August 29, 2016
After an unintentional summer break, the podcast is back with a very exciting episode related to our Darmstadt School Series back in July. One of the featured composers, and perhaps the most famous of them, is Pierre Boulez, who passed away in January. The same week that I posted an article about his Livre pour Quatuor, I discovered that the Diotima Quartet would be coming to Taipei to premiere a new performing version of the work by the composer himself. They had an incredible opportunity to work with Boulez on his only work for string quartet, dating back to half a century ago, and I speak with Zhao Yun Peng, first violinist of the Diotima quartet about modern music and about the quartet specifically. There will be a Part 2 of this conversation as well as a (brief) Chinese version coming out later this week (hopefully), so stay tuned. I quote Mr. Zhao below. I asked him what he would say to audiences coming to hear a work from Boulez (or anything modern) for the first time:
-What we can do and what we can say maybe… is to say to the people, “okay, now we’ve changed a century and maybe just try to give up our habit to listen to the music from the nineteenth century. Maybe we need some references to listen to nineteenth-century music. But when you listen to the twentieth century, maybe just give up this habit, for example, nice melody. For example, some drama… maybe just let [it] go… It’s a little bit like when you appreciate a painting when you go to the modern arts exhibitions, and okay, you’re faced with a painting, but I think everyone will have a different feeling, everyone will have a different understanding, and it’s not necessary to have the same. The most important thing to have is to have a personal satisfaction when you listen to this sort of piece.-
Go listen to the whole episode. It's very good.
Find the Diotima Quartet at:
or on Facebook as Quatuor Diotima
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or on Facebook as Fugue for Thought
June 19, 2016
Carmine has much to say in defense of offering a fresh, new reading of a work like Dvorak's concerto, no matter how familiar it might be to some, and let me say his new release is proof. The recording of the Schumann and Dvorak cello concerti was released (at the time of writing) just over a week ago and is fantastic.
There were a few "aha" moments for me discussing what must be one of the most famous cello concertos there is, as Mr. Miranda brings some insight into how the cello concerto is unique among the other works the composer wrote during his time in America, and you can't miss it when you listen. The things that make this work unique, the parts of himself that Dvorak brought to the work seem also to be things with which Miranda identifies, and the result is a crystal clear, powerful interpretation of a work that you just might hear in a new way. Go listen.
Find Carmine at www.carminemiranda.com or on Facebook. The album is in iTunes and everywhere else.
Find me at www.fugueforthought.de, and on Twitter and Facebook @fugueforthought.
May 28, 2016
I started this podcast to hear and share stories and expertise, people's unique musical experiences, whatever they might be. It's generally expertise or experience, but in speaking to Mike McCaffrey about Haydn, it seems he has both. Listening to him talk about the composer whose music (and history) he has a special affinity for, you’d be excused for imagining he grew up with the composer, or lived next door to him, or at least shook his hand. He speaks as if from experience, but that experience is not having spoken with the composer. Rather, it’s a passion to come to “find Haydn,” as he says, and I came across his blog (a treasure trove of information) in my own attempt to do exactly that. We chatted for hours, and today’s episode is the first part in my own discovery of this fascinating composer.
Find Mike at:
Find me at:
or search for Fugue for Thought in iTunes
May 15, 2016
featuring cellist Carmine Miranda
Carmine Miranda has plenty to say in defense of a work he is passionate about and knows intimately. His newest recording, of the Schumann and Dvorak cello concerti, is available for pre-order to be released on June 10, 2016. I was eager to look into this project of his, a discussion of a misunderstood piece which apparently contains a hidden program that runs through the entire work.
I was kindly offered a listen to Miranda's recording of the two works, and I must say, despite at least a tinge of skepticism, I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly, both the Dvorak and the Schumann. They are memorably fantastic. But there's more to it than just a virtuosic, crystal-clear recording. Could it be that the vast majority of people have misunderstood or ignored this work for some 166 years, and that some determined digging could show the seemingly-idiosyncratic work to be a masterpiece we hadn't recognized? That was intriguing, and in this week's (belated) episode, I talk about that very thing with an outstandingly knowledgeable and passionate cellist.
