Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

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Lance
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Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by Lance » Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:57 am

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... US218_.jpg

I recently acquired Delos 3246, an all-Shostakovich program consisting of the Festive Overture, the Piano Concerto No. 2, and the Symphony No. 5, all recorded with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in an "actual reality recording." Reason was I have a great love for the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2, written for the composer's son, Maxim. The interest here is that Andrew Litton is not only the conductor but the pianist in this recording. I found it to be a very fine performance, but the listening levels are very low and the gain has to be made with a heavy turn of the volume control. We usually hear of American-born Andrew Litton — (NYC, 1959) [for some reason I always thought he was British] — as a conductor. It was interesting to see he recorded Shostakovich's first- and second piano concertos with Marc-André Hamelin (as conductor) for Hyperion. Apparently Litton has enjoyed a successful career as a conductor. Any opinions?
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John F
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Re: Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by John F » Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:06 am

I'd say Litton was at his best in Russian and Soviet music - that was part of his family tree. HHis career has taken an odd shape. He's been conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony (that may be why you thought he's English), the Dallas Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, and now the New York City Ballet. In effect, he's been moving sideways if not downwards.

Back in 1989 he conducted the Metropolitan Opera in "Eugene Onegin." He did this despite a ruptured appendix which must have given him excruciating pain; his mother Norma Litton was with him in the intermissions helping him to continue. I thought it was a very good performance - again, Russian music - and thought he might have a future at the Met. But this was his only appearance there; James Levine conducted the remaining performances of "Onegin," I thought very well.
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Re: Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by maestrob » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:02 pm

IIRC Litton was trained at Juilliard by Jean Morel, which explains why I've always liked his conducting. Incidentally, Bernstein also recorded the Shostakovich Concerto II leading from the keyboard in 1959, an exceptional reading that I play often.

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Re: Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by Beckmesser » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:25 pm

I've read through the Shostakovich Second Piano Concerto a few times and I didn't find it especially difficult. I suppose it had just the right degree of difficulty for the composer's son who was presumably an advanced piano student at the time.

Many pianists will recognize that the concerto contains a direct quote from an exercise by Charles-Louis Hanon who wrote hundreds of such exercises. I guess that was Shostakovich's little joke.

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Re: Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by Lance » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:50 am

I just learned something about that second piano concerto! Thank you, Beckmesser!
Beckmesser wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:25 pm
I've read through the Shostakovich Second Piano Concerto a few times and I didn't find it especially difficult. I suppose it had just the right degree of difficulty for the composer's son who was presumably an advanced piano student at the time.

Many pianists will recognize that the concerto contains a direct quote from an exercise by Charles-Louis Hanon who wrote hundreds of such exercises. I guess that was Shostakovich's little joke.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Beckmesser
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Re: Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by Beckmesser » Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:59 am

I just looked up the Wikipedia article on Hanon and discovered this paragraph:
Piano students all over the world know of Hanon’s famous training exercises. Both Sergei Rachmaninoff and Josef Lhévinne claimed Hanon to be the secret of why the Russian piano school delivered an explosion of virtuosi in their time, for the Hanon exercises have been obligatory for a long time throughout Russian conservatories; there were special examinations at which one had to know all exercises by heart, to be played in all keys at high speed.
If this is the case, then Maxim was probably thoroughly drilled in Hanon.

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Re: Andrew Litton, conductor/pianist

Post by Lance » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:16 pm

I remember HANON well! I studied it in my early days of learning to play the piano. I just would not have thought about Hanon linked Shostakovitch. But, I suppose it happens all the time between composers and getting their inspiration!
Beckmesser wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:59 am
I just looked up the Wikipedia article on Hanon and discovered this paragraph:
Piano students all over the world know of Hanon’s famous training exercises. Both Sergei Rachmaninoff and Josef Lhévinne claimed Hanon to be the secret of why the Russian piano school delivered an explosion of virtuosi in their time, for the Hanon exercises have been obligatory for a long time throughout Russian conservatories; there were special examinations at which one had to know all exercises by heart, to be played in all keys at high speed.
If this is the case, then Maxim was probably thoroughly drilled in Hanon.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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