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Interpretative Freedom #1921204
06/30/12 05:13 PM
06/30/12 05:13 PM
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Okiikahuna Offline OP
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I was going to put this quotation into another thread that is now locked. What do you think of this quote from an interesting review in the London Times of an 1840 Liszt recital:

"His performance commenced with Handel's Fugue in E-minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


From Kenneth Hamilton, After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism & Modern Performance (citing Williams, Portraits of Liszt: By Himself and His Contemporaries)

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Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921208
06/30/12 05:27 PM
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I was trying to answer the previous thread, but now I'll say this: we, students, were to prepareer the 1st Nocturne by Chopin, we were 12, we had a week, we met on the next saturday, sat down and one after the other we played the op.9/1. We all tried to observe all the dynamics, speed markings etc, and 12 beautiful different renditions came out, so?


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921281
06/30/12 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
"His performance commenced with Handel's Fugue in E-minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


So, I take it that of the 71 or so people who have read this quote, none find it at all remarkable that

(1) Liszt apparently felt comfortable adding “a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies” to his performance of a Handel fugue.

(2) a contemporary reviewer, hearing him doing so, saw this as a rather conservative and restrained interpretation, notable for making “scarcely any additions” to the original score.

(3) Neither Liszt nor the reviewer thereby earned himself a spot on Stores’ “not to be taken seriously” list.


Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921287
06/30/12 10:59 PM
06/30/12 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
"His performance commenced with Handel's Fugue in E-minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


So, I take it that of the 71 or so people who have read this quote, none find it at all remarkable that

(1) Liszt apparently felt comfortable adding “a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies” to his performance of a Handel fugue.

(2) a contemporary reviewer, hearing him doing so, saw this as a rather conservative and restrained interpretation, notable for superimposing “scarcely any additions” to the original score.

(3) Neither Liszt nor the reviewer thereby earned himself a spot on Stores’ “not to be taken seriously” list.



Ha-ha-ha! Actually, I found the quote fascinating, germaine, and validating! As one of the 71, though, I just didn't know what to say that would have been much of a contribution... Thanks for posting the quote, though! (How's that? grin )

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921289
06/30/12 11:15 PM
06/30/12 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
"His performance commenced with Handel's Fugue in E-minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


So, I take it that of the 71 or so people who have read this quote, none find it at all remarkable that

(1) Liszt apparently felt comfortable adding “a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies” to his performance of a Handel fugue.

(2) a contemporary reviewer, hearing him doing so, saw this as a rather conservative and restrained interpretation, notable for making “scarcely any additions” to the original score.

(3) Neither Liszt nor the reviewer thereby earned himself a spot on Stores’ “not to be taken seriously” list.



That's pretty impatient of you. I did like the juxtaposition of the phrases "adding a multitude" and "scarcely any additions" and I'm not impressed that stores has a "not to be taken seriously" list.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921296
06/30/12 11:34 PM
06/30/12 11:34 PM
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I don't find it particularly remarkable - improvisation was quite common in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Today's attitudes towards interpretation are horribly stifling. I'm pretty sure Beethoven, Liszt, and company would find our blind devotion to strict urtext realizations of their works completely absurd.

Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
"His performance commenced with Handel's Fugue in E-minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


So, I take it that of the 71 or so people who have read this quote, none find it at all remarkable that

(1) Liszt apparently felt comfortable adding “a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies” to his performance of a Handel fugue.

(2) a contemporary reviewer, hearing him doing so, saw this as a rather conservative and restrained interpretation, notable for making “scarcely any additions” to the original score.

(3) Neither Liszt nor the reviewer thereby earned himself a spot on Stores’ “not to be taken seriously” list.



"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921301
06/30/12 11:42 PM
06/30/12 11:42 PM
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I think that if the reviewer knew about meretricious ornaments, he spent too much time in brothels.


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Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921317
07/01/12 02:14 AM
07/01/12 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
(3) Neither Liszt nor the reviewer thereby earned himself a spot on Stores’ “not to be taken seriously” list.



Which is precisely the reason why Stores should not be taken seriously. He has a mean talk, but in reality he is just a hypocritical old man who spends his time concocting fantasies about himself and Yuja Wang on internet forums. 90% of the filth he spews is either an insult or a unjustified opinion and can thus be disregarded without care.

