The piano in the corner

I have not found myself able to write either about my academic work, local affairs, or the wide world — even as I anxiously watch events unfolding in Iran. What I can offer is a discovery in online music.

robertftruciosMagnatune.com has a certain downloadable album of classical piano music — an album that perhaps could not have been made before music went online, and that some will sneer at. Robert F. Trucios introduces From the Lobby of the Cooper Arms this way:

The piano, a bruised Brambach baby grand, lies at rest in a quiet corner of the still majestic grand lobby of the Cooper Arms, one of a handful of resort high-rise beach apartments and hotels to pop up on the shoreline of Long Beach in the 1920’s. This cool ornate interior serves as a communal living room, echoing with activity and sheltering the building’s residents and visitors from the noise of the world outside.

I descend the elevator, say my hellos and walk to the corner of the lobby, music in hand.

I sit down and play for a while.

You can listen to the results here (or here for low bandwidth).

If nothing else, this recording is a historical document, preserving the imperfections of the typical 20th-century piano that never saw the inside of a concert hall or recording studio. The imperfect tuning, mysterious clicks and pops, and uncooperative acoustics are typical of the vast majority of impromptu piano concerts in homes, halls, and lobbies. I’m delighted that someone took the trouble to capture all this in a recording — and that the recording is this listenable.

Robert F. Trucios is a graphic designer and talented amateur pianist. On Cooper Arms he records a judicious selection of both standard and interesting short piano pieces. (“Claire de lune” is here, but not “Für Elise” or, thank God, “The Entertainer.”) Classical mavens will already have “definitive” recordings of all of them, but they won’t have anything like this.

You may find it worth looking into a Magnatune membership. Magnatune only sells on the Web and splits proceeds 50-50 with musicians. For a flat monthly fee, you can either stream or download unlimited amounts of music from the company’s catalog. It’s a little heavy on electronica and New Age for my taste, and the company is a bit dense about classical and pre-classical titles. Still, there is plenty of good music to discover here.

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