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Piano's Book of Mormon

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Posted on Jun 14, 2012 1:14:38 PM PDT
MacDoom says:
Except for the post by M.R. Simpson, Schumann seems to be woefully overlooked here. For me, he's on an equal footing with Chopin for his piano output.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 2:58:40 PM PDT
Edgar Self says:
Messiaen is WAY too Roman Catholic for the Book of Mormon, and vice-versa.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012 3:07:49 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 14, 2012 5:14:44 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 14, 2012 4:40:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 14, 2012 6:12:52 PM PDT
I think it has to be Debussy; probably the Préludes. For early post-war avant-garde I'd say the wholly book would be Boulez' second sonata or maybe the Stockhausen pieces for piano (even though I like him much less I can uderstand that he is important). Moving forward in time I don´t see anything close to a wholly book, in terms of quality or influence, but maybe the closest thing would be Ligeti's etudes (because they're good, not because they're influencial).


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 7:41:39 PM PDT
John Ruggeri says:

What thing or kinds of things make piano literature Book of Mormonish? I am clueless and it is not
this time for lack of GERITOL or CAFFEINE. I want to play also but do not know the Game's Rules.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 7:54:01 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 14, 2012 7:54:23 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 9:06:11 PM PDT
Ken, yes, the Goldbergs was written 'for a harpsichord with two manuals'. Maria Tipo wrote a brief explanation---noting that when both hands are playing a passage in the same octave, that's not a problem when you have two keyboards. You simply play one hand on one keyboard and the other hand on the other.

But the piano has only one keyboard---so, Tipo says, to play those passages on the piano, you have to work out fingering and hand positions permitting overlap in the same octave, and you have to figure out how to re-strike a note that has just been played without ending the sonority you got with the first strike. Tipo says this calls for special fingering and for use of the third pedal.

I watched Dinnerstein play the Goldbergs, and I saw that in these passages she had one hand very close to the backboard, and the other hand out near the free end of the keys. In this way, I think, she was able to maintain articulation and clarity. I don't know if she also used the piano's third pedal.

So: My nonmusician mind thinks that this doesn't qualify as a transcription, but as a way to play a two-keyboard work on an instrument with only one keyboard.

That so many pianists have managed to play the Goldbergs on the piano suggests that it's workable---and not a transcription.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 9:13:38 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Thanks Angelo!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 9:18:10 PM PDT
Charles mentions Vingt Regards and the Debussy Preludes, Agreed, and I would suggest adding the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues.

As to which holy text to line all these works (and others mentioned in this thread) up with, I haven't a clue.

Truth to tell, I never did quite understand what von Bulow meant with his analogy. I suspect I could look it up in Wiki---but I think it has to do with what the musical establishment thought of the WTC in von Bulow's day---which was the height of the romantic movement, particularly in music for the piano. Possibly von Bulow was trying to get some respect for Bach.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 10:35:57 PM PDT

Regarding the analogy with the book of Mormon, it is simply a temporal thing. The Old Testament is the earliest (well-known) holy tract in Western religion. Bach's WTC provided a kind of firmament to keyboard literature that arguably did not exist before. The New Testament was build upon (or maybe near) the Old Testament in analogy to Beethoven's Sonatas, being built upon some of the ideas Bach presented in his keyboard literature. In Western Religion, the only largish holy tract I can think of that came after the New Testament is the Book of Mormon. In the piano literature, it seems to me that Prokofiev really took that next step. I hope that is clear. I didn't really mean to seek anything religious in the music. I always think of Bach being a pragmatic believer and Beethoven being a reluctant and perhaps spiteful believer. I think Beethoven's music reflects more of a struggle with God rather than a relationship with Him. That's simply an impression. I had no idea what Prokofiev's beliefs were, but someone said Christian Scientist. I don't know if they were joking or not.

There are no rules to this 'game'. We are just shooting the bull.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 10:43:44 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Saith Wiki, in the early 1930s Prokofiev "began to practice the religion and teachings of Christian Science, to which, according to biographer Simon Morrison, he remained faithful for the rest of his life."

