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Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? #1518454
09/19/10 01:18 PM
09/19/10 01:18 PM
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EDV Offline OP
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Okay, I know you've probably never heard of him, and
Chopin being one of the most recorded composers ever makes this a bold choice. BUT... the sound he brings out of that piano... particularly his Chopin... is simply awe-inspiring. Everything sounds so spontaneous and fresh, almost improvised which is exactly how Chopin should sound...the vitality, energy, intensity, drama and excitement of the music is perfectly conveyed...with other great players it's always too fast, or too careful. Not with Iturbi.
Hear for yourselves:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whqxHIeSGn0

Other parts of the movie show more of his playing (Chopin is played by Cornel Wilde), I highly recommend you watch it.


Last edited by EDV; 09/19/10 01:21 PM.
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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518465
09/19/10 01:35 PM
09/19/10 01:35 PM
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Elene Offline
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The whole idea of "A Song to Remember" makes me so physically ill that I'm afraid I can't stay with this video long enough to give Iturbi's playing a good listen. I'll have to try to hear him in some other context.

Elene

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518469
09/19/10 01:41 PM
09/19/10 01:41 PM
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????

Sorry - but from what I just saw....

Sounds like a lot of banging to me.

Maybe I got up on the wrong side of the bed? <BG>


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518471
09/19/10 01:45 PM
09/19/10 01:45 PM
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I wouldn't go so far as to say that Iturbi was "the greatest Chopin interpreter ever" nor, I believe, would the critics. If he were such a great interpreter of Chopin, he would be on every major list of Chopin specialists. However, he is not.

He had a solid training and good musical background, although he made most of his fame with the general public through his association with Hollywood and the films in which he appeared.

His recordings of Chopin do not appear on many lists of "must-haves" that I have seen.

I'm not saying he's not a good pianist; in fact, some of my first introduction to Chopin through recordings was through those of Iturbi, so I do have a bit of fondness for him. I don't believe, however, that that fondness is based on an elevated critical assessment of his Chopin performances.

If you enjoy his playing, however, that should be all that matters to you.

His name continues to live on in Jose Iturbi International Music Competitions which this year had four winners in the piano category and four in the vocal category. The first prize winner in each was awarded $10,000.00

His musical and artistic legacy is somewhat dismissed by Groves for example :

"He was the most famous Spanish pianist of his day, with a large popular following. Some critics held reservations about his Beethoven and Chopin, but his playing of the music of his native land [Spain] was keenly enjoyable" idiomatic, ebullient and vital."

It seems to me somewhat ironic that you should consider him such a great interpreter of Chopin whereas the critics find that in Chopin's music his playing and interpretations were the most questioned.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518478
09/19/10 01:56 PM
09/19/10 01:56 PM
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Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
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That was great, but I really want to know where those orchestrations came from!

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518483
09/19/10 02:01 PM
09/19/10 02:01 PM
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Yeah, and like Chopin ever did a concert tour of Europe.

Elene

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518485
09/19/10 02:03 PM
09/19/10 02:03 PM
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I found this and thought it was charming. smile


Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: Elene] #1518491
09/19/10 02:08 PM
09/19/10 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Elene
Yeah, and like Chopin ever did a concert tour of Europe.

Elene


In all fairness to the OP, there was no question about the factual accuracy of A Song to Remember; it's typical 1940's Hollywood hashing of reality.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: BruceD] #1518493
09/19/10 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD

His recordings of Chopin do not appear on many lists of "must-haves" that I have seen.

I don't think he was as prolific as some of the other greats of the day, and he probably didn't tour as extensively either. But at the end of the day, I only need to hear a few minutes worth to assess the quality of anyone's playing. Iturbi,s Chopin has that "fire"...that "personality" that I see lacking in many others. Also the way it's presented in the "concert highlights" segment, kind of takes you back to that era...

Last edited by EDV; 09/19/10 02:13 PM.
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518502
09/19/10 02:25 PM
09/19/10 02:25 PM
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Here, as opposed to there
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by EDV
I only need to hear a few minutes worth to assess the quality of anyone's playing.


To determine what? I think you might consider investing in a bit more listening time, but then taste is what it is and no more.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: BruceD] #1518513
09/19/10 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD

In all fairness to the OP, there was no question about the factual accuracy of A Song to Remember; it's typical 1940's Hollywood hashing of reality.


