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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: pianoloverus] #2145980
09/07/13 07:46 PM
09/07/13 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The problem with the quote you gave above is that stores left out a key part of my sentence in his comment.


Actually I think you've greatly mis-diagnosed the cause of the problem. It wasn't about you at all. I had you on ignore and back on you shall go (as the pattern of vacuous informationally null posts continues) after my quick comment: Reading your reply at length my mind immediately went to the idea you would have been better served by simply listening to your playing in the first place but I see, comedically, stores had already beaten you and I to the punchline stating:

Originally Posted by stores
Listening is, perhaps, THE greatest skill any musician can possess.

Last edited by wower; 09/07/13 08:15 PM. Reason: spelling!

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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2145985
09/07/13 08:02 PM
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A couple of things, from my experience:

Yes, we have most likely heard pieces we're working on a dozen times. HOWEVER. Once you actually start to work on something, you change the way you hear it. Or at least, I do. You develop ideas about the piece, you see/hear things you never noticed before. You come up with your own ways of playing something.

Why then would you listen to a recording? There is nothing wrong with it, of course, but NOT in the first stages. Fine to do so after you have solid ideas about it.

Im not talking about beginners or average pianists. I'm talking about people who are performing.

You can discover so many things yourself, why take shortcuts? It doesn't really do you any favors, at least for me.

And yes, listening is important. However I find that many pianists simply stick to piano music, ESPECIALLY to only things they are playing. That's kind of silly, considering the means we have today of discovering recordings. Go listen to a string quartet, an opera, a chamber work, a symphony. They will enrich you as well.



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: wower] #2145993
09/07/13 08:17 PM
09/07/13 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by wower
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The problem with the quote you gave above is that stores left out a key part of my sentence in his comment.
Actually I think you've greatly mis-diagnosed the cause of the problem. It wasn't about you at all.
Hard to figure out what you mean here.

You quoted stores whose partial quote of what I said disagreed with what I said but left out key parts. Then you said how correct his idea was even though it didn't represent what I said.

In addition, your that it would be better to listen to my own performance instead of Jarrett's seems wrong in two ways. You assumed incorrectly that I didn't listen to my own performance, and more importantly, one cannot listen for something that one is not aware of(the importance of really "beginning" each phrase). That's why I think the overwhelming majority of pianists(non professionals)can benefit greatly from listening to performances by great pianists of the pieces they are working on. Having learned the importance of "beginning" each phrase(at least in certain kinds of music) by listening to Jarrett I am now able to listen for this idea in my own playing.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/07/13 08:34 PM.
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: pianoloverus] #2145997
09/07/13 08:24 PM
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(I'm toggling you in and out of ignore to reply to this:) I quoted stores because the point was valid and a good one - and therefore worth repeating. You were not part of the equation.

Last edited by wower; 09/07/13 08:26 PM.

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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: bellamusica] #2146008
09/07/13 08:59 PM
09/07/13 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bellamusica

In my opinion, if you are musical enough to come up with your own unique interpretations of a piece, you can do that with or without listening to recordings. I seriously doubt that musicians such as Argerich, Pollini, or Zimmerman wall themselves off from listening to any music for fear it might sully the genius interpretations they hope to come up with.


I've heard and read quite a number of interviews with well-known pianists, and some, in fact, have said they absolutely do not listen to recordings of pieces they are working on or performing, for the exact reason that they don't want the outside influence. Others say the opposite - that they listen to as many recordings as possible as part of the preparation of a piece.

So I think it isn't useful to speculate about what any given pianist does, because there is too much variety in approach.

On the other hand, if you are Argerich and are learning the Shchedrin double concerto to give its premiere, as she did, you can't listen to other famous pianists' recordings; there are none.

But the OP isn't even of that class, so why get into talking about what the very top of the profession does? It is not as if the issues are the same at every level. Usually, I'm of the "don't listen to recordings" school, but it really depends on the person's goals. If they don't care if they are merely imitating a recording, and have no ambitions to develop their musical skill, then, well...whatever works.

Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: wr] #2146011
09/07/13 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Usually, I'm of the "don't listen to recordings" school, but it really depends on the person's goals. If they don't care if they are merely imitating a recording, and have no ambitions to develop their musical skill, then, well...whatever works.
Alternatively, someone else(including as you mentioned some of the best pianists) might say...

