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CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

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CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby Grawnque » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:59 pm

I wrote this concerto for a friend who does not perform due to health issues - but why shouldn't she have fun at home? I've always liked programmatic music, and I based this on some wonderful vacation spots that travelers ought to visit - not one of which I've ever actually seen myself. I had to post this using sound files as opposed to Notion files because Notion does not include a choir in its library. (Or an organ, for that matter. Grumble, grumble, grumble...) The choir is midi from Cakewalk and mixed with what I got from Notion using Vegas

I - Italy
http://www.box.net/shared/17ue6faomj
Two basic themes here, in a traditional sonata-allegro form. Theme 1 is a tarantella, because as all Americans know, all Italians dance the tarantella every night. Theme 2 is something that might have been heard in Ancient Rome as the legions marched by in a triumph; we know how Roman music sounded because we have so many of their movies...

Yes, you're right - this movement isn't meant to be taken seriously. Note the uncomfortable pause when the pianist and the orchestra have managed to play themselves into a corner. On stage the pianist and conductor would stare at each other for a moment and then shrug and continue playing. (In my mind, this is hilarious.) And no, I'm not worried that any Italian listening will be offended, because if the people living south of the Alps didn't have a sense of humor, they could have never produced anyone like Giovanni Guareschi. I have never fallen in love with Italy, but the moment I can scrape together the price of an airline ticket, I mean to do so.

II - Undersea
http://www.box.net/shared/pb50y1tl80
In the Fiji Islands is an undersea resort that boasts three man Poseidon submarines that can be checked out to explore their 5,000 acre lagoon. To describe it I used a rondo, with A acting as the promenade in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. B, C and D are based upon the fish swimming about, the coral reef itself, with architectures found only in nature, and an mysterious underwater cave suitable for skin diving. (And at $15,000/week/person, it's a guarantee I've never seen this one!)

Some of this one is very quiet, so you will likely want to turn your speakers up a bit.

III - Middle East
http://www.box.net/shared/onzox2x2hl
Ah, yes! The Middle East with its back alleys, its markets, and its music which is totally different from anything here in the west. Any further explanation would ruin it.

IV - Glacier
http://www.box.net/shared/6zpvmr26vc
The last movement was inspired by a visit our pianist made to Mendenhall Glacier, in Juneau Alaska. While everybody else was playing tourist and calling to the glacier for the echoes, she borrowed some Ice skates and went skating. It sounds crazy, I know, but A) completely sane people never accomplish anything in life, and B) unlike other glaciers that look like large fields of snow, Mendenhall Glacier looks more like something out of your freezer - remarkably clear ice.

The form is that of a Viennese Waltz in minor - earning it, in my mind, the nickname Lawrence Welk's Nightmare. Near the end it describes the skater singing to the glacier, and the glacier singing back, due to resonances in the ice. (I really wish I could have been there to hear that!) And finally a big finish for our skater and pianist.
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby fabiolcati » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:08 pm

Hi Grawnque.
My desktop computer is on leave for RAM improvement so I'm not yet able to listen to your Concerto, but really enjoyed your funny liner notes on Italy!
How do you know about Giovanni Guareschi?
Collect money for the ticket and come to Italy: we wait for you.
Arrivederci.
Fabio
Arrigo Beyle - Milanese - Lived, wrote, loved - - Stendhal
Being italian is a full-time job - - B. Severgnini
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby Grawnque » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:03 pm

Ah yes! The eternal conflict between having a good computer and just trying the get the @#&@*@&!!! thing to work! Trust me, I do understand!

I discovered some of Guareschi's books in my grandparents' home and read them. When my grandmother passed on and the family was dividing her possessions - the only other option being to sell everything and divide the money, and we were more interested in their memory than their money - I asked for those books. Someday I'll have to collect the rest and the movies that were made starring Fernandel (with subtitles). I would have thought somebody physically bigger would have been good, but the little I've seen suggest he was a good choice.
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby jonknowles8 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:05 am

Hi Grawnque,

That certainly is an unusual piano concerto - very nice to write it for a friend.

Speaking of Mahler (on the other thread), how about those falling fourths / cuckoo calls in your fourth movement (Mahler's First)?!

There are some nice themes in the piece, esp in movements 2 and 4. As to the choir/chorus, it sounds better at about 7:00 than about 2:00 in movement 2, IMO, but as you say, it's not really there yet, the choir sound. (I would like to write for voices but want to wait till decent choirs sounds come out. Of course one can always write for a chorus and try to have it performed...)

Have you studied orchestration much? As I say, I'm just learning - and am about to get some feedback from my former composition teacher. I went through the online course by Rimsky-Korsakov, read Tchaikovsky's little book, and one other (Blatter I think is the author); but there sure is a lot of trial and error to get blends right and since any program like Notion is an approximation, that complicates it even more.

Jon
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby Grawnque » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:18 pm

I can't say as I've ever studied orchestration beyond having heard the results of the big boys and knowing what I thought worked. I didn't know Rimsky-Korsakov's work had been put online, so I'll have to go look for it.

There are some decent Choir VST's out there, but I haven't gotten any of them yet. But that's life right now - just loaded with someday's!

And thanks for the observations. This is precisely the reason I wanted to put it out here: Friends you know are so busy not hurting your feelings you can't get any valid input from them!
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby fabiolcati » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:10 pm

Hi Grawnque.

we were more interested in their memory than their money

You are very good and wise people.
The further question is: how those books found its way in your grandparents house?
It is not as common to have it even on italian bookshelves.

And now for something completely different.

The laptop I'm using to type this post it doesn't offer proper conditions to listen to your concerto.
I only had a petit essay from Italy (I still wonder why I started with it. Maybe I was fooled from being it numbered as "1" amongst movements) and found it amusing.
It seems to me that the piano doesn't plays a big role as a soloist.
I need to go back to it when I'll be able to spread the full power of my desktop, one or two days from now.

I found interesting commenting on descending fourths.
I can testimony that this watermark, together with Naturlaut, tends to be - in a more or less unconsciuos way - plugged into the music of every Mahlerian who somposes on his own.

Arrivederci
Fabio
Arrigo Beyle - Milanese - Lived, wrote, loved - - Stendhal
Being italian is a full-time job - - B. Severgnini
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby Grawnque » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:52 pm

My grandparents were quite the travelers, but there was also a time when he Don Camillo stories were rather popular over here. Sadly, since that time, education in general has suffered here, and much has been forgotten. I am old enough to remember the 60's and the cold war period, and I remember reading of the effects it had on different areas of Europe. Sometimes I wonder which is sadder, that I can't tell some of the jokes and stories from that time to the kids coming up today, or that most of them don't want to hear them anyway.

I would think you probably started off with Italy because A) you would have a natural interest in hearing what I did with it, and B) the number I at the beginning of the title. It is the first movement, after all. Thinking about it, I did use the piano in a sort of call/response/together sort of way, but that wasn't accidental, being I wrote it for somebody who might be tired more easily than the usual concert pianist.

I do understand how much difference your equipment can make to hearing something, so I sympathize with having to wait for your desktop. I would imagine that Wagner would have wished he had that situation when one of our own humorists of the day, Mark Twain commented about his music, It's not as bad as it sounds... But I'm willing to wait to see what you think when you can hear it properly.
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Re: CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN A MINOR (Vacation)

Postby Grawnque » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:37 pm

Quick note - Ihave removed the Third movement as I can nobody - including and particularly the person from whom I wrote it - who likes it. I can see why - it's so different from the rest that it's rather jarring. So a new one will now be written, and we'll see if it's any improvement!
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