Welcome to my Musical Treats Blog

Hello dear blog visitors.  Welcome to my blog Musical Treats.  Here you will find posts featuring well known classical and jazz musicians, composers known and not very well known, and performances and recordings of extraordinary musicians that are known and not very well known.  I hope that you will find the posts interesting and educational and will visit my blog often.

If you wish to know more about me, please visit my Bandcamp page:  robertjandukarm.bandcamp.com  for my bio and to listen to/and or purchase my recordings.  I also have a YouTube channel were I have posted recordings of myself (playing solo and with other people) playing violin, piano, and organ demo pieces at: www.youtube.com/user/rjdukarm/videos Thank you for your interest.

Robert Jan Dukarm

Helmut Walcha – Christmas Chorale Preludes

Helmut Walcha (1907-1991)

Helmut Walcha was a blind German organist, harpsichordist, and composer who played the works of Dutch and German Baroque masters. He is best known for his recordings of the complete organ works of J.S. Bach. Walcha learned music by hearing his wife or someone else play the notes. He then memorized what he heard and worked on it until he could play it and sing each part. He taught his students that to truly know music you have to be able to not only play it but also sing it.

Helmut Walcha composed and published 4 volumes of chorale preludes for the organ (and arrangements of orchestral pieces or organ pieces.) Here is a recording of two Christmas chorale preludes by Helmut Walcha:

Zu Bethlehem geboren (Born in Bethlehem), and Den die Hirten lobten sehre (Whom the Shepherds Praised Dearly) played by organist Wolfgang Rübsam.

Dieterich Buxtehude – Prelude in C Major (BuxWV 138): Harald Vogel, Organ

Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)

Dieterich Buxtehude was a Danish-German Baroque composer and organist. He composed a wide variety of vocal music and instrumental music. Today he is best known for his organ music (which is a major part of the standard organ repertoire.) Buxtehude’s style of composition influenced many composers (especially Johann Sebastian Bach.) Bach famously travelled about 250 miles to learn from Buxtehude and to hear him play.

Buxtehude composed chorale preludes based on German hymn tunes for the church. He also composed organ preludes written in the form of fugues (and it is for these organ preludes that he is best known.) Buxtehude’s organ preludes are the pinnacle of the North German style of organ composition during his time. They are composed in what is known as stylus phantasticus (a style of composition that sounds like an improvisation and is characterized by short contrasting episodes and a free form.)

Harald Vogel – organist (1941 -)

Harald Vogel is a German organist, author, and expert on Renaissance and Baroque keyboard music (especially North German Baroque music and North German Baroque pipe organs.) In 1983 Harald Vogel recorded the complete organ works of Dieterich Buxtehude. Here is a recording of Buxtehude’s Prelude in C Major (BuxWV 138). I hope that you enjoy listening to it.

Scott Joplin – Pine Apple Rag (Itzhak Perlman, Violin; André Previn, Piano)

Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. He became famous during his lifetime for playing a style of music called Ragtime, and for the many Rags he composed for the piano. Among his most famous rags are the Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, Rag-Time Dance, The Easy Winners, and Elite Syncopations. Joplin quickly became known as the “King of Ragtime”. Most of the compositions he wrote were Rags for the piano. However, toward the end of his life, Scott Joplin was working on a Ragtime opera called Treemonisha. The opera was never fully staged during his life. In 1916 Joplin got dementia which was the result of him catching syphilis. Scott Joplin died in 1917 (when he was 48 years old). His death was barely noticed because there were more pressing events going on during that time such as the entry of the United States into World War I.

In 1975 violinist Itzhak Perlman and jazz pianist André Previn teamed up together to record several of Perlman’s violin/piano arrangements of Scott Joplin rags. Scott Joplin’s music was all the rage at the time (the film Sting which featured Joplin’s music was released in 1973). The Perlman/Previn album (The Easy Winners) became a huge hit and the album along with sheetmusic of the arrangements is still popular so many years after it was recorded.

Here is Perlman and Previn playing Scott Joplin’s Pine Apple Rag from their 1975 album ‘The Easy Winners’.

Jonas Kaufmann – Wien Wien, nur du allein

Wien Wien nur du allein (also known as Wien du Stadt meiner Träume) is a popular song composed by Rudolf Sieczyński (1879-1952), an Austrian composer of Polish ancestry. He is well known today for this nostalgic song about Vienna. The song has been recorded by many famous singers including Jonas Kaufmann, Fritz Wunderlich, the 3 Tenors, and Birgit Nilsson.

