Tuesday 23 February 2010

That classic sensation, sentimental confusion

Today (or, according to some, next Monday) we celebrate 200th birthday of Frederick "the great French composer" Chopin. Usually I couldn't care less about birthdays of writers, actors, celebrities etc., but for some reason this occasion has somehow moved that deeply hidden patriotic part of me.

I used to hate his music. I was always putting it next to smug guys in white ties, children tight up to their pianos by ambitious parents and Poles bragging about rises and independence while doing nothing. Someone somewhere once said, that jazz is like wine and olives - it just takies time to grow up enought to appreciate it. I think it's pretty much the same with Chopin.

What's more, I'm sure I wouldn't be able to appreciate Chopin without knowing jazz inside out first (don't think too big of me, I meant just listening, not playing). It seems almost like a natural path throught the imaginarium of music: jazz->electronics->Chopin...

If Freddie lived nowadays, he wouldn't give a damn about white ties, he'd play jazz (of course, he'd perform in high class clubs in NYC, this guy was all about posh and loved high class grouppies). I simply cannot believe that this spirit would be able to stand the filharmony's smug. His all pieces sound like one big improvisation to me and I can imagine it must have been an unbearable torture for Freddie to write it all down. Nowadays he'd just sell records, instead of letting his music to be deadly assasinated during chic soirees by some snobs whi bought the notes.

More "Hollywood" version of Chopin - Hugh Grant starring in great British movie "Impromptu". I wonder if Chopin was as hot as Grant. I've always had a thing for pianists... ;)

Another common thing about jazz and Chopin occurred to me quite recently, while listening to a lot of various interpretations of his pieces on youtube. The problem with YT is that there are loads of videos (which is also it's greatest advantage), with various level of performers in them. However, when considering only the good ones, one can easily conclude this one thing: the older musician gets, the better they play. Young performers are always in such a rush, as if they were organizing some sort of race between each other, who'll play faster. Older, mature pianists, on the other hand, have this right feeling and know how to take things easy. I guess that's just the way it is - one has to live with music for many years, so that they could stop freaking out before every single date and wear bathrobe in her presence.

Every jazz standard can be interpreted in many ways. Those who cannot listen to "Summertime" by Gershwin any more know perfectly well what I'm talking about. While everybody got used to white-tie-sweaty-hands interpretation of Chopin, there was a great Polish band, who broke the taboo. Novi Singers - three guys and a gal, who, despite of their formal education in music, didn't mind confessing that their main inspiration are Duke Ellington, Beethoven and The Beatles - made an album called "Novi sing Chopin". I fell for this album from the very first hearing.

Since it is mainly due to this album that I fell in love with Chopin's music, they seem perfect to open the list of my favourite pieces.

Waltz op. 64 nr 1 ("minute waltz")
Charming and much too short.

Polonaise A major
In PL a lot of people call it "radio polonaise", because it's first few bars were some sort of sound logo of Polish Radio for many years. One of the very few pieces of music that I like to play out loud, without doing anything, just getting high on it's atmosphere and beauty. Performed by Janusz Olejniczak.

Funeral march
...in contemporary interpretation arranged by Jerzy Satanowski. This piece comes from an OST "Day of wacko" ("Dzień Świra", film by Marek Koterski).

Etude revolutionary
Great, passionate piece. Performer's name is Jessica Chang - 15-year-old musical prodigy from Taiwan, who started composing her strongly inspired by Chopin works at the age of 13. Check out her youtube channel, she rocks! (I know, interesting choice od words)
She's young and very technical, but this specific piece sound best when played by young, strong and fast fingers. After all, a revolution is made for young ones, right?

Nocturn E flat major, np. 9 no. 2
Suprise, surprise - not on piano this time! Funny, on a guitar it sounds almost like a composition of Sor or Tarrega. Instrument really matters... Performer is not that brilliant, just stumbled upon this clip while looking for some interesting version on this piece. It's just to spicy things up a little.

Mazurka F major op. 68 no. 4
...and Novi Singers again.

Polonaise A flat major
My perfect musical drug no. 2. I like listening to this and polonaise A major together to get double high.

So much for my private Chopin toplist. Of course, there's a lot more, but those are pieces that I distinguish the easiest.

I hate romantic literature (if you're not Polish, you won't understand why, just believe me I have good reasons for it), but romantic music is my cup of tea. For a dessert - nice piece by genuine, 100% French composer, Debussy - "Claire de lune". Clip has been taken from a movie "Tokyo Sonata", which is, btw, really worth seeing.

Quoting my long lost friend to me, all classical pieces have one common title "a gang wearing white ties", therefore I deeply apologize if I made a mistake in any title put above. The truth is, I hardly ever pay attention to the titles - whether it's fado, electro, Chopin... it's just too difficult to remember.

PS. The title of this note comes from an absolutely dreadful song "I like Chopin" by Gazebo. Google it if you want to check it out, I won't be responsible for this aesthetic rape you could experience.

Happy birthday, Freddie!

Tuesday 2 February 2010


Our couch is old and awful, the fabric is dirty and torn in few places. However, I am letting this apartment and this piece of furniture, and I must do my best to keep this awful, neck-breaking blue monster in "superb condition" (the term as accurate as it's usage in property letting ads, don't you think?).

Therefore, I bought a catnip spray for my black witch, to drag her away from sides of the couch and attract her to that lovely scratching mat my bf bought a while ago. Results are satisfying, so far.

Anyway, I made this funny video. Since I remember, I have always connected in my weird, creepy mind "Rhapsody in blue" with a cat (not necessarily doing drugs).