I will probably be banned for pointing that out, since he has managed to lure many of the mods and members into believing his fantasies, but I really don't care. Someone had to say it.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921344
07/01/12 05:49 AM
07/01/12 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
"His performance commenced with Handel's Fugue in E-minor, which was played by Liszt with an avoidance of everything approaching to meretricious ornament, and indeed scarcely any additions, except a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


So, I take it that of the 71 or so people who have read this quote, none find it at all remarkable that

(1) Liszt apparently felt comfortable adding “a multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies” to his performance of a Handel fugue.

(2) a contemporary reviewer, hearing him doing so, saw this as a rather conservative and restrained interpretation, notable for making “scarcely any additions” to the original score.

(3) Neither Liszt nor the reviewer thereby earned himself a spot on Stores’ “not to be taken seriously” list.



Well, I've read the book, so it's not really news to me. Even before reading that particular book (which I highly recommend (and it was interesting to see it mentioned in the recent Rodzinski interview linked here)), there were many little tidbits turning up that told me that earlier attitudes towards composed music were quite a bit looser than those of today. Which means, for one thing, that it is a good idea to attempt to triangulate this kind of knowledge of what was going on with what composers of the time actually expected to happen with their published music. Even if, like Chopin, they could get snarky about deviations from their scores, that doesn't mean that they actually expected their scores to be sacrosanct. And certainly not in the way they are now.


Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1921350
07/01/12 06:29 AM
07/01/12 06:29 AM
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Quote
multitude of ingeniously contrived and appropriate harmonies casting a glow of color over the beauties of the composition and infusing into it a spirit which from no other hand it ever before received."


These days it means he added two bass notes.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: wr] #1921414
07/01/12 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Well, I've read the book, so it's not really news to me. Even before reading that particular book (which I highly recommend (and it was interesting to see it mentioned in the recent Rodzinski interview linked here)), there were many little tidbits turning up that told me that earlier attitudes towards composed music were quite a bit looser than those of today.


Yes, its an excellent book. So good, in fact, that I find myself completely convinced and sort of swept away by the author's arguments. I started this thread, by essentially parroting one of the author's points, because I would like to gain a little critical distance from the author's thesis. A debate among some of the very knowledgable and opiniated people on this board would be an excellent way to gain that critical distance.

With all due respect to Polyphasicpianist, I think Stores is very knowledgable, highly opinionated and would probably profoundly disagree with the second paragraph in Kreisler's post. I also think Kreisler is very knowledgable and would no doubt defend his position. Just the ticket for a great debate from which I could learn much.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1922154
07/03/12 09:18 AM
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We live in a puritanical age, musically speaking. Any classical performer - pianist or otherwise - who dares to deviate from the norm, whether in tempo, rubato, dynamics or phrasing - gets castigated by reviewers (including on this forum grin) who presumably have a hot line to the composer which the performer obviously lacks, conveniently forgetting the fact that many composers of the Romantic era (especially) never expected performers to stick to the letter of their scores. Yet we choose to ignore some composers' detailed markings (like Beethoven's metronome) when it suits us (because it's too difficult, or it's 'received wisdom' - but whose?) but insist on everything else.

How many pianists and critics have ever heard the one pianist who has as near a hotline to a great Romantic composer (Chopin) as it's possible to get - separated by just one teacher (Mikuli)? Yet Raoul Koczalski's many recordings of Chopin are easily accessible, and in them one can hear the interpretative freedom in rhythm, rubato and tempo which elevates Chopin like a good bel canto singer elevates Bellini. Instead, these days we get metronomic Chopin and Liszt, and stilted rubati, and any pianist who dares to play with real personality is condemned for his 'excesses'. But ask many pianists (good ones who've lived a life....) and they'll say that their favorite pianist was Cortot...


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1922428
07/04/12 12:18 AM
07/04/12 12:18 AM
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I think there are just plenty of bad pianists (and bad interpretations) as opposed to society pressuring pianists to play blandly. A lot of interpretations that I severely dislike mostly come from being totally ignorant of a musical line (Lisitsa and LL?), those who choose to slam the heck out of the piano at presto for no reason (Yundi Li?), and people who ignore an obvious melodic line and choose to accent another totally insignificant part for sheer effect (Yuja Wang and Olga Kern).

And hardly "metronomic" Chopin and Liszt - it seems to be like some sort of singer-inherited disease that makes pianists unable to keep a steady tempo...


