, Walton, others.
 

threehandedbackhand

Hall of Fame
One of the greatest piano contests in the world, held every five years since 1955.
Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

18th International Chopin Piano Competition
October 2nd to 23rd 2021
Warsaw
 
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