A Playlist & Another Movie

I’ve been listening to a lot of classical mixes lately, and I’ll be darned if it hasn’t turned my commute into the most lovely part of the day. I think this kind of music is especially fitting in big cities like San Francisco, where each patch of neighborhood has its own musical personality. Golden Gate Park is Satie. Duboce Triangle is a Mozart piano concerto. Downtown is Gershwin, because I’ve watched one too many Woody Allen movies (and that movie is Manhattan).

Everything seems a little bit more timeless, a little bit more deliberate: buses somehow look graceful when you’re listening to a waltz, and everyone steps off the sidewalk in time when the streetlights turn green in FiDi. I love how music breathes life into every part of the city.

(A work in progress)

[Not-so-sneaky transition:] Speaking of personal soundtracks, I finally saw Birdman.

Hey guys, remember when I said Boyhood was my favorite movie of 2014, then changed my mind and said it was Whiplash? Yeah, I might have to do that again. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a movie lover’s movie, and perfect in almost every way. I loved how it was funny and unnerving and the same time, just surreal enough to keep you on your toes, and super immersive (the whole thing is made to look like one continuous shot).

And the music! Really cool drum score, plus bits and pieces from Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mahler. Ugh, so good. After we got out of the movie we walked down Castro to get food and there was a string quartet playing in front of Cliff’s and I felt like if I turned around there’d be a camera following us, and we’d start speaking in perfectly-timed dialogue. Life has been so musical lately; I love it!

It’s about to get rullllll nerdy up in here

So lately I’ve been attempting to practice piano more (actually: re-learn what I used to be able to play in high school), and have recently rekindled my love affair with this piece:

Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in c sharp minor
If you’re a music geek like me, you might be able to tell from that excerpt above why it is so fun to play. First of all, DOUBLE GRAND STAFF because there are simply too many notes to fit into one staff alone. Not to mention, quadruple sforzando (basically, super freaking loud) = an excuse for extra flamboyant playing. This right here is why I would love to have a grand piano someday, just so I could pound on the keys and not have to worry about my keyboard stand suddenly collapsing or falling over (oh, and also to be able to produce sound by real hammers and strings instead of through a dinky amplifier. Sorry keyboard, I love you, I really do).  
So yeah. I have Lauren to thank for introducing me to the infamous prelude in high school, and after I heard it I basically begged my piano teacher to let me learn it. Now it’s one of the few pieces I can still remember how to play.
Fun fact: Rachmaninoff had abnormally large hands and according to wiki, could play the chord C Eb G C G with one hand?!
Here is a recording of the prelude by Horowitz (2:30 is where the real fun begins) and here is an amusing version by Harpo Marx:


Btw, obviously this was recorded and dubbed over, but for the record, Harpo was an awesome musician and I have no doubt that he could actually play this note for note. Oy, I need to stop blogging for the night, otherwise I’ll get sucked into a YouTube vortex of Marx Brothers videos…

R.I.P. Van Cliburn.

I know I posted this earlier when I was on my Tchaikovsky kick, but I have no shame in reblogging today. This is one of my favorite pieces ever and I’m so glad there exists a clip of Mr. Cliburn playing it:
(The end of Mvt. 1; Mvt. 2; Mvt. 3)


What an amazing musician. If you are in the mood for more, Liszt’s Un Sospiro is another personal favorite, and his rendition is gorgeous. Van Cliburn, you will be missed!


I like Tchaikovsky

Sorry for the sparse/short entries recently! I’ve come across so many things I want to write about, but never seem to have the time to actually put together a post. This one’s been waiting unfinished for a while, so I thought I’d share it before this blog becomes totally extinct:

I don’t know where I obtained this record, but last time I was home I decided to put it on and rock out to good ol Pyotr. It’s such an irrelevant album cover, but the music is totally legit. And I’m not gonna lie, I really want that chick’s sweatshirt.

I recently found myself walking under the arches of Royce Hall while listening to the 1812 Overture (not the crazy-dramatic-fireworky ending, but the very beginning, which is hauntingly majestic in contrast). The combination of my surroundings and the music was strangely emotional. I felt like I should have been walking in slow-mo as if in a movie, the scene where the college grad is about to embark on the next great chapter of her life and is surveying her home for the past four years one last time. Very surreal.

Listen to it here.

I feel more like a music major every day

My current obsession is in the form of a song. More specifically, it’s the 3-minute introduction to Tchaikovsky’s 1st piano concerto. I really can’t find words to describe it, but about 2 and a half minutes in, I feel like the strings are gripping my heart and pulling me up into the heavens, haha. Meanwhile the piano is pounding away…it’s such a great contrast. Tchaikovsky is the man. I started to get really into his music after listening to the 6th Symphony on a record I found at home. Everyone is familiar with his ballet works, but there is so much more amazing stuff to be heard.

Nowadays my YouTube usage has been geared toward finding performances of classical pieces that I love. Am I a nerd? Answer: very yes. I also got a $15 itunes gift card for Christmas, and what do I spend it on? A whooooole bunch of classical music. Anyway, here are some of my favorites:

*Adagio for Strings – Barber. It’s so powerful…so sad. A thousand images could be put to this piece.
*Pavane Pour Une Enfant Defunte – Ravel. It was originally for piano and then made into an orchestral work, but I love this version.
*Symphony No. 5, Mvt. 4 – Beethoven. Listening to this is pretty exhausting, haha. It might sound crazy, but this ending reminds me of the final push in a drum corps closer; it has just as much energy and I bet performing it gives the same amazing rush.
*Andante Cantabile – Tchaikovsky. Seriously, sometimes I think there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of cello.
*Piano Concerto No. 20 K466 – Mozart. Not gonna lie, whenever I hear this I think of Salieri being wheeled through the asylum at the end of Amadeus…nevertheless, it makes me really happy. I love Mozart.

[Side note: I’ve had that Mozart-in-aviators picture saved for at least 2 years, and have just been waiting for a reason to post it. The day has finally come!]