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1922458
07/04/12 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Okiikahuna
Originally Posted by wr
Well, I've read the book, so it's not really news to me. Even before reading that particular book (which I highly recommend (and it was interesting to see it mentioned in the recent Rodzinski interview linked here)), there were many little tidbits turning up that told me that earlier attitudes towards composed music were quite a bit looser than those of today.


Yes, its an excellent book. So good, in fact, that I find myself completely convinced and sort of swept away by the author's arguments. I started this thread, by essentially parroting one of the author's points, because I would like to gain a little critical distance from the author's thesis. A debate among some of the very knowledgable and opiniated people on this board would be an excellent way to gain that critical distance.



I think probably the most useful critical distance to get from the book is simply to think about what all that means to us now. We can't recapture the past, nor can we recreate the circumstances in which all that interpretative freedom happened. It not just about music, after all, but about huge cultural changes that are not going to be reversed just because we know that things used to be very different. After all, extremely over-the-top melodrama used to be popular, but I don't think that most people could relate to that kind of thing these days. Even reading old letters and newspapers from the 19th century tells us that people's sensibilities were really quite different than they are today.

Personally, I often like larger-than-life and extreme interpretations when it comes to performance of 19th century music, but I can see why it doesn't appeal to many. It's just not part of the zeitgeist, or at least hasn't been for a while. But I think I am sensing a shift. Who knows what may be next....




Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: wr] #1922468
07/04/12 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by wr


Personally, I often like larger-than-life and extreme interpretations when it comes to performance of 19th century music, but I can see why it doesn't appeal to many. It's just not part of the zeitgeist, or at least hasn't been for a while. But I think I am sensing a shift. Who knows what may be next....





I believe it's the advent of the recording age that started the beginning of uniformity of interpretations which has grown over the years as the last of the great 'Romantic pianists' passed away (Horowitz, Cherkassky, Wild..). Most people nowadays have heard music on CDs or Youtube before they hear the same for the first time in concert, and expect the latter to be similar to the recordings, hence also the decreased tolerance for wrong notes as well as what is their idea of the 'correct' interpretations.

During the 'Golden Age', interpretations vary wildly and pianists were expected to stamp their own personality on the music (just listen to Rachmaninoff playing Chopin or Schumann), including improvising preludes and postludes, linking pieces together, even making changes to the score. Chopin himself was a very different pianist to Liszt, but said he wished he could 'steal' Liszt's way with his Polonaises. (And one can imagine how Liszt might have played Chopin's Op.53....). Would that pianists, audiences, students, teachers, critics etc these days have as wide a range of sympathies, rather than simply castigating any pianist who dares to be different from them, or what they were taught, or their idealized version of what is 'correct'....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: bennevis] #1922552
07/04/12 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I believe it's the advent of the recording age that started the beginning of uniformity of interpretations which has grown over the years as the last of the great 'Romantic pianists' passed away (Horowitz, Cherkassky, Wild..). Most people nowadays have heard music on CDs or Youtube before they hear the same for the first time in concert, and expect the latter to be similar to the recordings, hence also the decreased tolerance for wrong notes as well as what is their idea of the 'correct' interpretations.
But all the pianists you mention(and many others from that time), with their different interpretations, can be heard in countless recordings. With so many recordings of pieces available, which interpretation do you think people are expecting to hear(not that I think most people are expecting a certain interpretation)?

I have almost never heard a reviewer make the main thrust of his criticism the number of wrong notes so I don't think fear of playing these is nearly as much of an issue as you say. I also think that the majority of great pianists of the past had terrific technique and did not make many more mistakes in performance compared to today's pianists. Finally, I'd guess that at this point in time most people realize that concert or studio recordings can be corrected for wrong notes so they do not expect such note perfect playing in performance.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Kreisler] #1922674
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
I don't find it particularly remarkable - improvisation was quite common in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Today's attitudes towards interpretation are horribly stifling. I'm pretty sure Beethoven, Liszt, and company would find our blind devotion to strict urtext realizations of their works completely absurd.


Liszt, certainly; he was so renowned for his spontaneous in-fillings that no doubt the reviewer on the cited occasion was thoroughly surprised to hear Liszt for once deliver a "straight" rendition. The same interpretative freedom characterizes his playing and teaching of his own piano-works: in his classes he would often think up and write out cadenzas or "ossias" for particular students, submit re-worked passages to publishers issuing new editions, and, most famously, there are the multiple, entirely recomposed versions of many of his most important works. (Perhaps significantly, the Sonata is an exception.)