Beethoven seemed to grow more religious, in the orthodox sense, in his later years. This in spite of the various mystical quotes in his daybook. He had never been a reluctant believer, at least per what I've read.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 5:26:28 AM PDT
Ken, that reminds me that a few months ago I saw Frederic Chiu play the Liszt transcription of Beethoven's fifth symphony at a recital in Providence. It was, I'm sure, my first-ever live experience with that transcription. Nor had I heard a recording. (I still haven't.)

I thought Liszt uncanny in his ability to make the score sound like, well, Beethoven piano music. Not so much like a reduction of the orchestral score. If memory serves, in his transcription Liszt didn't try the "usual" things you find in piano reductions to suggest long-held string notes: e.g tremolo. The result: Beethoven/Liszt did not sound like a piano accompaniment to a silent film. I went to the recital prepared not to like the Liszt, and I came away with a lot of respect for his work.

Frederic Chiu has technique to burn, by the way, and is well worth going to hear.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 6:28:35 AM PDT
scarecrow says:
Well a contemporary composer should write a Book of Music or a collection by different composers on the spirit, a spiritual book of music;
there seems to be little of this music, or it is transubstantiated(changed) into secular things;

I have written "spirituals" for the piano based on images of people's faith;the intensity of faith of what you believe in. . . .

John Zorn has this as Steve Reich with Hebraic texts; Terry Riley, and Ben Johnston was a very spiritual composer;

Sally Mann the photographer, her "Deep South" has a spirituality about it, hovering around in it;

Messiaen was almost like an illustrator for St.Paul, the institutionalization of religion, He'd be my last choice for this subject;His music is ,like elaborate Holy Cards. . .

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 6:59:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 7:04:30 AM PDT
Scarecrow, my own experience with Messiaen is that if you take away his descriptive titles, his music becomes abstract, like any other music. It's the titles, and it's knowing about his Catholicism, that, IMHO, leads us to think that his music has an ecclesiastical aura. Not the music itself, though. I don't believe I hear any of that in the music itself.

I would maintain and claim that, absent those titles, Messiaen's music is abstract.

The secret is: Don't look at the titles. They will lead you astray every time.

Actually, I'd also maintain and claim that music is not---and cannot be---specific. If we hear the baby in his bath, it's because Strauss wrote it out in words to be read alongside his music. IMHO that's not art, that's artifice, commerce, ersatz. Music is better than that. St Paul was an interesting man, but he won't show up in Messiaen unless you put him there.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 7:10:14 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:11:01 AM PST]

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 7:28:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 7:32:33 AM PDT
Strauss too, March. Remember the two larks in Im Abendrot? I tear up every time. At the very end, in the postlude after the text ends, they're still there, Richard and Pauline, still alive, wondering what death will be like. And still: We know they're larks because at the words "two larks" in the sung text, Strauss signals them in the flutes. And we know what they're thinking because the text tells us. It's very moving, maybe my favorite Strauss, but we do have, and need, the sung text to get the idea. Those larks aren't absolute music.

Copying birdsong (or thunderstorms) is one thing. Claiming to express, say, transubstantiation, or the divinity of Jesus, is another. And even there I don't think Messiaen was trying to do that. I think he was trying to express how he reacts to those doctrines. But, absent his titles, we'd have no way of knowing that. I think Scarecrow had a different view, and that's what I was reacting to. And I'm not trying to be directive. It's just me ranting because I think music is abstract.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 7:30:22 AM PDT
John Spinks says:
Super said
<<There are no rules to this 'game'. We are just shooting the bull.>>

I love these threads. I just hope the bull doesn't mind being shot. I would almost put the body of Scarlatti sonatas out there as a possibility, but they could in no way replace Bach's WTC or Goldbergs. Maybe third place, though.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 9:15:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 9:16:25 AM PDT
After I saw Vingt Regards listed, I thought The People United... but that immediately brought to mind Rzewski's The Road as a better choice. Got to know some of it here -- Rzewski Plays Rzewski: Piano Works 1975-1999 -- and the rest of it here --,_Frederic)

Part 1: Turns (Miles 1-8)
Part 2: Tracks (Miles 9-16)
Part 3: Tramps (Miles 17-24)
Part 4: Stops (Miles 25-32)
Part 5: A Few Knocks (Miles 33-40)
Part 6: Traveling with Children (Miles 41-48)
Part 7: Final Preparations (Miles 49-56, Epilogue)
Part 8: The Big Day Arrives (Miles 57-63)

The review of the recording makes the comparison for us: "Prolific in many genres, Rzewski's largest-scale work to date was a two-hour oratorio The Triumph of Death (1987-8), now capped in duration by the eight-hour collection of piano pieces, The Road. Those however he regards as music for home consumption, unconstrained by concert convention, to be savoured at will, in the tradition of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words and Bach's '48', neither envisaged for concert performance."

