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Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: fnork] #2283777
05/31/14 02:35 PM
05/31/14 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by fnork

...and since this is the Rubinstein competition...it makes me wonder why nobody seems to take a cue from his way of programming things. There are a few things you can note from studying some recitals that have been released. First, there is usually about 1-2 'large-scale' works within a recital, juxtaposed with a fair amount of miniatures. Second, the miniatures - whether they are chopin mazurkas or schumann pieces, or whatever else - are not necessarily played as a whole set, but are often just handpicked from various opuses. Not that I don't like playing whole opuses, I actually do think it makes more sense often, but why wasn't anybody trying out such an approach? Why did so many candidates offer large-scale pieces ONLY in their programs (or with very few exceptions), and why did so few dare to offer anything but 'complete' works?

Playing miniatures in a Master piano competition can seem somewhat like filling up the allotted time with inconsequentials - when every minute counts. One competitor who played Szymanowski mazurkas attracted criticism from someone here. As for playing movements from bigger works - a concert pianist wouldn't do that in concert, so, in a competition when you have 45 minutes to fill, why would a serious competitor do that? (If you have only 15-20 minutes, fair enough).

Personally, if I see a recital program where miniatures like Chopin mazurkas or Beethoven Bagatelles, or encore pieces like Falla's Ritual Fire Dance (a favourite of Rubinstein) were interspersed between bigger works throughout, I'd think twice about attending. I wouldn't mind so much if there was a group of them - say, Chopin mazurkas, waltzes, an impromptu maybe - sandwiched between two bigger works in one half of a full recital.

The only exception to this, IMO, is in all-Chopin recitals (which is what you get in the Chopin competition, of course), where, because Chopin's best music isn't large-scale, programming of groups of unrelated miniatures is usual.


"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."
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Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: bennevis] #2283787
05/31/14 04:04 PM
05/31/14 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Playing miniatures in a Master piano competition can seem somewhat like filling up the allotted time with inconsequentials - when every minute counts. One competitor who played Szymanowski mazurkas attracted criticism from someone here. As for playing movements from bigger works - a concert pianist wouldn't do that in concert, so, in a competition when you have 45 minutes to fill, why would a serious competitor do that? (If you have only 15-20 minutes, fair enough).

Personally, if I see a recital program where miniatures like Chopin mazurkas or Beethoven Bagatelles, or encore pieces like Falla's Ritual Fire Dance (a favourite of Rubinstein) were interspersed between bigger works throughout, I'd think twice about attending. I wouldn't mind so much if there was a group of them - say, Chopin mazurkas, waltzes, an impromptu maybe - sandwiched between two bigger works in one half of a full recital.

The only exception to this, IMO, is in all-Chopin recitals (which is what you get in the Chopin competition, of course), where, because Chopin's best music isn't large-scale, programming of groups of unrelated miniatures is usual.

I didn't make most of the points you seem to think I made. I wasn't suggesting selecting 'movements of bigger works' (as in selected bits of Beethoven sonatas etc) as a good strategy, but works on the smaller scale, character pieces and whatnot. I frankly don't understand why playing 'miniatures' would be seen as a problem, as it balances things out if there already is a 'main dish' on the program. Offering a small amount of very large-scale pieces is not only problematic as a concept, but in addition, I'd say that it is important to show your abilities BOTH in large structures and in smaller ones. Smaller works are neglected in competitions like this one, which is strange to me - capturing the audience in a short 3-minute piece is a different kind of challenge than doing it over half an hour. I'm perhaps leaning towards this opinion for one more reason - just performed the complete Szymanowski mazurkas over two concerts, which also included mazurkas by three other composers...

In any case, Sergei Babayan (who btw was in the jury) makes a strong case for what I'm talking about in this interview:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/serg...ll-unpublished-version/10151418790579228

ZB: The pressure to succeed at a competition is immense; sometimes it seems one's entire career is at stake. But there is this inherent essential contradiction—musicians work as hard as possible to be on stage free from perceived judgment, and yet by their very nature competitions are all about judgment. You have prepared many students for competitions, many of them very successfully. How do you coach your students mentally? Do you even spend any time addressing these issues? Or do you concentrate exclusively on music? For example, do you have strategies about repertoire?

SB: Thank you for these questions, as they address very important subjects. I will start with the last question. I do have strategies with programming. I tell young people, for example, that when you need 40 minutes of music in a round, you do not want to put the Liszt Sonata as an entire round. I learned this from my great teachers, one of whom was Lev Naumov and the other one a great musician who worked with him closely and with deepest understanding, Vladimir Viardo. They always said that instead of one long shot you should have several short shots. Meaning, if you played the Liszt Sonata as your entire round and somebody did not like your Liszt sonata, then they disliked your entire first round. However, when you play one Scarlatti Sonata, one Haydn Sonata, then one smaller Prokofiev Sonata, and end with a piece of Chopin, you are giving yourself four chances—somebody does not like the Haydn, but likes the Prokofiev; somebody does not like the Prokofiev, but likes the Chopin. That is a strategy. In musical terms, another very important thing I learned from Vera Gornostaeva is the significance of key relationships. You can create miracles with the right contrasts of moods and key relationships as well as with their order in the program.

