El Choclo (tango)
El Choclo is one of the most popular Argentinian tangos. It was written by Ángel Villoldo, an Argentinian musician. It is named after the owner of a nightclub. El Choclo had its premier in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1903. It has since been recorded by many dance orchestras in Argentina and famous musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Julio Iglesias.
Katica Illényi is a Hungarian violinist, singer, and theremin player. She is a classically trained violinist that plays several different genres of music including tangos, folk music, klezmer music, and Manouche jazz (or gypsy jazz). She has won many awards including the Artist of Merit of Hungary Award and the Franz Liszt Award from the Franz Liszt Academy. She organizes her own concerts and her YouTube channel gets millions of hits on a regular basis.
Here is a live performance of Katica Illényi (violin) and her sister Anikó Illényi (cello) performing the tango El Choclo with a group of other musicians. I hope that you enjoy this music.
Ivry Gitlis (1922- )
Ivry Gitlis is an Isreali violin virtuoso. He has played with many of the world’s top orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the Israeli Philharmonic. His style of playing is unconventional. He sometimes plays with a very intense vibrato and at other times with no vibrato at all. His use of the bow is different from many players today. Sometimes he lays into the string producing a powerful tone. At other times the bow slides across the string lightly producing a glassy sound. His playing is also very free compared to many modern players who seem to just plow through the notes in a mechanical fashion.
Here is Ivry Gitlis playing Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen with pianist Ann Maria Vera, and Tchaikovsky’s Valse Sentimentale with pianist S. Neriki. I hope that you enjoy this music.
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (1811-1899)
Aristide Cavaillé-Coll was a 19th Century French organ builder. He completed his first organ in 1840. The period from the French Revolution beginning in 1789 and during the time of Cavaillé-Coll’s first organ was devoid of french organ music. Many pipe organs in France were auctioned off or destroyed, and many organists lost their jobs during the revolution. Some kept their jobs because they played popular music glorifying the revolution. When Cavaillé-Coll built his first organ there was basically one French organ composer named Boëlly who was writing for the organ. Cavaillé-Coll revolutionized organ building in France and he encouraged organists to compose for his romantic organs. He worked together with composers to promote their music and they wrote music that fit well together with the sounds of his organs. It was because of Cavaillé-Coll that French organ music became an important part of 19th century France. The organ in the Basilica of St. Denis was the first organ that Cavaillé-Coll built.
Pierre Pincemaille (1956-2018)
Pierre Pincemaille was a French organist who was well known for his improvisations during live performances and on cd recordings. He recorded Charles-Marie Widor’s organ symphonies on several Cavaillé-Coll organs, as well as works by Franck, Duruflé, Cochereau, and Vierne. Pierre graduated from the Paris Conservatory with first prizes in harmony, counterpoint, fugue, organ, and improvisation. He became the organist of St. Denis in 1987 and played there until his death on January 12, 2018. In the video clips you are about to see, Pierre Pincemaille improvises on the organ of St. Denis. He is making up the music on the spot. Enjoy!
The tango La Cumparsita was composed by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez (1897-1948) in 1916. Lyrics were written by Pascual Contursi and Enrique Pedro Maroni. It is one of the most famous tangos. the piece began its life as a march. After it was written, Rodriguez had his friend Manuel Barca show it to orchestral leader Roberto Firpo. Firpo decided to turn the piece into a tango. It was named the cultural and popular anthem of Uruguay in 1997.
Here is La Cumparsita (in tango form) played by two Arabic musicians at the Cairo Opera House in Egypt. The musicians are Hassan Sharara and Emad Hamdy. They arranged the piece for violin and guitar. Sharara plays the violin and Hamdy plays the guitar. I hope that you enjoy this music!
Fini Henriques (1867-1940)
Fini Henriques was a Danish composer and violinist. He was a colleague of Victor Borge’s father and both he and Victor Borge’s father played in the Royal Danish Orchestra. Fini Henriques was an excellent composer. He wrote music for piano, violin, and chamber ensembles. Fini Henriques also wrote operas.
Here is a rare clip of the Danish comedian and pianist Victor Borge playing a Lullaby by Fini Henriques. This piece was sentimental for Victor Borge because his mother used to play it for him when he was a little boy. I hope that you enjoy this music.
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian piano virtuoso, composer, and conductor. He started piano when he was four years old. In 1892, Rachmaninoff graduated from the Moscow Conservatory. By the time of his graduation from the conservatory, Rachmaninoff had already composed several piano and orchestral pieces. Rachmaninoff and his family left Russia in 1918 after the Russian Revolution and came to the United States. He didn’t do much composing between 1918-1943 because of a demanding touring schedule. Rachmaninoff had planned to make a career of only being a composer, but he had to provide for his family so he started touring as a pianist.
The two songs, Siren (Lilacs) and Zdes’ khorosho (How Peaceful it is here) are from Rachmaninoff’s Twelve Romances op.21. Siren (or Lilacs) was originally a song for soprano with piano accompaniment that Rachmaninoff later arranged as a solo piano piece. He recorded the solo piano version of the song on a piano roll.
Aida Garifullina (1987-)
Aida Garifullina is a Russian operatic soprano. In 2013 she won the 2013 Operalia competition. She has performed in several operatic productions at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, and Wiener Staatsoper (the Vienna State Opera). Aida is a rising star in the operatic world.
Iain Burnside (pianist, broadcaster)
Iain Burnside is a Scottish pianist and BBC braodcaster. He specializes in song repertoire. Iain has collaborated with many singers.
Here is a clip from a Rosenblatt recital in 2014 of Aida Garifullina (soprano) and Iain Burnside (piano) performing Sirens (Lilacs) and Zdes’ khorosho (How peaceful it is here) in London, England. Rosenblatt recitals are world class recitals of opera and song presented every year in London, England.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Claude Debussy was a French impressionist composer and pianist. His style of composition was greatly influenced by Javanese music he heard in Paris in 1889. To Debussy each piece of music was its own sound world.
Here is an interesting arrangement of a piece called “Reverie” (Dreaming) by Debussy which was originally composed for the piano. Jonathan Scott (harmonium) and his brother Tom Scott (piano) perform Jonathan’s arrangement of “Reverie” for harmonium and piano. I hope that you enjoy this arrangement.