"If they don't think they can learn anything from listening to other pianists who are far better than they are(why take lessons or buy editions by famous pianists?) or if they don't think they can listen to another recording without merely "imitating" it or if they think that they can develop their musical skills in a vacuum... then don't listen to recordings."


Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/07/13 09:19 PM.
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: wr] #2146015
09/07/13 09:14 PM
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I once watched a masterclass on Rach 3 given by the late Jorge Bolet. (One of the students was Barry Douglas, then still to win the Tchaikovsky Competition.)

Bolet was shocked when another of the students admitted that he'd never listened to Rachmaninoff's own recording. He (Bolet) seemed to imply that listening to the composer's performance, and playing the way he played was more important than what was in the score; and as we know, Rachmaninoff often disregarded his own markings in his published scores.

And we can hear in quite a few present-day pianists the influence of Rach's own recordings. Not least Stephen Hough, who plays the opening chords of Rach 2 almost exactly the same way as Rachmaninoff himself did (with the bottom notes played like appoggiaturas), and not quite what he wrote.....


"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: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146038
09/07/13 10:02 PM
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It's good for a reference, and it is very interesting to listen to, but you are not Rachmaninov and shouldn't try to copy it. I heard one sad attempt to copy tempos and various other aspects of the composer's Rach 1st concerto - runs and such - and the girl crashed and burned. Because she did not posses the strong technique or physicality or mind etc etc that he did. It was horrible.

He rolled those chords, perhaps, to show that it's okay to do so - especially since they are so large!



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: bennevis] #2146048
09/07/13 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I once watched a masterclass on Rach 3 given by the late Jorge Bolet. (One of the students was Barry Douglas, then still to win the Tchaikovsky Competition.)

Bolet was shocked when another of the students admitted that he'd never listened to Rachmaninoff's own recording. He (Bolet) seemed to imply that listening to the composer's performance, and playing the way he played was more important than what was in the score; and as we know, Rachmaninoff often disregarded his own markings in his published scores.

And we can hear in quite a few present-day pianists the influence of Rach's own recordings. Not least Stephen Hough, who plays the opening chords of Rach 2 almost exactly the same way as Rachmaninoff himself did (with the bottom notes played like appoggiaturas), and not quite what he wrote.....


Yeah, well, try that with Chopin's and Mozart's own recordings of their concertos....


Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Pogorelich.] #2146057
09/07/13 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
It's good for a reference, and it is very interesting to listen to, but you are not Rachmaninov and shouldn't try to copy it. I heard one sad attempt to copy tempos and various other aspects of the composer's Rach 1st concerto - runs and such - and the girl crashed and burned. Because she did not posses the strong technique or physicality or mind etc etc that he did. It was horrible.

He rolled those chords, perhaps, to show that it's okay to do so - especially since they are so large!


Plus, there's no telling what Rachmaninoff would think of those recordings if he were around today. I don't remember that he said "Thou shalt always listen to these recordings I made and hold them as the definitive interpretations, unto eternity". IIRC, even when he was alive, there were some performances by some pianists he said he preferred to his own.

Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146061
09/07/13 10:48 PM
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Yes. Besides, like I always say. He was so insecure himself, that there's no way to know how much of his recordings are sincere interpretations and how many are a result of self doubt?

I don't know how to describe it.

But yes, he preferred Horowitz and Moiseiwitsch to his own.



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146064
09/07/13 10:57 PM
09/07/13 10:57 PM
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I think that listening to pieces is good for discourse, and challenging one's ideas. I listen to pieces after I've worked out some sort of interpretation or when I've studied the piece and have a general idea of what to do with it.

It's interesting how some pianists don't listen to anybody at all though...


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Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146070
09/07/13 11:13 PM
09/07/13 11:13 PM
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I don't know if anyone has mentioned listening to recordings is a good way of discovering new pieces one might want to learn and perform yet. I know for myself that certainly gets pieces on my radar. I also enjoy trawling through the member's recording forum and listening to community members. It's a good way to support each other I think. But I can honesty say I can't think of any instance I've learned something from studying a recording (as I conclude is being suggested by the OP).

I've really enjoyed developing the skill of listening to oneself and the musicality that lies therein. It's something I never thought I could do and is actually a really interesting topic to expand on but gets a bit subjective (is it best to listen to the tones? the music? etc.)

Last edited by wower; 09/07/13 11:15 PM. Reason: oops. posted too soon.

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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146115
09/08/13 01:16 AM
09/08/13 01:16 AM
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I find it strange that some of you feel that one method of learning is how everyone should do it. I also find it strange that some of you think you know better than the OP what's good for him/her. When one person actually gave an answer to the question some people jumped on him and said that was all wrong! What has ensued has been 5 pages of arguing whether listening to recordings is a good idea. Talk about hijacking a thread, how incredibly rude! What does it matter to any of us if the OP listens to a few recordings? Let him or her get their feet wet and back to enjoying playing piano. Do any of you honestly think this arguing is encouraging to the OP?

To the OP. let me apologize for my fellow PW forum members. It seems they're sometimes more interested in arguing their viewpoints than helping new members. Let me add one cautionary note, Glenn Gould is one way to play Bach. His performances make interesting arguments, they bring out things other performances may not, but they are ar from the only or best way to play Bach. Which gets us back to the point of the argument that's ensued for 5 pages. I believe it's hard to make a judgment about ones own playing without some knowledge of the tradition of interpretation of a piece. You can get that from a teacher, but you can also get it from a recording. You can also be led astray by a recording. If you're going to listen to recordings to help develop an interpretation listen to lots of them. That usually means going to YouTube. Buy the ones that thrill you if you want to have them in your permanent collection.

Contrary to what copyright law would have us believe there are many copyrighted performances on YouTube that are currently available CDs. Sometimes it seems YouTube only goes after student performers claiming they're copyrighted performances, but that's a discussion for another time.

Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146133
09/08/13 02:13 AM
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Stores's argument is a noble one but I think it has a crucial flaw. It assumes that by listening to a specific recording, those artistic choices will subconsciously come through in your own playing. I don't think that's 100% the case. I think it all boils down to whether or not you can think for yourself.

The first couple of years I played piano, I tried to emulate my favorite recordings. I used to dismiss my own ideas as poor just because they weren't in my favorite pianists' recordings. I eventually grew out of that and started thinking for myself, even contradicting interpretations of my influences. Now, I'm proud of my ideas if I feel they're good ones.

It has nothing to do with "doing my homework" prior to listening; it has to do with getting out of the way of my musical ideas, letting them be free and expanding on them. When I tackle a new piece, I don't give a damn what my favorite pianists have done with it because I want jump in it and see what happens for myself!

Last edited by JoelW; 09/08/13 02:18 AM.
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Steve Chandler] #2146135
09/08/13 02:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
I find it strange that some of you feel that one method of learning is how everyone should do it. I also find it strange that some of you think you know better than the OP what's good for him/her. When one person actually gave an answer to the question some people jumped on him and said that was all wrong! What has ensued has been 5 pages of arguing whether listening to recordings is a good idea. Talk about hijacking a thread, how incredibly rude! What does it matter to any of us if the OP listens to a few recordings? Let him or her get their feet wet and back to enjoying playing piano. Do any of you honestly think this arguing is encouraging to the OP?


I don't necessarily cut this discussion narrowly down to only "how people learn" but also include parallels like what the ultimate skills and goals of musicianship might look like and what things might undermine that progression. Further to the point, if one wanted to improve long distance running and a poster was suggesting scrapbooking, one could reasonably say that suggestion is getting further away from a helpful improvement technique. So there is a point of reference at the extremes.

As for thread hijacking, it's the public internet.

The OP is more than welcome to chime in anytime to redirect.

Last edited by wower; 09/08/13 02:32 AM. Reason: brevity

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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146138
09/08/13 02:31 AM
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Actually it occurs to me there is a system of democratic forum policing: http://stackexchange.com/ It's not perfect but I've often thought about starting a piano one. I've been bouncing around Mathematics and Math Overflow for years. But those are much more objective topics. I think it's great.


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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146143
09/08/13 02:40 AM
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I'd like to make another point.

There's nothing wrong with being subconsciously influenced by other pianists, or even choosing to adopt one of their choices. We all stand on the shoulders of the ones before us. It's a universal truth. By stores's reasoning, Einstein should have just "done his homework" and figured out what Newton had already discovered.

Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Steve Chandler] #2146195
09/08/13 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler

To the OP. let me apologize for my fellow PW forum members.


Please don't - we can speak for ourselves, and apologize if we think it necessary. In this case, I don't think it is. The OP may not have got what was asked for, but did get a taste of how contentious this issue can be, which, in fact, may be useful and thought provoking.