Find Carmine Miranda at:
Find me at:
April 24, 2016
In this second conversation with extremely talented and friendly pianist Clipper Erickson, we speak of Laurie Altman, the finality of composers’ markings, being a cook vs. a chef at the piano, David Finko, whose third sonata was written for Erickson in 2009, something neither of us know about chemistry, submarine music, American and Hamburg Steinways, Cyril Scott and premieres of some of his work, and I ask a silly question about a piano concerto that Ravel never wrote. We also discuss Clipper’s experience playing some other standard concertos in the repertoire (Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin). Enjoy and share with your friends!
Find Erickson at
Find me at
and like, share, leave a comment. Stay tuned.
April 11, 2016
Violist Jess Wyatt is back for part two of our discussion. If you haven't already listened to part 1, go do that first! This second episode is a more behind-the-scenes, things-you-didn't-think-of discussion. Listen to Jess talk about her experience with the cello, fractional-sized instruments, the dreaded viola surgery I teased about in the part 1, Cambridge Violin Makers, Gasparo da Salò, Yuri Bashmet’s “baby,” the trial system in the U.K., and where you can hear Jess in the near future, in an opera, among other things.
Cambridge violin makers: www.makeviolins.com
Byre Theatre: http://byretheatre.com/
April 1, 2016
A late Romantic composer/pianist, African-American (actually Canadian) who comes from European traditions of Grieg and Liszt, influenced by Dvorak, who studied at Oberlin and for a time with Nadia Boulanger, friend of Percy Grainger. Who is this?
Clipper Erickson has been dedicated to the music of R. Nathaniel Dett for some time now, and has recently released two discs of Dett's piano music, and it is incredible. Even at first listen, one agrees with Jed Distler at Gramophone when he says that "Erickson’s idiomatic, colourful, technically adroit and caring interpretations do the repertoire full justice." It's a milestone in recognizing and presenting must-hear music from an unjustly neglected composer. Erickson talks to me about how he came to learn about Dett, what the music is like, why he's virtually unknown, as well as the recording process and issues of interpretation and presentation. Erickson is as friendly and informative as he is talented. This is the first of two conversations I had with him, so stay tuned for the second!
March 20, 2016
Violist Jess Wyatt joins us in this first of two episodes speaking about the viola and more. Find her links at the bottom of this description.
I'm not sure Jess would describe herself as such, but aside from being a violist, violinist and cellist as well as a teacher, I'd describe her above all as an ambassador for the viola. What's in the repertoire? What's Jess working on? In this first of two episodes, we speak about the charms of chamber music, Shostakovich, York Bowen, Eddie McGuire, viola concertos, Berlioz and Harold, recitals and a master class. Stay tuned for part two of our conversation, where we chat about the differences among violas as well as horrifying viola surgery and what it takes to get the instrument on planes.
Find Jess Wyatt at A Viola Player Writes or on Facebook. Her friends the Cambridge Violin Makers are on Facebook as well. Go like them both!
March 10, 2016
Richard Narroway: Bringing Bach to Life
Australian Cellist Richard Narroway returned to his homeland in 2015 for a very interesting tour. He was, as his Kickstarter page says, “performing and presenting the six Bach cello suites and six contemporary Australian compositions in an effort to spread the music through concerts, educational workshops and community engagement events… working with young students, elderly people in nursing homes and hospitals, as well as Dance for Parkinson’s Australia, an organisation that helps those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease through movement and music.”
I recently had a very enjoyable chat with him about this project, the music, as well as a new chamber music project coming up in Michigan.
You can find Richard at:
Find me at:
March 1, 2016
The second part of my long conversation with Viktor Hartobanu, in which we speak about things like Mahler and Mehta, Strauss and the harp, Barenboim at Bayreuth, Boulez and one of his scores, and the love that Japan gets from some of the world’s best orchestras.
Find Viktor at:
Find me at:
or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.