Jonas Kaufmann (1969 – )

Jonas Kaufmann is an operatic tenor. Kaufmann began his career singing for the Berlin State Opera in 1992 while he was still a student. Since 2008 Jonas Kaufmann has toured in many countries around the world. He is one of the most sought after tenors on the operatic music scene today, and is well known for the versatility of his repertoire. Here he sings Wien Wien, nur du allein in a gentle, non-operatic, but very expressive way.

Daniel Barenboim plays Tango Adios Muchachos

Daniel Barenboim (1942- )

Daniel Barenboim is a pianist and conductor. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has performed all over the world in piano recitals and as piano soloist with many of the world’s great orchestras. Barenboim has been musical director of many orchestras including the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestra of Paris.

In this video clip, Daniel Barenboim performs Julio César Sanders tango Adios Muchachos (Goodbye Boys) in a tango bar called La Cumparsita. He really puts a lot of emotion into this performance. The crowd loves it.

Ivry Gitlis plays Saint-Saens Rondo Capriccioso (this is compared with a performance by Itzhak Perlman)

Ivry Gitlis (1922- )

Ivry Gitlis is an Israeli violin virtuoso.  He has had a long and varied career performing with many of the world’s major orchestras (such as the London Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic.)  Ivry also played with the Beatles in the Rock and Roll Circus film.  He is also an actor and composer.  He moved to the US in the 1950s.  Since the 1960s he has lived in Paris, France.  Ivry Gitlis style of playing is very different from violinists of today.  He occasionally plays without vibrato, and he uses the bow to get different tonal colours out of the violin.  Sometimes the playing is lush, at other times it has a frantic energy to it.

Here is a clip from 1962 of Ivry Gitlis and Georges Pludermacher playing Saint-Saens Rondo Capriccioso.  He plays this piece unlike any other violinist I have heard.  There is incredible energy and abandon in this performance.

For comparison, listen to this performance of Itzhak Perlman and the Sadler’s Wells Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.  Perlman’s interpretation is quite a bit slower than Gitlis.  Gitlis really goes for it.  Enjoy

Howard Brockway – Cavatina Op. 13

Howard Brockway (1870-1951)

Howard Brockway was an American composer and pianist.  Brockway composed pieces for solo piano, a symphony, piano quintet, sonata for violin and piano, and a suite for cello and orchestra (or piano). He also wrote choral music.

With singer Loraine Wyman, Brockway travelled to the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky to record traditional folk songs.  Howard Brockway later wrote out piano accompaniments for the folk tunes he recorded and Loraine wrote down the words.  The folk songs they collected were published in two volumes in 1916 and 1920.

From 1911 to 1920 Brockway worked as a recording artist and piano roll editor for Ampico (the American Piano Corporation).  He was the company’s most prolific recording artist, recording around 155 pieces (as well as many accompaniments and popular tunes).

Howard Brockway’s Cavatina Op. 13 for violin and piano (which is featured in this post) was featured in the soundtrack to the movie “The Prince of Tides”.  It is played here by violinist Pinchas Zukerman and pianist Marc Neikrug.  Enjoy.

James Nares – Introduction and Fugue in a minor and Major (Gerard Brooks, organist)

James Nares (1715-1783)

James Nares was an English organist and composer.  He mostly composed sacred vocal music, but he also composed some music for the organ and harpsichord.  James Nares was the assistant organist at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, worked for a time at York Minster, and then returned to the Chapel Royal in 1756 to be the organist and composer to King George III.  Apparently James Nares was the first person to publish a series of keyboard lessons for piano students.  Nares resigned as organist of the Chapel Royal in 1781 because of declining health.  He died in 1783 at the age of 67.

Gerard Brooks (organist)

Gerard Brooks is an English organist, composer, teacher, and arranger.  He teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England.  Gerard specializes in playing the organ music of the French Romantic period on Cavaillé-Coll organs.  He has recorded the complete organ works of Saint-Saens and Eugène Gigout.  In 2016 Gerard Brooks recorded an album entitled “A Giant Reborn” which was recorded on the newly restored 1735 Robert Bridge organ at Christ Church, Spitalfields.  Here is a recording of James Nares Introduction and Fugue in a minor and Major played on that organ.

Dick Wellstood plays Washington and Lee Swing (stride piano)

Dick Wellstood (1927-1987)

Dick Wellstood was an American jazz pianist. He was one of the great stride pianists. Dick could take just about any jazz tune or classical piece and turn it into a lively stride piano piece. He made many recordings during his musical career. Here is a tune called the “Washington and Lee Swing” played by Dick Wellstood from his album “Ragtime Piano Favourites”. If you haven’t heard Dick Wellstood’s stride piano, “Ragtime Piano Favourites” is a good place to start. This music may make you want to get up and dance.