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Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. #2184217
11/17/13 11:38 PM
11/17/13 11:38 PM
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vlhorowitz Offline OP
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Hi Everyone,

Hope you're all doing well. Here is our latest interview with the Curtis Institute's Gary Graffman. Mr. Graffman was kind enough to speak about his brief encounters with Rachmaninoff, Hofmann, and Tatum, attending Glenn Gould's Town Hall debut, Horowitz' Medtner repertoire, and of course, the criticism directed towards Lang Lang.

As always, many thanks for reading smile

http://www.examiner.com/article/interview-with-pianist-gary-graffman

Last edited by vlhorowitz; 11/18/13 02:00 AM.
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Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184253
11/18/13 12:53 AM
11/18/13 12:53 AM
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Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184255
11/18/13 12:58 AM
11/18/13 12:58 AM
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I'm quite jealous that he got to listen to Horowitz's Medtner. What a sublime treat that would be.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: albumblatter] #2184282
11/18/13 02:02 AM
11/18/13 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by albumblatter
I'm quite jealous that he got to listen to Horowitz's Medtner. What a sublime treat that would be.

This, so much! Plus his prok 6 and 8. If only a bootleg existed somewhere...

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Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184352
11/18/13 08:19 AM
11/18/13 08:19 AM
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Damon Offline
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Thanks for the interview, that box set of Graffman must be mine!

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: jazzyprof] #2184360
11/18/13 08:41 AM
11/18/13 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


Which is utter nonsense.

Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.

On the other hand, Graffman might have some motivation for trying to deflect bad reviews of his "product".





Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: wr] #2184419
11/18/13 10:52 AM
11/18/13 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


Which is utter nonsense.

Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.

On the other hand, Graffman might have some motivation for trying to deflect bad reviews of his "product".






Bravo!

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: wr] #2184435
11/18/13 11:34 AM
11/18/13 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


Which is utter nonsense.

Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.

On the other hand, Graffman might have some motivation for trying to deflect bad reviews of his "product".


Agreed. That's a pretty typical defensive response. The fact is, the critiques about Lang Lang are spot on. He's overly showy, his playing is imprecise, and his theatrics distract from the music rather than enhance it.

None of this, of course, is a knock on Gary Graffman. This is the type of performer Lang Lang is, and it has worked quite well for his career. I only hope that as he matures he'll start playing more musically.

Steve


Cello, Piano, Electric Bass

1967 Baldwin SD-10 | Kawai MP11
Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: Steve Peterson] #2184442
11/18/13 11:40 AM
11/18/13 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Peterson
his playing is imprecise

Steve

Really??

Sir Simon Rattle had something to say on this aspect, in his latest recording.


"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: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: wr] #2184456
11/18/13 11:55 AM
11/18/13 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6YfJZ9hxLQ

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: Steve Peterson] #2184472
11/18/13 12:37 PM
11/18/13 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Peterson
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


Which is utter nonsense.

Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.

On the other hand, Graffman might have some motivation for trying to deflect bad reviews of his "product".


Agreed. That's a pretty typical defensive response. The fact is, the critiques about Lang Lang are spot on. He's overly showy, his playing is imprecise, and his theatrics distract from the music rather than enhance it.

None of this, of course, is a knock on Gary Graffman. This is the type of performer Lang Lang is, and it has worked quite well for his career. I only hope that as he matures he'll start playing more musically.

Steve


Perhaps, but you can take those criticisms with you to the poorhouse.

A lot of critics are not aware of what the goal of a performer is: To sell tickets. They may not even be aware of what their job is: To sell advertising to readers. They may be, in the sense that negative reviews probably get read more than positive reviews, but if they are selling to people who are not aware of the public's tastes, the quality of the readers they are providing to advertisers is not so great.


Semipro Tech
Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184479
11/18/13 12:54 PM
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If you want proof that the deck is stacked in the U.S., when it comes to piano fame a fortune, all you have to note is that two of the most famous pianists of American birth, Fleisher and Graffman cannot play normally with two hands. Graffman can't play at all with two hands.

And yet, they and their students are put up on pedestals for all to admire and emulate.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184493
11/18/13 01:30 PM
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I typically don't prefer Lang Lang's interpretations (La Campanella? No thanks, I'll stick to Yundi Li's), but I also don't think the hyper-criticism he receives is justified. People seem to like to jump on the bandwagon of hating Lang Lang after hearing just a single interpretation of his, but what of the rest? His Liszt Romance in E minor and Chopin etude op 10 no 3 are absolutely great!


