Favorite piano works: Bach’s Goldberg Variation #1

I’ve recently been discovering more wonderful classical piano; last year sometime it was Chopin, then it was Mozart, now it’s Bach. (I think Beethoven will be next, thanks to Glenn Gould and Andrร s Schiff.)

The most recent incarnation of BMG, where I bought my first cds back in middle school, closed at the end of June. They gave members several weeks’ warning and deals leading right up to the end, so I decided to take advantage. I’ve never known them to carry much in the way of indie rock or folk music; and I certainly wouldn’t get my Keren Ann or Carla Bruni fix there. But they usually have a decent enough variety of classical music, so I browsed through their whole classical section, period by period–Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern. I found quite a lot that I’d recommend readily (links go to their Amazon product pages, since yourmusic.com is no more):

Finally, the most recent album to arrive, there is Dong Hyek Lim’s performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I gather from reviews that piano enthusiasts believe a pianist should be a good bit older than Lim is before he attempts the Goldberg Variations (he is not even a year older than me and recorded this work some three years ago).

As far as I can tell, youth did him no harm in this album; his playing is clean, breezy, and great fun to listen to. My favorite variation (youtube below) is the first one, which climbs, runs, and skips, always almost tripping over itself in its exuberance. It’s one of those pieces that gives you the impression that you are actually watching the notes dance over the piano as it plays, like little lightning bugs flashing in the air. It is like Debussy’s Arabesque #1 in that way, and this leaves me torn: now I don’t know which one I love more!

Here it is (the cd version has better editing and feels fuller, but this is still lovely, especially if you close your eyes and just listen). Please, enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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For love of music and good deals

I love holiday pricing, especially since the internet lets me buy stuff without taking hours to shop around or fighting crowds at busy stores.

I also love Barnes & Noble’s Christmas membership deal: I got a free 2-month trial membership starting in late November, which gives me free express shipping with no minimum order. Mwe-he-he. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t want to sound like a B&N ad, but they got the losing end of that deal in my case; I have ordered several items one at a time, each of which cost less than $15, and on all (or on all but one) of which I managed to use a one-item coupon (25-40% off each item). …Well, maybe they got the losing end. I have to admit that I’m tempted to renew the membership.

The first few were Christmas gifts – a couple of books for my brothers and an album of Telemann for my mom. But I just got an email coupon (25% off) that was good this weekend and found a different coupon for the same deal on a cashback website. Three discs of classical piano, coming right up! I ordered a 2-disc set of Chopin preludes & nocturnes performed by Garrick Ohlsson and a disc of three Mozart sonatas (including the famous K.331, which I wrote about earlier) from pianist Murray Perahia. I considered getting an 11-disc set of Rubinstein performing Chopin (instead of the Ohlsson), but I’ll wait and see if B&N sends me a 30%- or 40%-off coupon in the next few weeks.

I may have also ordered a few guilty pleasures through Amazon (Jewel, Dido, Edwin McCain), plus Telemann’s Darmstadt Overtures (mmm) and yet another video game (Star Ocean III, though I don’t have II, so I’ll be jumping around the series).

Here’s Ohlsson playing Chopin’s Prelude in C sharp minor, Opus 45:

Oh yeah, and happy New Year!

Piano for Friday: Prelude no 2 in C minor (Bach)

It’s been some time since I last made a Friday piano post – too long. So here is a favorite of mine that I can’t quite believe I haven’t shared yet: a prelude from Book 1 of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, here performed by Daniel Ben Pienaar. It’s a lovely, lively, fast little piece, and it dances a frenzy around my ears so I can almost see the notes bouncing in the air. (I almost said frolicking.)

Unfortunately, WordPress won’t let me embed the song (although Magnatune now has code to let you embed albums, WP still won’t allow the code in posts). So, you’ll just have to click and download to play in your media player.

Prelude No. 2 in C Minor (J.S. Bach) – Daniel Ben Pienaar

Now, you might wonder why I am posting only the prelude, when the prelude is immediately followed by a fugue. I’m glad you asked. ๐Ÿ˜› I first became familiar with this piece when I followed the command of my brother and watched 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould. (An entrancing art film which I highly recommend – if you can manage to find a copy. The DVD sells for a minimum of $150 used on Amazon; my college just happened to have it – a music professor had bought and donated it when it was first released, and my brother found it in the library catalog. He got pretty excited.)

The ‘short film’ featuring Prelude No. 2 is one of my two favorites – and that’s facing some tough competition. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s called CD318, and here ’tis: