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#2036924 - 02/21/13 11:52 AM Re: Brahms and Debussy, Arpeggiated & Asychronized [Re: Louis Podesta]
Louis Podesta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 863

Thank you for your comment. More importantly, what can be gained by going to You Tube and listening to pianists like Horszowski, Friedberg, and Adelina de Lara is that you can hear for yourself exactly how they applied these techniques specific to a particular composer. They all lived very long lives, and they were considered the top teachers in the world.

Horszowski is especially helpful because he lived to be 100, and he was teaching up until a week before his death in 1993. He recorded everything from Bach to the modern 20th century composers.

As an example, when you listen to his Hammerklavier recording, it is a hard almost crunch-like roll, very similar to the way Ravel played in his "Valse Nobles Et Sentimentales" piano roll recording.

Yet, when Horszowski plays the Chopin B Minor Sonata, it is totally different. And, when you listen to his Debussy, he rolls practically everything because that is they way he heard it played when he was a teenager living in Europe, when Debussy was still alive.

Then, when you listen to Friedberg and de Lara play Brahms and Schumann, it is still a different approach, specific to those composer's music, under whom they both studied.

Finally, I enclose for your absolute listening pleasure Horszowski's live performance of the Chopin Sonata. Pay close attention to the "Largo" where improvises a repeat. It is just breathtaking. And remember, his mother was a student of Karol Mikuli (Chopin).


#2036980 - 02/21/13 01:44 PM Re: Brahms and Debussy, Arpeggiated & Asychronized [Re: Ian_G]
fnork Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 2070
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: Ian_G
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: Ian_G
Here's the deal: the extent to which performance practice is well and truly important to the composer is written into the score.

Well, that is interesting. For what reason then did Leopold Mozart, CPE Bach, Czerny, Daniel Gottlob Turk and countless others write treatises on how we are supposed to interpret what is written into the score? Did Wolfgang's daddy, Johann's son, Beethoven's pupil and numerous others have nothing of interest to say on this topic? Do people who knew Brahms, the Schumann's, Saint-Saens, Chopin, Liszt etc etc - do the recordings of these people have nothing to say of interest regarding performing manners of the past, and possibly performance manners of said composers?

I'll take them in order:

1. Those people realized they weren't their son, father or teachers, and settled down on the cheaper real estate.

2. Nothing absolute.

3. Sure, but nothing from which one can or should extrapolate a rule or set of rules.

To each their own, indeed. What you basically have to assume, then, is that what Leopold Mozart wrote on music, music-making, violin playing, understanding notation, bears no relation to how he taught and instructed one of the supreme geniouses of classical music. You would have to assume that the "set of rules" that CPE Bach extrapolated from music experiences throughout his life and that he wrote about in his klavierschule had nothing whatsoever with what he got from his father. And by your final remark, I guess we should assume that if out of 118 pianists born between 1824 and 1880 all but one to some degree "broke their hands" then it's still not enough to make any conclusion regarding performance practices of this long bygone era?

To each their own, then. In all fairness, I'm not particularly interested in "extrapolating a set of rules" anyway, merely point at the possibility that we might have lost a part of our musical vocabulary that was so natural for pianists of the past. This young man, IMO the most interesting pianist of his generation, has a few things of interest to say on this matter:


#2037004 - 02/21/13 02:36 PM Re: Brahms and Debussy, Arpeggiated & Asychronized [Re: Louis Podesta]
Ian_G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/10
Posts: 168
Loc: Germany
In my opinion, whatever the old man taught his great son about music was eclipsed so many times over by his supreme genius, as you put it, that it is relegated to the extreme margin of what's relevant, and I can't understand this preoccupation with something so innocuous.

I don't think CPE really understood his father, or cared to. Outside of that, I can't think of a less suitable composer on which to inflict this historical re-consideration, at least in terms of the keyboard music.

I always listen to 19th-born pianists with interest and wide-open ears. I simply hold that musical vocabulary is and must remain innate and the more spontaneous the better. If one were to ask Cortot why he rolled this or that chord, I imagine he'd look at you absolutely dumbfounded. Same with asking Rosenthal about that aynchronization in this or that Mazurka.

If there's a point to be made here, I suppose it's how the modern day recording industry can stifle the imagination of many pianists and cause them to resemble each other, and thus express a limited or self-same expressive vocabulary. I maintain, though, that the expressive devices used by golden era pianists can be traced back to the score. I would be better disposed to this whole business if it posited something more useful, like for example the idea that pianists of the bygone era read a score differently then we do today, that they read it less vertically and more horizontally, and not some idle remarks about how so-and-so who studied with so-and-so rolled this or that chord at bar 149.

#2037010 - 02/21/13 02:46 PM Re: Brahms and Debussy, Arpeggiated & Asychronized [Re: Louis Podesta]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 22077
Loc: New York City
I wonder if Grosvenor uses asynchronization, rolled chords, or extreme rubato in his playing? I never noticed this but I've never listened for it.

#2037024 - 02/21/13 03:20 PM Re: Brahms and Debussy, Arpeggiated & Asychronized [Re: Ian_G]
Louis Podesta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 863

Thank you for nailing it down even more. First, everyone who studied piano, until the advent of the formal music schools, had not one but two teachers. That is why when you read the bios of all the great pianists of the 19th century, they list their piano teachers, and they also list the person under whom they studied theory and composition.

It was expected that if you performed, then you would also be playing your own stuff. Anton Rubinstein, Busoni, Friedberg, Earl Wild, and even Horszowski wrote and played their own music.

When you are trained that way you visualize and hear a piece completely differently from the pianists of today. Carl Friedberg could sit in a chair, look at piece of music and then go to the piano and play it from memory.

When Prokofiev premiered his 3rd Concerto in New York, he visited Friedberg's class at Juilliard two days later, where it was performed on two pianos. Prokofiev complimented Friedberg's playing of the second piano part from memory, and asked him how long it took him to learn it. Friedberg replied that was simply the way he had heard it played with orchestra two days earlier.

So, absolutely yes, the way 19th century pianists played can be traced directly back to the score because by the time they performed a piece they knew everything structurally there was to know about it. Accordingly, as I have said before, they could hear in their minds ear what the composer was trying to say.

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