Annoying Neighbors Band

Gnossiene, No. 1 (pronouced: NO-see-en)

Erik Satie — 1866-1925

Erik Satie was a French composer, 1866-1925. Although mostly known for his six Gnossienes and three Gymnopedies, he has a vast body of work, composing 84 musical works between 1885 and 1924.

From Frances Wilson’s article regarding the Gnossienes, “They were radical for their time in that they were written free form without time signatures or bar lines (a habit favoured by later minimalist composers) and lack conventional performance directions.”

Technical Note: My copy of this piece alternates between 16/4 and 24/4, each one long measure extending fully across the page.

Since Satie’s Gnossienes didn’t fit into any existing styles of piano music, such as a sonata or a prelude, Satie made up a completely new word, in this case, “Gnossienne” (pronounced: NO-see-en).

This recording of Gnossiene No. 1, composed around 1890 and published in 1893, is basically a very simple piece to play technically but can be challenging to subtly express, especially since Satie’s compositions are not marked with any kind of expressive phrasing or tempo. He is well known for his compositions to be very repetitive in nature and this piece is no exception. For this reason, I shortened the piece down to about half the original length which is still within keeping the mood of the original whole piece.

Many pianists play this at a much faster tempo. I prefer the slower, moody, almost eerie and mesmerizing feeling that the slower tempo evokes.

Articles of interest:

The Enigmatically Beautiful Music of Erik Satie

Composer Erik Satie Was So Much Weirder Than You Realize

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Valse in A flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1

Frédéric François Chopin 

Info from Wikipedia: It is also called The Farewell Waltz or Valse de l’adieu. The waltz was originally written as a farewell piece to Maria Wodzińska, to whom Chopin was once engaged.

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Ballad in G minor, No. 1 

Frédéric François Chopin

This is the beautiful melodic section about 3 minutes into the approximately 10 minute masterpiece of Chopin’s Ballad in G minor.

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Badinerie

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote four orchestral suites. The best-known “Badinerie” (a type of quick, light movement in a suite) is the final movement of Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor which features the flute as its soloist.

This partial version of the Badinerie is transcribed as a piano solo.

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Carnaval, Op. 9, No. 12 “Chopin” 

Robert Schumann, 1810-1856

In musical terms, “Opus” (Op.) is basically a body of work which can be a composition or a set of compositions.

In this case, Carnaval, Op. 9 consists of 21 movements or numbers (No.) and No. 12 is called “Chopin.” (Chopin was a colleague of Schumann’s whom he respected and admired.)

A little information about this piece…

Robert Schumann wrote the 21 Carnaval short pieces between 1834–1835.

Since “Carnaval” is meant to depict the happenings, or events, during the “Carnival of Lent” ~ a traditional festivity that takes place before people go on a fast during Lent ~ the movements are meant to create various moods such as majestic, lively, passionate, and animated.

This recording ~ Schumann’s Carnaval No. 12, called Chopin ~ is marked to be played “Agitato” (played in an agitated manner). The melody, however, is often played twice. The first time, it’s played with an agitated emotion and fuller sound. The second time, to “interest the audience,” it is sometimes played a little slower and softer with a “more melancholy mood,” which is how I like to play it.

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Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Edvard Hagerup Grieg, June 15, 1843 — September 4, 1907, was a Norwegian composer and pianist.
 
From Wikipedia — “He is widely considered one of the main Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions brought the music of Norway to international consciousness, as well as helping to develop a national identity.”
 
Grieg’s piano concerto, composed in 1868, was the only concerto he completed. It is among the most popular of all piano concertos.
 
Personal history regarding this Concerto
 
Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor is a personal favorite of mine for very special reasons. During my senior year at Burbank High School, California (1964), I played the 3rd movement of Grieg’s Concerto in A minor with our high school orchestra… along with very talented alumni musicians brought in to fill in the orchestra for the performance.
 
Every other year our high school would put on a play and the other year was usually a Fine Arts Concert of some type. David Olson, the orchestra director, approached me in my junior year and asked if I would like to solo with the orchestra for the following year, my senior year. Of course I was thrilled to get asked, quite a privilege!
I had a year to prepare and chose Grieg’s Concerto in A minor, the only piano concerto Grieg wrote. It was a thrill to perform! My mother said my father was so proud he was “busting his buttons.”
Recently, in 2021, I recorded the slow solo part in the concerto. So, 57 years later I bring you a bit of history!
 
Many concert pianists have recorded this concerto. If you would like to hear the entire 3rd movement by a wonderful pianist, Julia Fischer, along with a wonderful orchestra, here’s the YouTube link.
 
NOTE: In the YouTube video there’s a flute solo which my very good friend Susie, played brilliantly in 1964. That solo leads in at 2:39 and the piano solo is at 3:30.
 
 


Kinderszenen No. 1, Of Foreign Lands and People

Robert Schumann
 
Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) Op. 15 is a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano written in 1838. The work provides us with adult reminiscences of Schumann’s childhood.
 
Schumann wrote 30 movements for this work and chose 13 for the final version. The unused movements were later published in varying forms and various publications.
 
The Kinderszenen first piece ~ Of Foreign Lands and People set G Major ~ is sometimes called About Strange Lands and People.
 

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CHOPIN — Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35

This sonata was written in four movements. The 3rd movement, played at Chopin’s own burial, is known as the Funeral March (Marche funèbre) and was written in 1837, two years before the rest of the Sonata. The entire sonata was completed by 1839.

The full sonata typically lasts between 21 and 25 minutes to perform.
I’ve taken just a snippet of the 3rd movement to record, lasting only 20 measures and 2 minutes in length.

In my interpretation, the first section played is the somber death march which leads into the second section, an extremely contrasting, soft and beautiful melody. The short 3rd section echoes the funeral march to the finale.

When I play my short interpretation, the emotions that I personally feel from it denotes death, then being risen to the light of the next world, concluding with the finality of life on earth.

I was hesitant to express my emotional view because I think each person should interpret music, art, etc. in their own way.

That being said, I urge you to listen to the full version of Chopin’s Sonata No. 2 which has been recorded by numerous concert pianists, each expressing their own unique style.

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