Cristina Ortíz y Nelson Freire play Momoprécoce by Héctor Villa-Lobos

Hola. Below are two performances of Momoprécoce by el Brasileño composer Héctor Villa-Lobos.

Momoprécoce is a Fantasia para Piano, and in the first performance below we have pianist Cristina Ortíz y Regente/conductor Roberto Tibiriçá con Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana “Simon Bolívar,” Sala Simón Bolívar Centro de Acción Social por la Música – Caracas, Venezuela.

Momoprécoce was one of the works for piano and orchestra that Doña Cristina recorded early in her career after she won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1969, and Vladamir Ashkenazy (who served as a mentor to her of sorts) was the conductor in that performance.

When I watched this video the first time I didn’t check to check where the performance was held and then the camera showed the concert hall stage and I said to myself: Oh that’s Caracas. It was. They have a beautiful concert hall in Caracas. (Off topic: They also have a nice metro in Caracas which is better than some metros in The Empire/The Cesspool/the US/Los Estados Unidos. It’s better than the metro we have in San Francisco, and yet so many USans are so mindlessly stuck on that US Exceptional-ism nonsense (that arrogant and false thinking that USans are so damned special and superior to other people around the world. Ha! I can’t stand arrogance and ignorance.) Now back on the topic:

In the second performance: pianist Nelson Freire y Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo con Marin Alsop. I was glad to see Don Nelson using his score on the piano; I talked about that “playing from memory” nonsensical tradition in the screwed up classical music field in my Rachmaninov article.

The camera work is generally very good for these performances. I watched a Rachmaninov performance recently with Doña Cristina and felt very frustrated with the camera work. There’s usually one particular part in a piece where I’m especially interested in seeing the keyboard. Well, for two of the videos I watched of Doña Cristina the camerapeople made sure they did not show the keyboard in those places. I said to my screen: What are we doing back here in the back of the hall or over here on the right side of the stage where I can’t even see the keyboard and the piano is over there in the distance? What is wrong with these camera people? Clearly they’re not pianists or even musicians otherwise they would know that the camera should be on the keyboard in this particular well-known section of this piece. Then, of course, after that section ended that I wanted to see they put the camera back on the keyboard. Ugh. Humans! The camerapeople reminded me of the inept camerawork of an Anglican church I used to write about on occasion where their camerapeople were determined to show up and down the High Altar and the entire ceiling of the Nave each week even though the ceiling never changed from week to week, as well as showing the cracks in the ceiling while the Choir was singing and the organist was playing. I wanted to see the Choir and the organist, not the ceiling, its cracks or the High Altar, especially since they don’t change from week to week. So I gave up on them as I found their camerawork too frustrating to deal with.

I read an interview with Doña Cristina—it was from quite awhile back but I think it still applies—and I agreed with most of what she said. She doesn’t like the pianos in The Empire/the US because she prefers the Hamburg Steinways, which we don’t have, and she can immediately tell when she’s playing one or from just touching the keys (since the keys are different). Also, she prefers the orchestra to be around the piano more like in chamber music—where the first violins are directly behind the pianist or slightly to the left and the cellists are in view straight on from the pianist’s view—rather than having the piano stuck out front like a what-not and isolated from the orchestra the way it’s done in The Empire/the US. She considers the US way very cold and I agree. She doesn’t play much over here in The Cesspool and I can completely understand why. Her preference (with the piano placed more in the orchestra) is the European model and I prefer that as well. I think it also looks better. She also doesn’t like the (what I’ll call) the traditional bowing protocol. I can’t stand that either. It looks ridiculous to take a bow and then rush off stage and then immediately turn around and rush back out, take a bow and repeat that nonsense a few times. It’s fine to take a bow and appreciate any applause but just stay there (on stage). I like the way pianist Evgeny Kissin handles bows. At the end of his performance, he shakes the hand and hugs the conductor (for a piano concerto) then shakes the hand of the concertmasters/leaders 1 and 2, then he pauses and bows deeply to the audience, he turns around and applauds the orchestra, he joins hands with the conductor and bows, he pauses, then turns around and bows deeply to the orchestra and then he leaves the stage. To me, that’s perfect. There’s no need for anymore than that. I especially like that Kissin bows to the orchestra at the beginning and at the end of his concerto performances. There’s no need for an artist to leave and return to the stage, unless planning to do a perfunctory encore, and encores can be a bit much too. As Doña Cristina says, the pianist is dead tired at that point and has played enough. That bowing routine nonsense I talked about earlier—which also seems to be a US thing from what Doña Cristina said—is one of the more stupid ego trips of the screwed-up classical music field especially in the US. There are so many ridiculous “traditions” followed in the classical music field in the US. What is wrong with this country? Oh don’t get me started! What humans came up with that nonsense. Was that Don Franz Liszt again that some idiots need as their god? It seems that everything el hombre/the man did people just genuflected to, and some still do. Ugh. Humans (especially the humans in The Empire/the US)!