Interpretative freedom was regarded by 19th C. editors, too, as both legitimate and expected (at any rate, before the scholarly Urtext movement took off in the 1880s). Classic illustrations are Czerny's Bach edition and Von Buelow's Beethoven edition; as a conductor, the latter's performances of orchestral classics exhibited an equal degree of interpretative freedom.

However, although free improvisation was an expected performance skill for Beethoven and virtuosos in general up until the mid-19th C, there's plentiful evidence from Beethoven that, as regards interpretation of his published works, he wished for scrupulous observance of his notation - for example, his fury at his leading violinist's (Schuppanzigh) suggestion to substitute a less difficult way of bowing for that specified by Beethoven in the score, and any number of letters to publishers urging exactness in matters of printing his markings. Historically Beethoven seems to have been the first composer to express the strength of his concern for such matters throughout his mature career. Schumann's correspondence with his own publishers indicates the same concern.

Among 19th C. performers, Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Alkan were notable for the strictness of their performance styles, both as regards observance of notation and metrical flow. Yehudi Menuhin maintained that successful conveying of Schubert's music (which is again exceptionally rich in notational markings) depends crucially upon maintaining a predominantly unwavering tempo. Anton Rubinstein insisted upon his pupils' meticulous adherence to every detail of a score until he was satisfied they had thoroughly mastered and musically assimilated the composer's own, actually indicated requirements, and only then grant them permission to explore freer interpretative possibilities of their own.

So, it seems there existed different schools, each with its own views on interpretative freedom and its contribution to artful (and artless!) music-making. Personally I'd be wary of stating any generalizations on the desirability of interpretative freedom other than at the level of the individual composition - and if any such generalizations are to become stateable, they will necessarily emerge only by way of intimacy with, and one's personal perception of, a composition's peculiar characteristics and spirit. It's these things that hold the key to the difference in impact created by, say, one Beethoven sonata (or sonata movement) and another or one Chopin mazurka and another, and equally, by one great pianist's performance of a certain work and another's. That was exactly the point Anton Rubinstein was trying to instil in his students. He was thoroughly aware that composers as imaginative as Beethoven or Chopin were entirely capable of producing works that were individually unique in their expressive content, each requiring the musician to determine a uniquely appropriate interpretative style for expressing it. As regards cultivating musicians' ability to do that, few ideas could surely be more stifling than across-the-board generalizations about what composers of a particular age would typically have thought, expected, demanded and resorted to in performance!

I really don't find today's attitudes towards interpretation stifling. Yes, Urtext editions are standard sources for all professional classical musicians nowadays, yet far from finding myself being subjected to nothing but "strict urtext realizations" (which, as I argued above, are humanly impossible although achievable by computer software, e.g. Sibelius), I'm struck and continually amazed by the staggering diversity that today's instrumentalists offer interpretatively, performances at once erudite, fascinating and, surprisingly often, convincing! We all tend to think the Golden Age of this or that as having occurred in the somewhat distant past, but in this area, to my mind music today has never been healthier.


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

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Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Scordatura] #1922753
07/04/12 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Scordatura
We all tend to think the Golden Age of this or that as having occurred in the somewhat distant past, but in this area, to my mind music today has never been healthier.


How lovely to hear ^>^


Sometimes, we all just need to be shown a little kindness <3
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Scordatura] #1922849
07/05/12 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Scordatura

However, although free improvisation was an expected performance skill for Beethoven and virtuosos in general up until the mid-19th C, there's plentiful evidence from Beethoven that, as regards interpretation of his published works, he wished for scrupulous observance of his notation - for example, his fury at his leading violinist's (Schuppanzigh) suggestion to substitute a less difficult way of bowing for that specified by Beethoven in the score, and any number of letters to publishers urging exactness in matters of printing his markings. Historically Beethoven seems to have been the first composer to express the strength of his concern for such matters throughout his mature career. Schumann's correspondence with his own publishers indicates the same concern.



I don't think an interest in accurate publication is particularly germane to the topic.

And Beethoven was apparently well-known for throwing fits over just about anything. I wouldn't put too much weight on any particular one as being meaningful - any excuse would do.

