Sunday, November 05, 2006

Recording of the Adagio

It is hard to find a more satisfying piece of music than Mozart's Clarinet Concert in A major. This transcendent and golden beauty are warm and touching, especially its Adagio. Its beauty matches its simplicity. It was composed in October, 1791, two months before his death. Mozart composed many clarinet pieces for his friend, Anton Stadler, who was a clarinetist of greater virtuosity than any person known at that time. When confronted with brilliance approaching his own, Mozart's inspiration knew no bounds and with Stadler in mind, his imagination soared high. What is that the clarinet can do that so obviously affected Mozart? Most likely the answer is in this instrument's ability to mimic the range and emotions produced by the human voice. Mozart noted the clarinet's ability to sing with a warmth of feeling not unlike that produced by the greatest of singers, thus enabling him to compose the music which touched a deeply human chord. Although this piece is in A major, it is played by a Bb clarinet. Because of many notes in the low register, it is impossible for me to play it with a 12 hole chromatic harmonica and I have to resort to use a 16 hole C key chromatic harmonica.
Special care is handled technically because of double transposing which may presents lack of smoothness in execution of notes that are mostly in legato.
To the best of my knowledge, this piece has never been played by a harmonica, recording and producing it presents a really challenge to me.

Anthony Lau (1st November, 2006)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Recording of the Trumpet Concerto in Eb

The Recording of the Trumpet Concerto in Eb
By Franz Josef Haydn

At young age, The Trumpet Concert in Eb by Haydn (1732-1809), attracted my attention because the beauty of the melodies and of the amazing orchestration. Haydn composed this work in 1796, for a trumpeter who used the newly invented trumpet which has keys. The piece has three movements, Allegro, Anante Cantabile, and Allegro. This is the most popular piece that every classical trumpeter wishes to play. To play it with an chromatic harmonica is a adventurous attemp and a new challenge. I say to myself, if I can do it, it will bring the chromatic harmonica to a new level. In order to see whether it is possible for a chromatic harmonica to play it , I need to secure the score and study the content of the pieces in details. I eventually bought the score in 2000. After analyzing the structure of the music, I came to a conclusion that it can be done and there is absolutely no need of arrangement. However, I have had other pieces in mind to put on the CDs which came out in 2002, 2004 and 2006 as listed out in my website :, I decided to put it on my No.4 CD. The recording was in early September, 2006. By 20.10.2006, the it was done. After listening to the proof, I was very satisfied for the result. The 1st movement is attached herewith to share with harmonica lovers.

Sound track : 1st Movement, Trumpet Concerto in Eb by Haydn

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Classical Harmonica - What does it mean ?

It means a player to play classical music by the use of a chromatic harmonica. Chromatic harmonica has the capability and versatility , same as other musical instruments, to play music using chromatic notes when requires. The arrangement of a chromatic harmonica is similar to a piano in keys . Depending on the types of chromatic harmonica, its range may excess 4 octaves in scales. It was invented about 80 years ago and is considered a young member in the family of musical instruments. The sound of a chromatic harmonica is beautiful and attractive, and is full of expression. Recognizing its potentials , noted modern composers, such as Vaughan Williams, Arthur Benjamin, Francis Chagrin etc, have composed works for this instrument, some with symphony accompaniments. Instrumental music for the flute, clarinet, oboe and recorders from old masters such as Bach, Handel, Haydn, are very suitable to be played by a chromatic harmonica. Some works for the violin may also be played without losing their charms and beauties. In my website, , sample music for various instruments can be listened , as vivid demonstrations.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) – BY MAYNARD SOLOMON (2nd Addition)

Maynard Solomon’s Beethoven has long been firmly established among music lovers and scholars alike as the standard modern biography of Beethoven. This second, revised edition further illuminates the human dimension that underlies a series of creative events unique in the history of civilization.

With prominent composers like Bach, Handel, Hadyn, Mozart etc, before him, Beethoven, though a talented virtuoso and composer, was not immediately accepted as an outstanding composer in his early youth by music critics . A proud man, with fiery temper, his greatness in music was humbled by his deafness starting at young age and it worsen when he attained of age 28, as we learned of this from a celebrated document, dated October, 6 and 10th, 1802 found among his papers after his death, that is now known as the Heiligenatadt Testament addressed to his brother (excerpt):

"For my brother Carl,

Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you. From childhood on, my heart and soul have been full of the tender feelings of goodwill, and I was inclined to accomplish great things. Though born with a fiery, active temperament, I was soon compelled to withdraw myself, to live life alone.

What a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair: a little more of that and I would have ended my life – It was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence……..” (page 154).

Very fortunately that Beethoven did not end his life otherwise we will not be inherited with his immortal music, a legacy for the enjoyment of mankind .

Anthony Lau , Vancouver, B.C., Canada 5th June, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Mozart : A Life by Maynard Solomon

Mozart : A Life by Maynard Solomon

Concerts are performed all over the world to celebrate the 250th birthday of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Mozart is known because he is a prodigy. His music is easy to be enjoyed. The melody is simple and pleasing to the ears. In quoting from the author’s words (Page 3- Titled, The Myth of Eternal Child), one can understand what Mozart possessed “ The child Mozart was examined by several eminent observers,who authenticated his gifts and issued glowing scientific reports describing his prodigious talents. The English magistrate and scholar Daines Barrington visited nine-year-old Mozart in London and put him to several tests, offering his conclusion to the Royal Society in London, which published them in its Philosophical Transaction of 1770. After much initial skepticism, he confirmed that the child possessed what the music historian Charles Burney called “premature and almost supernatural talents.” This book has been heralded as satisfying and

moving. A highly recommended book to read by music lovers. This book is published by HarperPerennial, a division of HarperCollins Publisher.

You may buy this book by clicking the link below: (The first link will bring you to the USA site, the second to the Canadian Site.

Why I Play the Harmonica

Why I play harmonica instead of traditional instruments such as piano, violin, clarinet, oboe etc. The main reason is that harmonica, especially, chromatic harmonica, has beautiful sound. It is cheap in price and easy to be carried around. It is also easy to play a tune than other instruments. Chromatic harmonica was invented about 80 years ago and is still a young instrument comparing with others. Noted composers, such as Vaughn Williams, Arthur Benjamin, Charles Chagrin etc, realizing its capability and versatility, have written works for it accompanied by a string or a full orchestra. To be able to play a tune easily by the harmonica sometimes is a curse instead of a blessing because some harmonica players ignore the standard requirement of an instrument player in term of basic musical trainings such as reading of music notes, learning music theory, doing scale practice, musicality, etc. I therefore have a mission to promote the art of classical harmonica playing with the hope of elevating the status of the chromatic harmonica as a serious concert instrument. Up to now, I have produced three CDs of which the repertoire include works for the violin, oboe, flute, clarinet by great classical composers. To listen to the samples, please go to Mr. Harmonica’s website :


As our website continues to grow and CD's sales are up we thought that we would get into this new phenomenum known as blogging. Stay tuned as I make regular entries, share updates, upcoming events, articles and more. Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified whenever I make a new entry.