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 9:35:59 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:11:01 AM PST]

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 9:52:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 9:52:53 AM PDT
Glad you're intrigued, ME. True to his form, all the scores and the unrecorded latter half of The Road can be found on IMSLP.

And, just came across this -- -- which is sending me back to IMSLP to look for the newer works the article mentions such as War Songs.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 12:16:14 PM PDT
This topic immediately caught my eye having studied both the Bible and Book of Mormon for the past 40+ years. I know a whole lot more about scripture than music having no musical training but the comparison of Bach's WTC to the OT of keyboard music and Beethoven's Sonatas to the NT would seem to be apt. The Book of Mormon I have no idea. I am not familiar with the Prokofiev works, which I am guessing are quite a departure from Beethoven & Bach, and the Book of Mormon is really no departure from Biblical scripture, which is apparent if one is familiar with both books, so I am not sure if Prokofiev is an apt comparison to the Book of Mormon or not. I am not sure what would compare. I would be inclined to say the Nocturnes, Preludes & Etudes of Chopin which would be about equivalent to the WTC and the Sonatas in terms of sheer volume and quality and not a too radical departure from the past. I could be wrong. Again I am not familiar with Prokofiev's solo piano works.

I think maybe the comparison of the WTC to the whole OT is a bit broad. Maybe comparing it to the Torah would be more appropriate (The First 5 Books). Maybe Beethoven's Sonatas are more appropriately compared to the OT prophets (Isaiah, Ezekial, Jeremiah etc). Chopin to me is the gospel of the keyboard so his works would be compared to the four gospels Matt, Mark, Luke, and John. Rachmaninoff is the Acts of the Apostles carrying on the work set forth by the masters of the Romantic period without much of a departure. Lizst is the Epistles of Paul the great missionary, Lizst was the great touring performer spreading music throughout the continent. Debussy was the future so he is the Revelation of John. The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture originating in the Americas so it would be a combination of new world composers and I have no idea who they would be. I couldn't name more than a handful of quality piano works composed by New World composers, there is probably plenty, but I just don't know what it is. Schumann is the other great keyboard composer who should have a niche somewhere here but I don't where it would be.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 2:10:24 PM PDT
John Ruggeri says:
superhugefatass says:

There are no rules to this 'game'. We are just shooting the bull.

Thanks for the info.


Posted on Jun 15, 2012 2:13:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 2:13:26 PM PDT
Further endorsement of Rzewski: The NYTimes article defends his habit of performing Beethoven sonatas with improvised cadenzas. The second link here has his Appassionata doing just that --,_Op.57_(Beethoven,_Ludwig_van) -- and I just ran errands while giving it a listen. Commentary below the link accounts for missed notes, but the overall result is most refreshing. There are addistions to each movement and the sum of parts is pretty astonishing.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 2:17:57 PM PDT
John Ruggeri says:
Franz Liszt would be a an excellent 19th century Roman Catholic composer for the piano. He even took some sort
of vows. He must have had the fear of God in him to compose this doom and gloom great piece performed in a
Hellish fashion by Michelangeli. At times it sounds like "Flash Gordon in Hades".

Liszt Totentanz - Michelangeli PART 1
Rafael Kubelik with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della Radiotelevisione Italiana. Recording made live 28 of april 1961 in the Auditorium from RAI in Torino.

Liszt Totentanz - Michelangeli PART 2

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 2:25:55 PM PDT

I don't know much Liszt, but I love Totentanz with its continuous repeats of Dies Irae. I don't know why I like the Dies Irae motif so much, but it just sounds so perfectly wrathful... It's one of the few common musical motifs that sounds like it should to me.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  20
Total posts:  52
Initial post:  Jun 13, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 15, 2012

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