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Among 19th C. performers, Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Alkan were notable for the strictness of their performance styles, both as regards observance of notation and metrical flow. Yehudi Menuhin maintained that successful conveying of Schubert's music (which is again exceptionally rich in notational markings) depends crucially upon maintaining a predominantly unwavering tempo. Anton Rubinstein insisted upon his pupils' meticulous adherence to every detail of a score until he was satisfied they had thoroughly mastered and musically assimilated the composer's own, actually indicated requirements, and only then grant them permission to explore freer interpretative possibilities of their own.



It's all relative, too. Since none of us actually heard any of these "strict" performers, it is difficult to assess what they actually did, and with what music. I do know that despite Alkan's present-day reputation as being "strict", he was "loose" enough do things like make some measures in the opening of Chopin's 3rd Ballade sound as if they were in 3/4 instead of 6/8. It was also reported that his playing was very colorful in tone and inflection, which doesn't seem so strict, either. Who knows what it was actually like, since reports of that sort are relative to a background that was probably much wilder than we can adequately imagine. Even in our own time, different people will describe the same performer in strikingly different terms, depends on their sensibilities.

And I don't think anyone here is arguing (not yet, anyway) that interpretive freedom should be based on anything other than a thorough knowledge of the score.

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So, it seems there existed different schools, each with its own views on interpretative freedom and its contribution to artful (and artless!) music-making. Personally I'd be wary of stating any generalizations on the desirability of interpretative freedom other than at the level of the individual composition - and if any such generalizations are to become stateable, they will necessarily emerge only by way of intimacy with, and one's personal perception of, a composition's peculiar characteristics and spirit. It's these things that hold the key to the difference in impact created by, say, one Beethoven sonata (or sonata movement) and another or one Chopin mazurka and another, and equally, by one great pianist's performance of a certain work and another's. That was exactly the point Anton Rubinstein was trying to instil in his students. He was thoroughly aware that composers as imaginative as Beethoven or Chopin were entirely capable of producing works that were individually unique in their expressive content, each requiring the musician to determine a uniquely appropriate interpretative style for expressing it. As regards cultivating musicians' ability to do that, few ideas could surely be more stifling than across-the-board generalizations about what composers of a particular age would typically have thought, expected, demanded and resorted to in performance!



On the other hand, ignoring what composers and performers of a particular era did and were probably expecting is willful ignorance, and to my mind, not useful. I don't understand how paying attention to that kind of thing would stifle anything, either, since a person is free to make of it all what they will.

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I really don't find today's attitudes towards interpretation stifling. Yes, Urtext editions are standard sources for all professional classical musicians nowadays, yet far from finding myself being subjected to nothing but "strict urtext realizations" (which, as I argued above, are humanly impossible although achievable by computer software, e.g. Sibelius), I'm struck and continually amazed by the staggering diversity that today's instrumentalists offer interpretatively, performances at once erudite, fascinating and, surprisingly often, convincing! We all tend to think the Golden Age of this or that as having occurred in the somewhat distant past, but in this area, to my mind music today has never been healthier.


::rolls eyes::

That sounds oddly like some kind of pianistic Chamber of Commerce brochure.

There are many pianists, of course, and a range of interpretive stances does exist, but strangely, in light of that, I still have attended far too many concerts where utter beige neutrality reigns. There's no point of view other than a generic urtexty one.



Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1922853
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There has always been composers who try to specify exactly what they want and those who are less precise. Francois Couperin was meticulous in specifying ornamentation (but the flexible French rhythms leave a lot of freedom for the performer) whereas most (?) composers of the time were less precise. Some of Haydn's sonatas have pages without any dynamic markings whatsoever, Mozart's marking are sometimes very precise but not always. Beethoven certainly tried to be precise. Schubert's dynamics have to be interpreted: on numerous occasions he indicates pp for instance and several bars later indicates pp again. The sense of the music tends to imply that these added pps are not reminders. In his Op90 Impromptus there is but one pedal indication: No 3 is marked at the beginning con pedale. Well, yes, but how much? Does the general lack of pedalling indications mean that we should sparsely pedal Schubert?

The value of Urtext editions is that we are faced with what the composer either specified, or what he (usually a he) could be troubled to indicate to performers. In the latter case there was presumably an assumption of a knowledge of performing practice at the time.

