As the warmth of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays give way to the bitter cold of a January day, what better time to focus for a moment on a Chopin Etude given the title "The Winter Wind?" The first four bars begin rather simply very carefully stating a melodic theme. Interestingly enough, those four bars were not originally included, but Chopin was persuaded to include that introduction later by a friend. From that point, the piece becomes much more difficult. The descending right-hand patterns create a major challenge to the performer as does the fact that there are also two melodies in the right hand. A top melody that creates the chromatic pattern of the first and third notes in the pattern and the second and fourth notes create a counter-melody. Add to the acrobatic right-hand work a less challenging left-hand part but also one that contains some rather large jumps. In this recording, Maurizo Pollini brings out the technique while at the same time brings the passion and musical phrasing that Chopin's etudes require. Enjoy the "Winter Wind" on a cold and blustery January day.
Chick Corea has inspired and influenced multiple generations of musicians with his jazz style and particularly his style of improvisation. Using elements from jazz, pop, classical, and a strong influence of music from other cultures, particularly Spanish music, Chick Corea blends and weaves a fusion of style. Chick Corea puts a big emphasis on melody. Most of his compositions have very memorable melodies. In this video, he talks about how he uses a melody as the starting point for an improvisation.
"Christmas at the Piano" probably brings to mind piano arrangements and transcriptions of favorite carols but let's take a moment and examine Franz Liszt's contribution to Christmas music. Weihnachtsbaum, or "Christmas Tree" is a collection of twelve piaces written between 1873 and 1876. Unlike much of Liszt's music, it does not demand technical virtuosity and ability. Some say it relates to Schumann's Kinderszenen or Debussy's Children's Corner.