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184542
11/18/13 02:42 PM
11/18/13 02:42 PM
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Wonderful interview -- thanks for posting the link!


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Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: wr] #2184571
11/18/13 03:10 PM
11/18/13 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


Which is utter nonsense.

Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.



I think there are people of certain personality types that would write a bad review from the point of view that they are jealous FOR their favorites who aren't getting the gigs. I've read posts here where the basher mentioned other, more deserving artists. Do you think reviewers are all above that?

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: Damon] #2184627
11/18/13 04:35 PM
11/18/13 04:35 PM
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Yes, people can have a difference of opinion. People forget that at the time, when he was simply a very talented kid who may have had a chance at a career, that he had no box-office! Nobody had heard of him, and nobody would have known to attend any his concerts. And yet, every conductor that he played for - from the most flamboyant to the strictest, and everybody else in between – said, ‘My God, this is one of the biggest talents we’ve heard in years!’.

The way it’s been done for years, when conductors hear a young talent they like, they’ll say, ‘I would like to hear them again in a year’ or ‘I’ll put them in a youth-concert’. But that wasn’t the case with Lang Lang. Every one of these people changed their major programs for the following season to get him in. I had never seen a thing like that in my life! Everybody naturally criticized him for this and for that, but in the end, these people could see through it all; they saw what was really there.


Very good point, Mr Graffman.

That was a very enjoyable interview. Many thanks to the OP for posting a link to it here.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184637
11/18/13 04:54 PM
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Lots of people dislike highly popular musicians. It's nothing new. It's not necessarily unjustified either. I think once someone or something reaches a certain point of popularity, the popularity on itself drives further popularity, there are all kinds of books and songs and movies that are acclaimed basically because they are well known. I think it is personally reasonable to criticize this, to be aware of when we like something because it resonates with us or if we are just brainwashing ourselves into liking it because it is already so well liked.

Whatsoever is hugely successful is usually doomed to also be hugely criticized. If there are any counter examples of this please share.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: stalefleas] #2184694
11/18/13 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by stalefleas

Whatsoever is hugely successful is usually doomed to also be hugely criticized. If there are any counter examples of this please share.


burl ives?


"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
- Gertrude Stein
Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184741
11/18/13 07:23 PM
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The long word version of the often used music industry word "hype" is the word hyperbole.

Why, of all the piano teachers in the U.S. did Lang Lang select Gary Graffman? My guess is it may have had to do with two things.

The first is the old concept of being a big fish in a small pond. At Juilliard, he would not have had that. Further, Graffman had a reputation in mainland China.

Second, unlike Juilliard, where you cannot just "study" under someone, you have to take a formal path of matriculation. Lang Lang, I may be wrong, does not have a degree from Curtis.

As far as Graffman stipulating that he (Lang Lang) was a nobody, when he arrived, who subsequently made it on his own through performance brilliance, I only list the two letters BS in response!

Did Gary Graffman make one or two phone calls to anybody and everybody he could, in regards his Chinese students? My guess is yes he did.

Finally, it is no accident that, after all of the negative posts that have been made lately regarding Lang Lang on PW, this post just happens to appear. I have some swamp land in Florida I can sell you, if you believe that one.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: stalefleas] #2184748
11/18/13 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by stalefleas
Whatsoever is hugely successful is usually doomed to also be hugely criticized. If there are any counter examples of this please share.
Most of the great pianists were not hugely criticized IMO, except in the sense that since they played a lot of concerts the number of negative reviews they received in some cases might be high. But the percentages of negative reviews was not so high. If two pianists each get 5 negative reviews but one pianist plays 10 recitals a year and the plays 100, I'd say the second was much more successful with the critics.

Most of the greatest pianists were popular with the critics and the public.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184749
11/18/13 07:32 PM
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Regardless, don't play for the haters. Play for those who like you, and for yourself. Who cares what the haters think.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: Damon] #2184752
11/18/13 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Gary Graffman: "Lang Lang has received horrible reviews, and in many different cities. I think part of it comes from a bit of jealousy. When people see that he has 150 concerts every year, at a fee that only some opera divas used to get (or now get), they begin to ask questions, ‘why does he deserve it and not others ?’, ‘why is life so unfair ?’." smile


Which is utter nonsense.

Jealousy as the motivation for bad reviews makes no sense at all, since the reviewers aren't pianists in competition with LL. There is nothing for them to be jealous about.