Too true, Bruce, and some of the more recent movies about Chopin and his friends are as bad or worse, but I still have a very strong sense of queasiness about it that, like I said, makes it hard for me to evaluate Iturbi's playing.

If a particular player's renditions speak to a particular listener in a deep way, at any rate, that player has accomplished something worthwhile.

Elene

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: Elene] #1518544
09/19/10 03:36 PM
09/19/10 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Elene
Originally Posted by BruceD

In all fairness to the OP, there was no question about the factual accuracy of A Song to Remember; it's typical 1940's Hollywood hashing of reality.


Too true, Bruce, and some of the more recent movies about Chopin and his friends are as bad or worse, but I still have a very strong sense of queasiness about it that, like I said, makes it hard for me to evaluate Iturbi's playing.

If a particular player's renditions speak to a particular listener in a deep way, at any rate, that player has accomplished something worthwhile.

Elene


... and as we've often observed hereabouts, "Impromptu" has to be one of the worst offenders in the evoking of queasiness!

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518577
09/19/10 04:24 PM
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This is silly. Everyone knows that Horowitz is the greatest Chopin interpreter! wink

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: Damon] #1518607
09/19/10 05:44 PM
09/19/10 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Damon
This is silly. Everyone knows that Horowitz is the greatest Chopin interpreter! wink


NO YOU ARE WRONG RUBINSTEIN ARE BETTAR.

wink

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: Orange Soda King] #1518628
09/19/10 06:10 PM
09/19/10 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by Damon
This is silly. Everyone knows that Horowitz is the greatest Chopin interpreter! wink


NO YOU ARE WRONG RUBINSTEIN ARE BETTAR.

wink


NOOOO! SOLOMON CUTNER IS!!!


All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518656
09/19/10 07:08 PM
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well, Iturbi isn't in any case, and Ruby and Vladi did cope well, but are of a different age, now it could be Zimerman/Perrahia/Tharaud fi.


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518676
09/19/10 07:53 PM
09/19/10 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by EDV
Okay, I know you've probably never heard of him, and
Chopin being one of the most recorded composers ever makes this a bold choice. BUT... the sound he brings out of that piano... particularly his Chopin... is simply awe-inspiring. Everything sounds so spontaneous and fresh, almost improvised which is exactly how Chopin should sound...the vitality, energy, intensity, drama and excitement of the music is perfectly conveyed...with other great players it's always too fast, or too careful. Not with Iturbi.
Hear for yourselves:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whqxHIeSGn0

Other parts of the movie show more of his playing (Chopin is played by Cornel Wilde), I highly recommend you watch it.



After hearing about "A Song to Remember" all my life, I finally had the opportunity to view it on the Turner Classic Movie Channel a couple of weeks ago. This 1945 film is pure fiction - from start to finish. Cornel Wilde received an Oscar nomination for his one-dimensional performance. Paul Muni's portrayal of Chopin's teacher was, at best, annoying, and Merle Oberon's impersonation of George Sand was simply over the top. Iturbi's playing throughout the film is consistently "ROBUST." Of course, a more subtle or historically accurate approach probably wouldn't have resonated as well with movie audiences of the time. The film was extremely popular - and it did much to increase the general public's awareness of Chopin's music. It also inspired Liberace to use a candelabra as a prop on his TV show a few years later. Guess I'll order "Impromptu" on Netflix - and make sure I have a dramamine handy just in case.... smokin


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518686
09/19/10 08:18 PM
09/19/10 08:18 PM
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Of course it's fiction! I still enjoyed it from the perspective of being a fictional movie, and using names/music I know.

My sit-com "Fred and Chuck" will probably be just as much fiction, but classical musicians will hopefully get a kick out of it! wink

Especially Mark C. and dolce sfogato.

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518689
09/19/10 08:27 PM
09/19/10 08:27 PM
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The orchestrations left me howling maniacally on the floor with blood gushing out of my ears.

And I'm pretty sure that kind of bangy piano playing is the exact opposite of what Chopin would've intended.

