Phoenix Park-Kim | Memories & Variations

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Memories & Variations

by Phoenix Park-Kim

Classical piano, old and new, that everyone can enjoy.
Genre: Classical: Piano solo
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Cohen Variations
6:40 $0.99
2. Love Walked In
3:37 $0.99
3. Embraceable You
3:14 $0.99
4. Variations On Barbara Allen
8:25 $0.99
5. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime
6:55 $0.99
6. Variations On the Hymn Gott Erhalte, Hob. III:77
6:51 $0.99
7. Rhapsodie Espagnole
14:15 $1.99
8. Berceuse, Op. 57
4:02 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Daniel Felsenfeld’s The Cohen Variations are based on the song “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen which Judy Collins first sang in her album in 1966. Cohen, a song writer and poet, created this beautiful song which was inspired by his relationship with Suzanne Verdal. The lyrics begin by describing the persona’s visits to her place by the river which seemingly lead to deeper and more complex feelings. The words begin to describe more than just romantic love between a man and a woman. The song is filled with multi-layered images, meanings, emotions, and alludes to deep spiritual connections. In The Cohen Variations, despite absence of words, Felsenfeld succeeds in expressing the ambiguity of complex feelings and the emotional tension of things unsaid between people. His use of polyphonic texture provides inner voices that carry more subtle and complex expressions within the unending simple melody. Yet there are moments of beautiful sonority formed by a contrapuntal unity and by the brilliant use of extreme registers of the piano where Felsenfeld takes the listener beyond the depths of the original song.

"Love Walked In" is a song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. The tune was composed in 1930 but the lyrics were not written until 1937, for the movie musical The Goldwyn Follies (1938). Australian-born composer and pianist, Percy Grainger became enthusiastic about the music of Gershwin in the 1940s and transcribed a number of Gershwin compositions, most notably a two-piano fantasy on Porgy and Bess. "Embraceable You" is another popular song, by the Gershwin brothers. The song was originally written in 1928 for an unpublished operetta named East Is West. It was eventually published in 1930. This transcription comes from Seven Virtuoso Etudes by one of the greatest American pianists, Earl Wild. These etudes, based on popular songs by Gershwin, are full of virtuosic figurations and jazz harmonies.

Variations on Barbara Allen was commissioned by pianist Phoenix Park-Kim, who premiered the piece in February 2015. American composer John Griffin once served as a music supervisor on a production of the stage play Dark of the Moon, which included the song "Barbara Allen." He was inspired to use the simple yet haunting melody as the basis for his set of variations. Griffin incorporates considerable chromatic alterations in most of the variations while often emulating the styles of composers such as Schubert (Var. 2), Bach (Var. 3), Brahms (Var. 7), and Chopin (Var. 8). Variation 9 is in a jazz style and features extended harmonies and scalar runs. The whole set concludes with a grand dramatic finale.

Variations on “Brother, can you spare a dime?” is based on the American song from the time of the Great Depression. Written in 1930 by Jay Gorney, the song asks why the men who built the nation – built the railroads, built the skyscrapers – who fought in the war (World War I), who did what their nation asked of them, should find themselves abandoned and in bread lines. The Dave Brubeck Quartet played a jazz instrumental arrangement of the song on their 1955 album and Brubeck himself often performed this piano solo version where he incorporates slow rag, then elaborate fugal technique.

While in England, Haydn heard the national anthem, “God Save the King” and wished Austria could have a similar anthem to express respect, love and devotion for their leader. In 1797, the first performance of the song “God Save Emperor Francis” was ordered for the birthday of the Monarch with text by the poet Haschka. The first version was written for the orchestra, then Haydn arranged it for string quartet, Variations on the Hymn “Gott erhalte” Hob. III: 77, four variations, each involving the melody played by one member of the quartet. Then Haydn made this last version, a piano reduction of the quartet arrangement which was one of his favorite pieces to play himself until his frail old age. This is known to be the last music Haydn ever played.

Inspired by his visit to Spain, Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole (Spanish Rhapsody), S.254 is a set of continuous variations based on two different Spanish folk melodies. The first section followed by a cadenza like introduction is based on La Folia, one of the oldest melodies used as a theme for many variations including Rachmaninoff’s Corelli variations. The second section is on Jota aragonesa, a fast dance performed by a group of dancers with castanets in 3/8 meter with a scherzando character. The last section is full of bravura passages including chromatic runs in thirds, daring changes of register, wide leaps, and parallel octaves and chords, which make this piece one of the most technically demanding in the piano repertoire.

Berceuse (French for lullaby) usually takes the form of an instrumental work with a steady, rocking rhythm suggestive of the cradle, often in 6/8 meter. Such is Chopin’s Berceuse, whose refined poetry and serenity shares many of his nocturnes’ dreamy character, but in this form it is unique among Chopin’s works. He originally called his Berceuse, ‘Variants’ as it is 16 four-bar variations over a ground ostinato. Along with this left hand ostinato, the piece is characterized by ornamentation in the right hand, which continuously finds varied expressions from the melody in the four bar variations.



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