At any rate, if we all gave what we thought were good suggestions of recordings, you know quite well that the chances are pretty good that arguments would ensue about the recommendations. And, too, there would probably be so many recommendations that it would still not be particularly helpful to the OP.

What I would suggest, as a practical solution, is going to ArkivMusic and pulling up the recordings for each piece that is of interest. Then, click on "Recommended" to narrow it down. Then start reading the info for each recording and see what sounds appealing (and narrow it down further by watching the form of the recording - you don't need a huge box set for just one piece).




Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Steve Chandler] #2146204
09/08/13 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
If you're going to listen to recordings to help develop an interpretation listen to lots of them.


Of course, one isn't really developing their own interpretation then.



"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

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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: JoelW] #2146210
09/08/13 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Stores's argument is a noble one but I think it has a crucial flaw. It assumes that by listening to a specific recording, those artistic choices will subconsciously come through in your own playing. I don't think that's 100% the case. I think it all boils down to whether or not you can think for yourself.

The first couple of years I played piano, I tried to emulate my favorite recordings. I used to dismiss my own ideas as poor just because they weren't in my favorite pianists' recordings. I eventually grew out of that and started thinking for myself, even contradicting interpretations of my influences. Now, I'm proud of my ideas if I feel they're good ones.

It has nothing to do with "doing my homework" prior to listening; it has to do with getting out of the way of my musical ideas, letting them be free and expanding on them. When I tackle a new piece, I don't give a damn what my favorite pianists have done with it because I want jump in it and see what happens for myself!


Of course, it boils down to thinking for yourself... that is the whole point.

It doesn't matter, whether, or not, that's 100% the case. That doesn't mean the argument is crucially flawed. Of course, listening to recordings isn't going to affect every single person the same way, but why then listen at all? What's the point? People listen to recordings of whatever it is they're working on, because, nine times out of ten, they don't know what they're doing in various spots.



"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."

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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: JoelW] #2146213
09/08/13 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I'd like to make another point.

There's nothing wrong with being subconsciously influenced by other pianists, or even choosing to adopt one of their choices. We all stand on the shoulders of the ones before us. It's a universal truth. By stores's reasoning, Einstein should have just "done his homework" and figured out what Newton had already discovered.


Then you can't call it your own interpretation. If you adopt their choices, those choices are still theirs and not yours.
If you feel there is nothing wrong with being influenced by others and adopting their choices then you don't need to do anything else do you? You're all set, because you've got everything you need. Don't bother with a teacher. Don't bother learning anything more. We're too smart for our own good sometimes aren't we?



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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: trisha2766] #2146216
09/08/13 08:16 AM
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As I've said many times in the past, if listening to recordings of things actually influenced people's interpretations, then a lot more people would sound like Argerich and Horowitz.

Or I'll put it this way - I bet if we all went to the Members' Recording forum and tried to guess who's listened to recordings in forming their interpretations and who hasn't, we wouldn't do a very good job.

Sure, every now and then I can hear that someone's trying to emulate a particular recorded performance, but not that often.

I think the choice of teacher is far more influential. Most students I know do inherit something of their teachers' style. Would we then suggest that no one study with a teacher in an effort to be truly original?

This whole argument (which I've heard a thousand times here and elsewhere) is absurd. Listen if you want. Or don't.


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Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: stores] #2146218
09/08/13 08:31 AM
09/08/13 08:31 AM
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Urbandale, Iowa
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Steve Chandler Offline
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Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
If you're going to listen to recordings to help develop an interpretation listen to lots of them.


Of course, one isn't really developing their own interpretation then.
Why is that important for a pianist who has only recently returned to playing the instrument?

Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Kreisler] #2146230
09/08/13 09:14 AM
09/08/13 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
I think the choice of teacher is far more influential. Most students I know do inherit something of their teachers' style. Would we then suggest that no one study with a teacher in an effort to be truly original?
Agree 100%.

Learning something from a great recording is, I think, little different from learning something from a teacher or learning something from a score edited by a great pianist or from an article about a piece by a great pianist. Yet few of those recommending against listening to a recording would recommend against having a teacher.

Many piano studios or master classes have two pianos for the specific reason of allowing the teacher to demonstrate something on the second piano without having the student get up from the first piano each time.


Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/08/13 09:50 AM.
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Steve Chandler] #2146242
09/08/13 09:44 AM
09/08/13 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
If you're going to listen to recordings to help develop an interpretation listen to lots of them.


Of course, one isn't really developing their own interpretation then.
Why is that important for a pianist who has only recently returned to playing the instrument?
Agree completely(assuming you mean that it isn't important).