Well, enjoy the performances below from Doña Cristina y Don Nelson. Chau.—el barrio rosa

15 comments on “Cristina Ortíz y Nelson Freire play Momoprécoce by Héctor Villa-Lobos

  1. Héctor

    Hola to you. Question: Do you read the comments below classical music videos? Are some of them the classical music snots you were referring to? Muchas gracias.

    1. rosa_barrio Post author

      Hola Héctor, I scan them sometimes, with hesitation. There are usually the two “teams” on there (just like the devout supporters of political parties): the “team” that likes the performance—and describes the artist as “the greatest…,” and the “team” that doesn’t and they sit around arguing with each other. [roll eyes] I don’t usually comment because why bother? If someone doesn’t like the performance, that’s fine they don’t need to like it. If someone does like it, that’s fine too. I remember awhile back someone tried to bait me into arguing with them but they didn’t get anywhere. They said to me that they didn’t like the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus (knowing that I do). I said, “that’s fine. You don’t have to like them.” The person stood there with their mouth open. They had no idea how to respond to that. They then said, “aren’t you going to ask why I don’t like them?” I said: No.

      I gave up some time ago arguing with people on anything, because why bother? What’s the point of that unless one is into dysfunction, and having to be right. But yes, some of the Classical Music SnotsTM are among the commenters on many classical music videos. Gracias for your comment. Chau.

  2. FormerSanFranciscan

    That Steinway Ortiz is playing sounds so good. A beautiful piano and lovely tone. How do you feel about digital pianos?

    1. rosa_barrio Post author

      Hola FormerSanFranciscan, I’m glad you said Digital and not “electronic,” which is a common mistake people make. For those who don’t know, there is a difference between the two (they both plug into the wall or some receptable) but Digital pianos are a digital sampling of an acoustic concert grand and “electronic” keyboards usually aren’t (unless they’ve changed and I’m not aware of it).

      Some Digital pianos are quite good. I prefer an acoustic grand. I’d like one like Cristina Ortíz played in Caracas. I’m not prejudiced against Digital instruments or hate on them the way the Classical Music SnotsTM (that’s what I call them) do in their self-appointed authority omnipotent comments I’ve read from them online. Ugh. They are extremely rigid, conservative and enjoy lecturing others on what instrument one must have, period. There’s no gray area in their world.

      I have a Digital Piano and have been pleased with it. The people who have played mine loved it and wanted one, but only one could afford one. The prejudiced Classical Music SnotsTM can’t stand anything but a Steinway or Bösendorfer acoustic grand. I prefer a Steinway acoustic grand, but I don’t have the room for one nor could I afford one. For someone interested in taking private piano classes, I’d suggest they have a full-sized (88 keys) keyboard with a working damper pedal (not one that moves around on the floor as some do with keyboards) and weighted keys to emulate the feel of an acoustic piano. A student could start out with an electronic keyboard as long as the keys are the same size as on an acoustic piano, but I think the student might become frustrated with his/her “instrument” at home after playing my Digital piano or a fairly good acoustic piano. A good instrument at home can provide an incentive to a student to want to practise, if the student is seriously interested in learning the piano. But I’ve played on all kinds of pianos (some were terrible) so I know that having the ideal piano is not necessarily realistic or affordable, but that shouldn’t stop someone from taking private piano classes, if they are seriously and honestly interested. With my Digital Piano, maybe it’s because of the age of it (it’s an older model) but the RAM could not handle some of the thickest textures (lots of notes) of Rachmaninov, for example (his Etudes-Tableaux for example), so some notes would drop out while I was playing which was very annoying for me. Maybe the newer instruments have corrected that problem. Also, the damper pedal on a Digital piano should be in “levels” as on an acoustic for those who know how to and prefer to “pedal on the top” or use light pedaling as opposed to all the way down to the floor/over-pedaling. The sound of my Digital piano is superb overall, since it’s a digital sampling of a Kawaii Concert Grand. Never needs tuning and the notes at the top register sparkle and the bass sounds superb too. If I can think of anything else to add, I’ll edit this later. Gracias for your comment. Chau.

      1. FormerSanFranciscan

        That’s a very open-minded approach, unlike the……

        “Classical Music SnotsTM

        LOL. Love it!!! I know the people you’re talking about. I think I’ll steal that.