I think there are people of certain personality types that would write a bad review from the point of view that they are jealous FOR their favorites who aren't getting the gigs. I've read posts here where the basher mentioned other, more deserving artists. Do you think reviewers are all above that?


Since the bad or mixed reviews I've read of LL's playing are in line with what I've seen of it, I don't see any reason to make up extraneous motivations for them. The reviews and the reality are in synch, IMO.


Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: pianoloverus] #2184754
11/18/13 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by stalefleas
Whatsoever is hugely successful is usually doomed to also be hugely criticized. If there are any counter examples of this please share.
Most of the great pianists were not hugely criticized IMO, except in the sense that since they played a lot of concerts the number of negative reviews they received in some cases might be high. But the percentages of negative reviews was not so high. If two pianists each get 5 negative reviews but one pianist plays 10 recitals a year and the plays 100, I'd say the second was much more successful with the critics.

Most of the greatest pianists were popular with the critics and the public.


Perhaps but I think it is harder to tell with historical figures. How they were perceived by the public, how often they were considered overrated, may not be known too well without some historical analysis and even then much is up in the air.

Like Bach for instance. His work was considered old fashioned in his day (from what I was told by my music history teacher) and even during the classical period he was not widely appreciated. However, beethoven was apparently a fan.

I don't know a great deal of music history but I wonder--were there a lot of people (musicians, namely) dissing the Beatles for writing overly simple, superficial songs? I'm not trying to say the Beatles were either good or bad but they have become canonized at this point. sometimes I can't help but draw parallels between beatlemania and Bieber fever.

Sort of a tangent here maybe better suited for a separate thread.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2184755
11/18/13 07:47 PM
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I know you're not going so far as bach probably more along the lines of richter but is thought the larger point was still worth mentioning

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: stalefleas] #2184758
11/18/13 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by stalefleas
I know you're not going so far as bach probably more along the lines of richter but is thought the larger point was still worth mentioning
I think Richter got mostly very good reviews. But he did play a huge number of concerts so the number of his negative or partially negative reviews could be the same as someone who played far fewer concerts.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: DazedAndConfused] #2184781
11/18/13 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Quote
Yes, people can have a difference of opinion. People forget that at the time, when he was simply a very talented kid who may have had a chance at a career, that he had no box-office! Nobody had heard of him, and nobody would have known to attend any his concerts. And yet, every conductor that he played for - from the most flamboyant to the strictest, and everybody else in between – said, ‘My God, this is one of the biggest talents we’ve heard in years!’.

The way it’s been done for years, when conductors hear a young talent they like, they’ll say, ‘I would like to hear them again in a year’ or ‘I’ll put them in a youth-concert’. But that wasn’t the case with Lang Lang. Every one of these people changed their major programs for the following season to get him in. I had never seen a thing like that in my life! Everybody naturally criticized him for this and for that, but in the end, these people could see through it all; they saw what was really there.


Very good point, Mr Graffman.

That was a very enjoyable interview. Many thanks to the OP for posting a link to it here.


It would have been good had Graffman named those conductors.

The way I remember it is that DGG signed up LL to their label and launched a big marketing campaign around him. And around that time, some conductors, most of whom just happened to be signed to that very same label, added him to their roster of soloists.

Then, once his fame was established and it was clear he was a major box-office draw, other conductors took him on (or maybe it was mostly the doing of orchestra management). And he left DGG. Interestingly, it seems he often was used as the media-friendly "star" for various gala or benefit concerts, rather than part of the regular subscription series.


Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2185323
11/19/13 07:19 PM
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Does anyone want me to contact the senior classical music critic in the U.S. to see if he would be willing to weigh on this subject? I can, if you so desire.

And, don't even think of asking me this person's name or worse writing posts as to who it might be. This is a person of scholarship and distinction, who can significantly add something to the mix.

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2185346
11/19/13 08:11 PM
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My apologies: the text should have read "weigh in."

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2187769
11/24/13 03:58 PM
11/24/13 03:58 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 299
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vlhorowitz Offline OP
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vlhorowitz  Offline OP
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Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 299
Thank you all for reading and commenting smile

Re: Interview with Gary Graffman: on Lang Lang criticism, etc. [Re: vlhorowitz] #2187808
11/24/13 05:27 PM
11/24/13 05:27 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,025
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wouter79 Offline
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wouter79  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,025
Thanks, I always like these interviews smile


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