The text, preferably Urtext for the above reasons, is the starting point. Awareness of the historical performing/composing practice is important if we are intent on honouring the composer's original inspiration, but this still leaves much flexibility and freedom of expression. Only when we go so far beyond the text and the context of the original composition are we then creating something else, but there's a place for that too.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: bennevis] #1923101
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Chopin himself was a very different pianist to Liszt, but said he wished he could 'steal' Liszt's way with his Polonaises. (And one can imagine how Liszt might have played Chopin's Op.53....).


It's also ridiculous how much misinformation flies around the internet too (not blaming you, but the source of this quote)! The pieces in question were Chopin's etudes, not his polonaises.

I also don't think taking liberties is very helpful when dealing with 20th century music. For example, Ravel and Prokofiev's writing demands precision, and taking liberties with the score usually undermines the music itself. I would say that liberties are something that can be taken when playing music which is born from improvisation (Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, early Scriabin, etc). Works born purely of craft IMO fare less well.

Anyways, a good example of a musical liberty being taken would be Horowitz starting off the Scriabin D# minor etude piano, as opposed to forte. Listening to the recording in isolation, it's puzzling. However, if you recognize that the sombre etude in C# minor precedes the D# minor, and Horowitz transitions between the pieces without applause, then his choice of dynamics at the start is logical. This shows a kind of care when developing a recital programme which seems to be something of the past as well...it seems now that people are all about displaying insane "tour de force" styled recitals.



Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Kuanpiano] #1923274
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Ialso don't think taking liberties is very helpful when dealing with 20th century music. For example, Raveland Prokofiev's writing demands precision,and taking liberties with the score usually undermines the music itself. I would say that libertiesare something that can be taken when playing music which is born from improvisation (Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, early Scriabin, etc). Works born purelyof craft IMO fare less well.
If you've read my other posts here on a similar subject, you will note that I specifically excluded the likes of Ravel from any liberty-taking ('Performers ARE slaves' was his riposte to Paul Wittgenstein when the latter rewrote the D major Piano Concerto to suit his requirements). Most 20th century music are very specifically detailed as to speed, dynamics, nuances etc, leaving the performer little room to manoeuvre, except for aleatoric music by a few composers.

I attend many piano recitals -around ten a year,and often make a point of going to concerts by someone who's recently won a competition etc, whom I haven't heard before, as well as the few established names whose playing have real personality (those who haven't, I stop going.....). It's depressing to me how so many of them play almost by rote, as if they're still playing in front of the jury - no personality, no individuality, anodyne even. They all sound the same. Maybe that's the way they've been taught, not to rock the boat for fear of bad reviews. Or maybe they haven't lived a life away from piano music. Or maybe - they just don't have any individual ideas about music.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: bennevis] #1923279
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I attend many piano recitals -around ten a year,and often makea point of going to concerts by someone who's recently won a competition etc, whom I haven't heard before, as well as the few established names whose playing have real personality (those who haven't, I stop going.....).

It's depressing to me how so many of them play almost by rote, as if they're still playing in front of the jury - no personality, no individuality, anodyne even. They all sound the same. Maybe that's the way they've been taught, not to rock the boat for fear of bad reviews. Or maybe they haven't lived a life away from piano music. Or maybe - they just don't have any individual ideas about music.
I couldn't disagree more, and I will go to around 10 recitals just during the last two weeks in July at the Mannes IKIF. But if you feel that way, why do you bother going to recitals?

I would also strongly disagree that the finalists in major competitions play by rote and without personality.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/06/12 05:28 AM.
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: pianoloverus] #1923282
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bennevis
I attend many piano recitals -around ten a year,and often makea point of going to concerts by someone who's recently won a competition etc, whom I haven't heard before, as well as the few established names whose playing have real personality (those who haven't, I stop going.....). It's depressing to me how so many of them play almost by rote, asif they're still playing in front of the jury - no personality, no individuality, anodyne even. They all sound the same. Maybe that's the way they've been taught, not to rock the boat for fear of bad reviews. Or maybe they haven't lived a life away from piano music. Or maybe - they just don't have any individual ideas about music.
I couldn't disagree more, and I will go to around 10 recitals just during the last two weeks in July at the Mannes IKIF. Butif you feel that way, why do you bother going to recitals?


...in the hope (sometimes even expectation) of spotting a new talent, someone with something to say. (Sometimes because of the program they're playing). And it's happened on the odd occasion, when I will then add that particular pianist to my small list of 'not to be missed' musicians.

The acid test is, if you're listening with your eyes closed (so that their facial and body mannerisms don't influence your perception), can you hear any personality in the playing? Can you tell the difference between this pianist and another one? If not, why would you bother to go to listen to this pianist in concert again?


