Steve Tillotson (AHT) and Daniel Zuckerman (Z Cabernet Duo) playing the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata 8/13/2016 Grass Valley, California
Daniel of the Z Cabernet Duo (left) on violin, grainy photo of Steve (right) on piano
Click controls above to listen to the recording (If the volume is quiet/low please check the speaker settings on your computer).
We held a party at our house to celebrate my birthday and also celebration of the piano. We managed to make a video of our musical evening via an Ipad but it was very grainy and dark. We have extracted the audio above from the video recording and plan to convert the .wav file to a .midi file where we can make some calibrations to improve the audio quality.
We were delighted to have as the main entertainment professional music artists Carol (Piano) and Daniel (Violin), known as the Z Cabernet Duo, who can play anything from Beethoven to Taylor Swift. My one luxury item is my Kawai baby grand piano. I have always wanted to hear my piano played by a professional pianist, hence our hiring the Z Cabernet Duo. But the piano evening contained several wonderful surprises - Another friend (Albert Martinez) and local solo guiatar performer brought 3 of his Chinese friends to the party - Sherman, Amber and Lucy. Sherman is a professional violnist and Amber is a professional pianist. A surprise joy on the night was listening to Carol (of the duo) on the piano and Sherman on the violin play together. Later we had Daniel (of the duo) on the violin and Amber on the piano playing together. In the interval another friend (Joe Hammel, retired band leader, jazz pianist) entertained us with some exciting and lively jazz songs on the piano. Albert sang the Beatles version of "happy birthday" accompanied by Carol on the piano.
The Duo suggested that I play Beethoven's Moonlight sonata at the party and that Daniel, the violinist accompany me. Daniel is a very well known and respected violinist and he played many years ago on the Liberace TV show, accompanying Liberace on the piano. So the prospect of Daniel accompanying me was very exciting. The audio recording below is of me and Daniel playing the Moonlight sonata together. FYI I have never performed in front of a large audience before and Daniel and I had no opportunity to rehearse. So we both relied on Daniel's ability to cope with the unknown (me) which he did admirably
As if this wasn't enough excitement, I was gifted the most wonderful and surprising present imaginable - Amber offered to play a Beethoven piano sonata movement as her birthday gift for me. We settled on Sonata #27 Opus 90 in E minor. Beethoven states this is to be played "Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durehaus mit Empfindug und Ausdruck" ("With animation, and always with feeling and expression"). I incluide below some detail and references to this particular sonata movement.
SONATA #27 OPUS 90 (HISTORY)
The sonata was published in 1814 and was dedicated to Count Moritz Lichnowsky, a Beethoven benefactor and supporter. While in Baden, Germany, on September 21st 1814 Beethoven wrote the following letter to the count -
"Worthy and honored Count and friend!I did not receive your letter unfortunately, till yesterday - My cordian thanks for your thught of me and all manner of lovely messages to the worth Princess Christine - Yesterday I made a lovely promenade with a freidnd in the Bruhl and the subject of you particularly came up in our friendly conversation, and behold, on arriving here yesterday I find your good letter - I see that you stil persist in overwhelming me with kindnesses. As I do not want you to think that a step which I have taken was prompted by a new interest or anything of that kind, I tell you that a new sonata of mine will soon appear which I have dediced to you. I wante to surprise you, for the dedicatin was set apart for you a long time agom, but your letter of yesterday leads me to make the disclosure now. No new cause was needed for the public expression of my feelings for your friendship and kindness - but you would distress me with anything resembling a gift, since you woul totally misapprehend my purpose, and everything of the kind I could only refuse. I kiss the hands of the Princess for her thught of me and her kindness, I have never forgotten how much I owe you all, even if an unfortunate circumstance brought about conditions under which I could not show it as I should have liked to do." (source - Thayers life of Beethoven 1921, pages 591/592)
If anybody ever accuses you of having bad handwriting, plead the "Beethoven Defence" ..... Beethoven was known to have a temper, and he was very intollerent of his publishers whenever they made an error in transposing his manuscript to the printed version. See below the manuscript for bars 42-50 of this sonata, and one can understand why the publishers had such difficulty..
Beethovens hand written manuscript, bars 42-60 for sonata #27 Opus 90 in E Minor
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE PIANO AND BEETHOVEN
My mother was a gifted pianist, able to sight read and also play by ear, and we always had a piano in the house. As a junior kid at school (9-10 years of age) I had a great "music teacher". Kids of that age tended to consider classical music as "square" and boring, this teacher had the skill to engage the kids and get them interested. She played the piano, dished out various instruments to the kids (typically triangle, tambourine, etc. We would each be assigned to a "section" of the orchestra, changing our seats so we were sat in the right section of the orchastra. Teacher would show each section what was required of them and their instruments, she would then play and call out "timpany", "woodwind", "brass" etc, and the relevent section/bunch of kids would play when called upon. Yes we had to listen to stuff such as Die Fleudamous and The Blue Danube waltz (at the time - square and boring), but teachers "orchestra" worked very well. I remember her saying this - "About Beethoven, he is special because his music has a beginning, a middle and an end"). Even we kids loved the 5th symphony portion she played on the piano. She also taught us to sing "modern" songs, such as those then current in the theatre - ie Lional Bart (from Oliver etc). However, it was via this teacher that I first encountered Beethovens music
Many years later BBC2 TV (the then "highbrow" TV channel in the UK) broadcast a series of concerts, conducted by Otto Klemperer (renowned as a specilist conductor of Beethoven's music). I decided (despite my reluctance to listen to "square" boring music at that time) to watch the series. Otto Klemperer was fantastic, and clearly deserving of his fame and reputation. I was hooked on Beethoven. Excited by that BBC2 series I got my first piano a few weeks later.
At the age of 27 I started taking piano lessons with my piano teacher John Lobb, LRAM, MIM (PT). Lessons ended after 18 months due to my moving 50 miles north of London and I couldn't cope with the weekly journey to Kent (south of London). I have owned a variety of pianos over the years, including a beautiful Bluthner, a Whepdale Maxwell and Codd and I currently own a Kawai 5' baby grand piano. We purchased this piano via a Kawai dealer in Sacramento, California. The instrument was previously on loan to Sierra College (Sacramento) as a practice piano as part of a Kawai college-loan scheme and it had been regularly tuned and played. It came with the fulll 10 year Kawai guarantee. The action on the piano uses a durable material called ABS to replace wood for selected parts in the piano actions. This solves the problems inherent in wooden actions of the wood shrinking/expanding due to climatic changes which undermine the precision of the action and impair the touch and tone of the piano. Further, this particular piano was manufactured for the California climate. That is also important because the sounding board is 'seasoned" to best match the California climate. I have had the piano for about 10 years now and its beautiful and perfect.
So, as you can see, this party was a very happy event for me , and the gift from Daniel to accompany me, and the gift from Amber to play a Beethoven sonata movement for me, made it a very very special night.