      2. Alejandro

        Hoooooola. You’ve played Etudes-Tableaux by Rachmaninov. I’ve heard some of those. They’re very difficult.

        Have you learned the Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto?

        1. rosa_barrio Post author

          Hola Alejandro. Does anyone ever learn the Rachmaninov Third? One well-known pianist said he never worked on it because the piece was impossible to play. It is a lifetime project. Some pianist who play it fairly often say they’ve never learned it and I understand what they mean by that. Although I did hear someone recently play it (with ease) and he seemed to have “learned it.” I’ve played it. Took about 9 months (intensively) from beginning to end for me to get through it, “learning it.” And I don’t have particularly large hands and some of those big, thick chords, ah! It’s a workout. It’s one of my favourite pieces. I think many pianists prefer to work on Rachmaninov’s solo piano pieces that don’t require an orchestra because the reality is that unless one is represented by an international agent or has “connections” the opportunities available for playing/soloing with an orchestra are rare.

          Vladimir Horowitz played it when he was in his 80s which is quite remarkable, although some of the Classical Music SnotsTM and others criticised his performance and said he didn’t play it very well. I’d like to see/hear them play that concerto as well as he did with the mind, the power, endurance and technical skill level at age 80 or so. I enjoyed his performance. He did have his piano action tailored for him (by his piano technician) to make the action very light for him, which probably made some difference. Gracias for your comment. Chau.

  3. rosa_barrio Post author

    I thought some readers might find this interesting (if not most unfortunate):

    Piano stores closing across US as fewer children taking up instrument, some deterred by cost

    I suspect everyone is too busy being addicted to their stupidphone and wasting hours glued to that, typing with their thumbs. How many people like Cristina Ortiz or Nelson Freire are out there (or child prodigies?) but will never be exposed to (classical) music or have the opportunity? Music classes have been cut from many if not most of the public school programmes in the US. But we have endless dinero/money for endless wars, endless drones and killing innocent people around the world in the name of some phony “war on terror,” nonsense but we don’t have dinero for music in the schools to help enrich people’s lives. That’s one indicator of a very sick society which this country (the US) is. SICK.

    It was music in my elementary school and my high school that inspired me and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as the high school Chorus piano accompanist, which was a very rewarding experience and really helped me progress as a pianist. Chau.

    1. rosa_barrio Post author

      Hola SF-Resident. Yes she does. She talked about that. She says “who cares whether you use your score or not?” I completely agree with her. She says for her it depends upon how much time she has to prepare a piece. She had just learned the piano concerto she was performing and didn’t feel she could play it from memory with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (years ago) so she used her score. The world didn’t stop spinning because of it! She said she uses smaller/reduced scores that she makes and has all the pages on it so there’s no need for a page turner. I’ve seen some organists do that too. (With those small pages, you have to have good eye sight though). She also was to play all five of the Villa-Lobos Piano Concerti in performances and she didn’t see how she could memorise 5 piano concerti in 3 months so she planned to use the scores for those performances. I don’t think most people have any problem with it. I think it’s the promoters/agents that hold to this “tradition” nonsense and they claim that “the artist doesn’t look prepared using the score.” Yet orchestra members always use their scores, so are they not “prepared?” Ludicrous! Over the years, I’ve asked people I know what they think about it and they said it didn’t matter to them one way or the other whether someone is using their score or not. I once knew a promoter who preferred that pianists perform “from memory” yet when she performed as a singer she used her score. Hypocrite. Gracias for your comment. Chau.

  4. Alejandro

    Ah, the Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana “Simon Bolívar.” They are spectacular! You know how to pick them. Gracias.

  5. D8

    I now have something to listen to and watch. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve watched the RVW video many times since you posted it. I think I could almost conduct it now I’ve heard it so many times! LOL.

    Like I said in my comment on your RVW article, I would never have found these performances on my own so many thanks for them. The things that Cristina Ortiz said in the interview are fascinating and make sense. I like knowing something about an artist while enjoying them. Don’t most people in the U.S. mispronounce Nelson’s last name?

    1. rosa_barrio Post author

      Hola D8, to answer your question: Yes they do. Most people in the US mispronounce all words that are not US-English. They consistently disrespect all international languages and try to put words from other languages into US-English rather than enlightening and educating themselves and pronouncing words as they are pronounced authentically in their original language, which is as it should be. The last name Freire is Portuguesa. Of course, USans demand and expect the people of the world to speak their precious US-English perfectly. Another example of The US of Hypocrisy. Enjoy a música. Gracias for your comment. Chau.

Fin. The End.