I think listening to a recordings or multiple recordings doesn't preclude developing one's own interpretation and more than taking a lesson doesn't preclude it. If it did then all the excellent professional pianists who are in favor of listening to other pianists(not saying they all think this way) would not be excellent professional pianists.

For the 99.9% of pianists who are not conservatory or professional level, I think developing their own very original interpretation is of minor consequence compared to a long list of more basic things. This may be important for pianists at the highest professional level, but even there I think many of those pianists are influenced by their teachers and by recordings/concerts of other pianists.

Listening to a recording doesn't necessarily mean the pianist won't have something to say(part of the pianist's own thoughts and feelings will appear in their performance) or that one must mindlessly imitate a recording by a great pianist.

In summary:
Recordings by great pianists are a terrific source of ideas and understanding.

For a small percent of pianists with vast understanding working in a vacuum may be a good or reasonable idea. For the rest, I think part of doing the homework should be listening to recordings by great pianists at one point in the learning process.


Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/08/13 09:46 AM.
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Kreisler] #2146248
09/08/13 10:05 AM
09/08/13 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by stores
People listen to recordings of whatever it is they're working on, because, nine times out of ten, they don't know what they're doing in various spots.


I've observed this in my own playing as well. And because I'm not in the habit of listening to recordings, I bring the trouble spot to my teacher for a formal and intuitive understanding.

Originally Posted by Kreisler
This whole argument (which I've heard a thousand times here and elsewhere) is absurd. Listen if you want. Or don't.


Phew. I'm glad Kreisler said this first. I didn't want to seem cold saying I really don't care at all - like at all - if the OP listens to recordings or not. I've always assumed the OP is the same way; if my suggestion is off base and not applicable to the OP's situation it will be ignored. I guess Steve is right these same unknowns about the OP can lead to different assumptions. We can assume the OP is a sensitive flower, just on the internet for the first time, and we are all here today strictly for their edification. Digressions will not be tolerated, even if many forum members find value in them.


Bad spellers of the world untie!
Re: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Kreisler] #2146264
09/08/13 10:57 AM
09/08/13 10:57 AM
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Here, as opposed to there
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
As I've said many times in the past, if listening to recordings of things actually influenced people's interpretations, then a lot more people would sound like Argerich and Horowitz.



No they wouldn't and you know they wouldn't and you know why. Don't spew out some crap like that and expect it to get taken seriously.



"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: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: wower] #2146269
09/08/13 11:06 AM
09/08/13 11:06 AM
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Is there any reputable teacher today who would tell his/her pupils never to listen to recordings or live performances of anything they were learning?

And is there any serious pianist today who hasn't heard at least one performance of a piece he's working on - other than something very contemporary, or something very obscure? (If he really hasn't heard, say, a Bach P&F he's working on, one would seriously have to question how serious a pianist he is).

All my teachers encouraged me to listen to as many performances of the music I was learning as possible (and this was long before the age of YouTube), as well as find my own voice. And almost all the music I chose to learn for myself (without the help of any teacher) was because I first heard it played by someone else on the radio, or because it was in a volume of music I'd already bought on that basis.
And I suspect that the vast majority of pianists today take up works after hearing recordings of them, and liking what they hear (unless they're very young, and completely reliant on their teachers to spoon-feed them....).

And how right Kreisler is - who is the pianist whose playing most closely resembled Horowitz's? None other than Byron Janis, Horowitz's favorite pupil.....


"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: looking for good recordings of pieces I'm working on [Re: Kreisler] #2146271
09/08/13 11:08 AM
09/08/13 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
As I've said many times in the past, if listening to recordings of things actually influenced people's interpretations, then a lot more people would sound like Argerich and Horowitz.

Or I'll put it this way - I bet if we all went to the Members' Recording forum and tried to guess who's listened to recordings in forming their interpretations and who hasn't, we wouldn't do a very good job.

Sure, every now and then I can hear that someone's trying to emulate a particular recorded performance, but not that often.

I think the choice of teacher is far more influential. Most students I know do inherit something of their teachers' style. Would we then suggest that no one study with a teacher in an effort to be truly original?

This whole argument (which I've heard a thousand times here and elsewhere) is absurd. Listen if you want. Or don't.


It is silly, but I disagree that we would have more Horowitz's. I think we would have them if the proposed imitator had the ability, but they don't.

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