Saturday, October 31, 2015

№ 226. Percussive Halloween

I've been banging the piano for close to thirty-three years now. The piano is an old analog instrument and is considered as both percussion and string. Because of its age and unique mechanism, it offers an unparalleled range of repertoire and performance options. Perhaps this is the reason why it's called the king of instruments despite its many demands and, yes, limitations.

Last Thursday, I watched a piano recital at the Abelardo Hall. It was an academic requirement for the performer's Masters Degree in Music Performance. The recital exposed me to a side of classical music which I did not realize included pieces showcasing the piano in very unconventional, almost theatrical staging.

Halloween treat after office: free Abelardo recital

For example, although the program began quite tamely and traditionally, the middle part became almost an unplugged concert of sorts. The recital began with Bach's Partita and then segued into Schumann's Sonata No. 19 in C minor. Conventional enough.

Then, the intermission woke us up.

It became a lot louder and more, for lack of an adjective, interesting with the performance of Jeffrey Ching's Miniklavier Sonata for Piano. The pianist opened the piece by banging at the keys with his forearms, then his chin, then somewhere in mid-section, his forehead and his fists. Towards the end, the student broke off two chopsticks and struck the strings like a xylophone. The effect was more percussive than melodic. Modern. Almost rock!

By the time he performed Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor, the piano, however, was ill with the muscular performance. Schumann's high register was a bit off key and sounded well-worn. A friend who teaches Music Literature and who is a pianist himself was unhappy with the shabby treatment the piano got.

Meanwhile, on top of a Newcastle, Australia hotel, a drummer whiled his time performing the Beatles.


"Kye Smith, a drummer based in Newcastle, Australia, recently hauled his drum kit to a nearby rooftop (an homage to The Beatles’ 1969 rooftop gig?) and started banging out a pretty wonderful tribute to Ringo Starr, playing drum parts from 71 Beatles songs in 5 quick minutes. Smith moves chronologically, playing the songs in the order they were released (not recorded). We start in 1962, move through 1969, and even momentarily visit 1995."

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