Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Arthur Rubenstein in de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance"

Click on title for performance.  Amor Brujo is a ballet composed by Falla.  He later composed this piano suite based on the themes in the larger work.

The orchestral piece can be heard here!

15 comments:

  1. It's great to watch Rubinstein play. I think it's a fine example of physical gesture corresponding with musical gesture (despite the sound and video being slightly out of sync)--such freedom, both physically and musically.

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  2. Here is a fine recording of one of the Spanish Dances by Granados for the piano.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Vv9m79IPw

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  3. Michael, thank you for the Granados/Alicia d L. link. Gorgeous piece. She plays with such clarity, balance and that feathery touch!

    She was primarily responsible for making this repertoire better known. She did that in the sixties. I'd say we may still need her to get out the word.

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  4. Rubinstein is such a genius (one of my favorite pianists, for sure). It is amazing how with a simple trill he can create the sound effect of a crackling fire, it seems like anytime suddenly a fire spark will come out of the piano!

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  5. I read a comment that compare’s this piece to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. I can hear the natural comparison, but I think the broad scope of the music seems almost more like Stravinsky’s Firebird. The steady bass line brings out the folk-dance basis for the music, and then the expansion away from the original idea is quite exciting.

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  6. Holy moly that trill is so expressive! Here we are seeing a level of pictorialism that makes me think of Schubert's water themes. I'm also hearing a lot of really interesting rhythmic juxtapositions. The rhythm played in the lower hand in the piano at the beginning is very reminicent of tango and habanera, and then at about 1:10 or so we hear this very straight and almost bouncy rhythmic pattern in the piano that makes me think of Stravinsky ballet. It's a really interesting blend of different dance traditions.

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  7. The Ritual Fire Dance has always been one of my favorite compositions by de Falla. My main experience with de Falla is a solo piano piece called Fantasia Baetica which I programmed on my last solo recital--a monster of a piece that was incidentally written for Rubinstein to play.

    It's amusing to see how high Rubinstein's hands come off the piano to perform this piece.

    If I ever attempt another solo piano piece of de Falla's, it would probably be this transcription of the Ritual Fire Dance. I just love the energy of the music. Aside from the rather passionate and virtuosic sounding texture, the melodic material comes off as sounding rather simple.

    For those interested, here is a link to Fantasia Baetica as performed by Alicia de Larrocha, a major champion of this piece and perhaps de Falla's music in general: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNwwwNnYziA

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  8. I really like Rubinstein's tone in this piece. It is vertical and full of bite but it doesn't sound too harsh. I also like his trills a lot. And his voicing is amazing!

    It's fun to watch Rubinstein's hands flying off the piano!

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  9. Didn't Rubinstein brag about never breaking a sweat while performing? I'm not so sure about that with this performance. I always love Rubinstein's playing, and the energy of this performance is electric, so much Duende. I wonder though, if he plays it with a more Slavic than a Spanish feeling. I'll have to listen to other performances.

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  10. What a powerful piece. I love how incredibly expressive the conductor is and he certainly commands his orchestra. He deeply embodies the music and really feel him conjuring up the images with the movement of the baton.

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  11. I love the way the melodic line plays tricks on the listener harmonically. The opening phrase, which repeats at the close of the song ends with a very unexpected note and the final note comes too soon. I feel like I am expecting the phrase to take a turn but then ends up on a detour that I would not have guessed.

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  12. This piece is one that I was familiar with before listening that I can now put title to! I love this piece and the way it incorporates the folk style and characterizations of Spanish folk music into the setting of an orchestra. Here the ornamentation that is prevalent in the vocal lines of the previous pieces is found in the melodic lines of the various instruments.

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  13. One of the things I love about Spanish music are the the fast notes that are almost everywhere. When done correctly they can really add to the emotions the composer is trying to depict in a certain section of music. This piece is a work of art. There is so much excitement throughout this piece especially in the final part of the piece. Falla took the same chord and played it multiple times putting rests where I was expecting they would play and playing where I thought there would be a rest.

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  14. It always amazes me how many different versions there are of this piece. Rubinstein's rendition, undoubtedly a reworking by Falla himself, is certainly one of the flashes. But one of the things that makes Falla's music so interesting is the forward looking harmonies and subtle inner lines that really can only be heard in the orchestral original. I know that this piece is a prime example of unique Spanish flavors, but it's hard for me to be objective about it. I have heard it played hundreds of times with different combinations of instruments, 90% of them badly. Unfortunately, this is one of the pieces that so feed into the cliché of Spanish sounding music.

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  15. It always amazes me how many different versions there are of this piece. Rubinstein's rendition, undoubtedly a reworking by Falla himself, is certainly one of the flashes. But one of the things that makes Falla's music so interesting is the forward looking harmonies and subtle inner lines that really can only be heard in the orchestral original. I know that this piece is a prime example of unique Spanish flavors, but it's hard for me to be objective about it. I have heard it played hundreds of times with different combinations of instruments, 90% of them badly. Unfortunately, this is one of the pieces that so feed into the cliché of Spanish sounding music.

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