Thursday, April 17, 2014

Are Collaborative Pianists the DJs of Classical Music?

Lost Vegas / cc
Lately I've been wondering about ways that we introduce and frame performers and their work, on the radio, on podcasts, on blogs, and on other platforms.

As a blogger, I have several options that I can run in the title when I feature a video. For the purposes of argument, I'll use this glorious live recording of Robert Koenig and Elmar Oliveira playing the final movement of John Corigliano's Violin Sonata.

Option 1: Traditional

The Final Movement of John Corliglian's Violin Sonata Played by Violinist Elmar Oliveira and Pianist Robert Koenig

That's a mouthful. With a long title like that, it's easy to lose an audience right off the bat, just by announcing the correct track details. They might never click on such a link given the length of information. It doesn't jump out.

Option 2: Non-Traditional

Corigliano Violin Sonata IV w/Robert Koenig feat. Elmar Oliveira

This title style is disruptive (with the pianist listed first) and highly EDM-influenced.

Option 3: Also Non-Traditional

Corigliano Violin Sonata IV w/Elmar Oliveira feat. Robert Koenig

This version, also using EDM nomenclature, is also disruptive in suggesting that the pianist is in some way "featured".

Option 4: Also Non-Traditional

Corigliano Violin Sonata IV w/Elmar Oliveira/Robert Koenig

The two names side-by-side might work the best. How to title classical music tracks remains a tricky issue and I still haven't come up with a clear solution.

While we're on the subject of electronic dance music - DJs in EDM often function as accompanists in classical music, creating backing tracks for solo singers and archiving, curating, and spinning tracks for shows that feature solo artists. In classical music there is perhaps a similar correlation with collaborative pianists, who because of multiple projects, often have many, many more concert appearances than the soloists that they work with.

Perhaps collaborative pianists are the DJs of classical music. They are the busiest performers. They are the overlooked curators and archivists of the tradition.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the musical culture was as interested in the performing projects of the collaborative pianists as in the solo artists themselves?

At any rate, the music needs to be introduced in such a way that it will come alive in new and interesting ways. We ignore this at our peril.

Bob and Elmar play so amazingly well together. Here's their video:

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