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518693
09/19/10 08:33 PM
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Well, I know A Song to Remember is (as I heard it described once) "a wild piece of gorgeous junk" smile , but I first saw it on B&W TV (so the blood-on-the-keys scene was less thrilling) at the age of 12 and it changed my life. Really.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518705
09/19/10 09:12 PM
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I love watching Iturbi in those old movies on TCM. Not the Chopin movie, but the ones where he is essentially playing himself. They are pure Hollywood - the plots are silly and artificial, the situations preposterous, but the music is so much fun to watch. They have odd camera angles and over-the-top pianos. Saw one the other day where they must have cut the soundboard out of the piano to get the shot. You really can't take it seriously - just relax and enjoy.

I think Iturbi really shines with the jazz piano. There's one movie with Jeannette McDonald as the co-star where he plays "Route 66" - great stuff.

Yeah, I spend too much time watching old movies on TCM - the only TV I watch anymore. Ever see "Carnegie Hall"? You get to see Rubinstein in that one, and a real blast from the past - an all male orchestra...

Sam

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: currawong] #1518709
09/19/10 09:16 PM
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I did not like that film at all. As to Iturbi, I think his association with Hollywood damaged his reputation (same happened to Oscar Levant and Percy Grainger)

He was not a piano "banger", but I can't recall that he was ever considered a "chopinist" I read a quote from William Kapell who thought he was "a wonderful pianist. The evenest playing I know". BTW his sister Amparo Iturbi also was a very good pianist. I have never checked their discography, but I suspect is not very large.


Uncle George

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518730
09/19/10 10:11 PM
09/19/10 10:11 PM
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Last month I initiated a PW thread on Iturbi.

Here's the link...


http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1493185/Jose%20Iturbi.html#Post1493185


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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1518947
09/20/10 09:21 AM
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I like Iturbi's playing, but never thought it to be at the very top level. There's something about his phrasing in certain pieces, like the A-flat Polonaise, that doesn't work for me.

Also, to me the idea of a greatest Chopin interpreter is a bit of a specious one. I've never heard one pianist who played every piece by a given composer with the highest authority. In Chopin, I prefer the young Rubinstein in the Nocturnes, middle-aged Rubinstein in the Polonaises, Horowitz and Kapell in the Mazurkas, and Zimerman and Primakov in the concertos. Same thing with Beethoven, where I prefer, say Kempff in the first three Sonatas, Serkin in the last three, and Richter in the Appassionata.

By the way, Iturbi was not the only pianist to "ghost" in Hollywood films: Rubinstein and Nyiregyhazi provided accompaniments as well. In his autobiography, Rubinstein related how he had to imagine how certain works would have been played by Robert and Clara Schumann, and Liszt. Horowitz was apparently offered $100,000 to provide the piano soundtrack in a movie (this was in the 1940s, when he lived in California and $100k was a LOT of money) but refused.


Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
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Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: Hank Drake] #1519052
09/20/10 11:58 AM
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I have to admit to call Iturbi the greatest was a little exaggerated. There are at least half a dozen other Chopin interpreters that could claim that honour. Horowitz, in my view, was the most creative, Perahia the most elegant, Novaes the most exciting, Sgouros the most virtuosic, and so on, each player brings something unique to the recording studio. I will say that Iturbi is still one of my favourites though, and while it's true that Chopin would have played in a more delicate and elegant manner, I find Iturbi's vigorous and passionate approach perfectly suited to the music. It's closer to the way Liszt would have played it.

Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1519097
09/20/10 01:20 PM
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I'm sure he is a great pianist, but I really did not like what I heard in your posted video.


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: BruceD] #1519103
09/20/10 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD

In all fairness to the OP, there was no question about the factual accuracy of A Song to Remember; it's typical 1940's Hollywood hashing of reality.

Are things any different now?
Quote

... and as we've often observed hereabouts, "Impromptu" has to be one of the worst offenders in the evoking of queasiness!

Like '2012', I was physically unable to get through that film. IMO, vomitous!


Jason
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1519232
09/20/10 04:55 PM
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Maybe the term 'camp' will put him in the right niche..


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1519238
09/20/10 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Maybe the term 'camp' will put him in the right niche..


euhh... please explain?

Last edited by Victor25; 09/20/10 05:04 PM.

Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Jose Iturbi - the greatest Chopin interpreter ever? [Re: EDV] #1519246
09/20/10 05:10 PM
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CAMP


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
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