Paul Cantrell’s music blog & podcast
Piano music old and new from a devoted amateur,
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Posts tagged “Recordings”

Something sweet today: a bit of magic from Brahms.

Intermezzo Op 116 No 4
Paul Cantrell, piano

These late Brahms pieces — same with the first recording in this weblog — are amazing to me as a composer. They sound lush, but the writing is actually quite spare and elemental. The structures are at once formal and organic, like Bach preludes. And the incredible emotional intimacy, their sense of being so personal, is like no other music I know.

But enough of that — writing about music is…well…you know. (That should not stop you from posting a comment, though!) Enjoy listening.

Today’s recording is a composition of my own, which I see I play a bit faster than I did three years ago. I like the new version — I think the faster tempo in the middle sustains the structural momentum a bit better — but of course I may have changed my mind about that three years from now. That’s the fun of interpretation: it’s never done!

Music readers and visual aesthetes can follow along with the score.

In a Perfectly Wounded Sky
Paul Cantrell, piano

The opening chord of this piece was the starting point for Saturday’s recording, Lingle.

Recordings of compositions are many months, sometimes years, in preparation. It takes me a long time to learn pieces, and even longer to write them! But I’m sticking with this plan of posting a recording every Saturday and Tuesday regardless, which means that many of the recordings will be entirely spontaneous improvisations — like this one.

I’d originally meant to give all the improvs pleasing nonsense names, in the manner of Autechre, but for now, at least…

Paul Cantrell, piano

…I’ll be naming them after towns in Wyoming.

I had a lovely productive day in the recording studio (i.e. in my living room with the mics on) today, and you, o lucky readers of this weblog, will see the results of that work over the next couple of weeks as I get the recordings edited and mastered.

Here’s the first from today’s session, an old favorite of my compositions. Little-black-dot-minded people can follow along with the score.

Three Places
Paul Cantrell, piano

I have to say, I’m thrilled with the quality of this recording. Compare this recording to a very similar performance recorded at the first Keys Please, in the Macalester concert hall. The older recording sounds OK, but this one is how it’s supposed to sound, by golly.

I’m sure it would make a traditionalist classical audio engineer turn apoplectic, but I just love the crazy huge sound I get with my unorthodox mic setup. Suddenly, all those long ringing sounds make sense in the recording, just as they do live. I can’t praise recent advances in audio technology enough … or my beautiful piano, for that matter. I also must thank Matthew Smith and also Mike Olson, my audio engineer friends who helped me choose mics and do the EQ.

Do the recording justice, and listen on some good headphones — or, if you’re lucky, a great pair of speakers.

To get the recording train rolling, here’s a recording of a lullaby of Brahms, one of my favorites. I made this recording to play with equalization settings, but liked the performance enough to keep it.

Intermezzo Op 117 No 1
Paul Cantrell, piano

Thanks go to my good friend Geneviève, who introduced me to this piece about five years ago. She played it marvelously, and I’ve wanted to learn it ever since, though it took me until this spring to get around to it. So, finally, here it is. Enjoy.