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: bennevis] #1923289
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bennevis
I attend many piano recitals -around ten a year,and often makea point of going to concerts by someone who's recently won a competition etc, whom I haven't heard before, as well as the few established names whose playing have real personality (those who haven't, I stop going.....). It's depressing to me how so many of them play almost by rote, asif they're still playing in front of the jury - no personality, no individuality, anodyne even. They all sound the same. Maybe that's the way they've been taught, not to rock the boat for fear of bad reviews. Or maybe they haven't lived a life away from piano music. Or maybe - they just don't have any individual ideas about music.
I couldn't disagree more, and I will go to around 10 recitals just during the last two weeks in July at the Mannes IKIF. Butif you feel that way, why do you bother going to recitals?


...in the hope (sometimes even expectation) of spotting a new talent, someone with something to say. (Sometimes because of the program they're playing). And it's happened on the odd occasion, when I will then add that particular pianist to my small list of 'not to be missed' musicians.
Seems like you are so negative about most pianists playing today that the small chance of enjoying a performance would hardly make it worthwhile.

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: pianoloverus] #1923296
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Seems like you are so negative about most pianists playing today that the small chance of enjoying a performance would hardly makeit worthwhile.


On the contrary, I'm an eternal optimist grin. In recent years, I've added Yuja Wang to my special list, plus a few others to my 'back-up' list. And I have high hopes for Daniil Trifonov, who I'll be seeing for the first time in concert in December.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: Okiikahuna] #1923304
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I have always regarded Piano World as the best place to ascertain a generalized idea of what the larger world of pianism was thinking. In view of that, this consensus of opinion is very surprising to me.

It seems like only three or four years ago, the consensus of opinion on Pianists Corner would have been the opposite of what I have read here. It would have been that too many pianists stray too far from the composer's intent. What I'm generally reading here is that the doctrine of composer's intent is too often hobbling the creativity of the performer.

I'm surprised, because I would have thought that such a significant change in attitude about performance practice would happen over a longer period of time, say several decades, or even a half century.

Has performance practice actually changed in the recent past, or are we just thinking that it should? Is this thread an indication of changed attitudes in the larger world of pianism?

Tomasino

Last edited by tomasino; 07/06/12 07:03 AM.

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Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: tomasino] #1923310
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Originally Posted by tomasino

Is this thread an indication of changed attitudes in the larger world of pianism?

Well...it's only a sample of a dozen or so individuals, so it'd be tough to draw any real conclusions. But even so, the rate of change increases with time at an accelerating pace (or so it would seem)...um, it's not reaching everyone (obviously), but I've certainly come across more of a desire to hear individuality of performances as time goes on.
Xxx


Sometimes, we all just need to be shown a little kindness <3
Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: tomasino] #1923319
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Originally Posted by tomasino
I have always regarded Piano World as the best place to ascertain a generalized idea of what the larger world of pianism was thinking. In view of that, this consensus of opinion is very surprising to me.
I don't think there has been consensus on this thread. But even if this was the case, I don't think it represents any generalized idea in the larger world of pianism.

I think PW has over 50,000 members but I'd guess that a very high percentage of posts are done by a small number of people, perhaps around 40. Anybody want to add up the total posts of the top 30 and divide it by the total number of posts from everyone?

Re: Interpretative Freedom [Re: tomasino] #1923507
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Originally Posted by tomasino
I have always regarded Piano World as the best place to ascertain a generalized idea of what the larger world of pianism was thinking. In view of that, this consensus of opinion is very surprising to me.

It seems like only three or four years ago, the consensus of opinion on Pianists Corner would have been the opposite of what I have read here. It would have been that too many pianists stray too far from the composer's intent. What I'm generally reading here is that the doctrine of composer's intent is too often hobbling the creativity of the performer.



What you are seeing is a Lang Lang effect. Only three or four years ago, there was a constant barrage of threads and posts about him and his style of playing (and his apparent effect on some competition pianists). Those have died down, and with them the protests to a certain theatricality in playing have also dwindled. That can give the impression that there's been a general shift of opinion, but I don't think such a shift has really happened, at least not that dramatically. On the other hand, a more subtle shift along those lines may be occurring (but that could just be wishful thinking on my part).

Also, I wouldn't take PW as being representative of anything other than itself.

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