Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sara Davis Buechner - "That's Pathetic!"

American-born and trained (Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music) pianist Sara Davis Buechner gives an enlightening lecture-demonstration on the ubiquitous Beethoven Piano Sonata in C Minor, op. 13, known to every living organism as the "Pathetique" Sonata (and might I add, one of the few sonatas to which Beethoven attached a "nickname".)
EVERY PIANO STUDENT who loves the "Pathetique" (and who doesn't?) MUST watch this.  She gives an enlightening talk about the origins of this sonata, and its connection to the Mozart Sonata in C Minor, K.457.

And speaking of "living organism", that might be an offbeat way to describe Buechner's playing.  Intensely powerful, often athletic, everything she does is backed up by a tremendous, disciplined technique and total immersion in the style of the music being performed.

Her recordings of "byways in the piano repertoire", such as piano music by Rudolf Friml, Miklos Rozsa, and neglected American "lady composer" Dana Suesse, are enjoyable listening.  Ms. Buechner has also edited some music for Dover, including a volume of the wonderful and neglected music of Russian composer Anton Arensky.

Let's take a look at her pedigree (cribbed from another website):

Education: Juilliard School of Music, NYC, diploma; Manhattan School of Music, doctorate in music.

New York University, faculty member; University of British Columbia, School of Music, assistant professor, 2003–.

Awards: Gold Medal, Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, 1984; Bronze Medal, Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, 1986; Deutsches Schallplatten Preis, for recording of piano concertos by Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxmann, 1995.

YEP.  a BRONZE medal in the TCHAIKOVSKY competition.

An abridged list of her recordings:

Piano Music of George Gershwin, Connoisseur Society, 1994.
Henry Martin: Preludes and Fugues, GM Recordings, 1994.
The Paradine Case: Hollywood Piano Concertos, Koch International Classics, 1995.
Bach-Busoni Goldberg Variations, Connoisseur Society, 1997.
Rózsa: Complete Works for Solo Piano, Koch International Classics, 1999.
Stephen Foster: Complete Piano Works, Pro Piano, 2002.
Piano Music of Rudolf Friml, Koch International Classics, 2004.
Joaquin Turina: Mujeres Españolas, Koch International Classics, 2004

SO...  Why have we Americans so overlooked one of our own? 

She was born David Buechner.  That's why.  Read more here.

Our loss is Canada's gain. 

Americans are becoming more accepting of public figures who are gay, lesbian, or transgender.  But it seems that the Classical Music world, even with its disproportionately large number of LGBT performers, listeners, and fans, are slow to accept its own. 

Here is Sara's story, in her own words, from an article published last February.

Sara Davis Buecher has lived her life with dignity and courage.  And she deserves our attention.  And more bookings in her native land.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"My teacher" performs "my music"

My college teacher Susie Francis Dempsey (a recurring "character" in the tales I spin here) recently celebrated a birthday.  I don't know which one; I'm a musician and can only count to four.

This video of Dr. Dempsey performing my "Arietta" (2006) was made in 2009, when she performed it in a studio recital.  Yours truly caught it on his Flip camera (remember those?) and a precious (to me, anyway) memory was saved.

The little "diva nod" before she started is priceless.  I think I told her I needed a moment to make sure the Flip was up and running.  She was ready for her close-up, Max.

Since she has retired from college teaching, she is teaching privately in her home studio - see my previous post for a scene from her studio - she is performing more frequently - which is a good thing.  Of course I am biased, but I have always been enamored of her singing tone, and it is something I have tried to pass on to my students.
Happy belated birthday, Dr. Dempsey.  You have left a legacy in the many musicians you have taught in the Southeast - as a piano teacher, and as a fabulous theory professor at Jacksonville State University, to many music educators in schools today.  You are still touching lives today, and hopefully for years to come.