When choosing the program, I am like a movie director finding the right person for the right role. If you play Chopin beautifully and Beethoven is not your strong side, I might make you play lots of Beethoven for your own development. By developing your weak sides we make your stronger sides even stronger. However, I will not jeopardize your chances by giving you the Hammerklavier Sonata for a competition. So, I have to find the roles in which a pianist will thrive and show his or her best. When people ask me what other professions I could do, I tell them that I could probably be a psychiatrist, a movie director, a casting agent, or a composer. When Daniil Trifonov first came to my studio, I could, just by talking to him, immediately sense a natural Chopin pianist. You can teach to expand this affinity, you can cultivate it, and you can deepen it, but you cannot just implant it in someone out of nowhere. It is an innate quality. I assigned him lots of Chopin. Then he asked me if he could prepare for the Chopin Competition, and I said, “but Danya, you have only one year. You realize I do not want you to play any of your old pieces. I want you to learn a new Chopin Sonata with me. I want you to learn new Mazurkas. I want you to learn a new concerto." Most of his program was absolutely new. We worked together on a completely new Chopin program in a very short time.

You ask about mental preparation. I believe that we must be free—if that is at all possible—from the feeling of being judged. Mental preparation is as important as the purely pianistical work. In fact, I am sure it is more important. To be attuned to your mental state is actually a professional skill and is at the heart of being an artist. I remember I talked to Daniil about our mission as artists and musicians right before he was to walk on stage to play his Mozart Concerto on the Tchaikovsky competition. I shared with him what my deeply personal thoughts and my inner world are when I am about to walk to the piano. He was very grateful for those insights, and I could feel that they helped him to free himself from the burden of the competition. Some of those thoughts are too personal to share in an interview. The general idea is that musicians are on a mission to elevate the audience from the trivialities of everyday life and everyday worries. It takes humility and kindness, and I think Daniil’s playing has these qualities. As I was listening to him online I kept forgetting that I was listening to my student. There were so many moments of true artistic revelation. I knew that I was witnessing something very special. Music has the power to take us away from our earthly existence and bring us to a transcendental level where we begin to trust in miracles, believe in the rebirth of our lives. The power of music is to give us hope and the desire to create, to dream, and to understand the meaning of humanity.

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2283789
05/31/14 04:11 PM
05/31/14 04:11 PM
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Not that this might necessarily be the case here, but, we have encountered with this kind of "Florestan and Eusebius" posts in the past. It usually occurs among two posters or sometimes three. However the forum software used here was smart enough to trace down those situations in a short time.

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Hakki] #2283845
05/31/14 07:20 PM
05/31/14 07:20 PM
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Am I supposed to be one of the suspects of multi-accounting? That's not even amusing, hakki.

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Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: johnbroadwood] #2283848
05/31/14 07:24 PM
05/31/14 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by johnbroadwood
Originally Posted by Hakki
I am with Marty on this.
These last posts from new comers seem to be part of brand promoting efforts.
Probably from a single user under different names.


Wow.

The fact is: that Fazioli was kept somewhere else -not in the store- before it went to the competition and lots of people played it there. I am one of them. And i know the Steinway from other occasions.

I became a member to contribute to a discussion about something i happened to have an experience with, without any intention to get into a Steinway vs. Fazioli fight or any fight about any piano in the first place. I have no connection to any store, company or brand but my nickname. I wasn't even discussing about where the Fazioli came from when my comments about both pianos and finalists apparently made another user so angry that he felt the need of "defending" Fazioli.


Nobody has been angry at you. I even already apologized once in case my reply sounded angry at you and explaining that it wasn't. Why do you keep fixed on that? Maybe you missed my reply?

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: bennevis] #2283849
05/31/14 07:33 PM
05/31/14 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis


However, it's easy to see why, if you've grown up with the ubiquitous Steinway sound, with its 'built-in' color, you won't like any other. Which is why I did think it surprising - and even brave (not to mention possibly foolhardy) for four competitors to suddenly switch to Fazioli (which they might never have played before) in the middle of the finals, having played some three hours of concerts on a different piano which they'd become very accustomed to. They would have had to make adjustments to their touch (and maybe also pedaling) as well as adapt to a different key action and different tonal characteristics. Whatever prompted their switch, it must have been something very pressing - certainly a lot more than a few off-the-cuff comments from members of the audience.....(were their teachers there, for instance?)


I've been given it some thought. Someone mentioned that Colafelice was the first one asking to change pianos. Why would he take such a risky decission when the stakes were so high and he was anyway doing quite well already so far? Or rather, who did make he take that decission? He's very young, just a boy, and a prime candidate for a student position in any big professor's class... Of course, it is possible though unlikely that his current teacher was there in the hall listening to everyone... but It'd be really interesting if after this competition he goes to study with any of the jurors. That'd be a bit of a "smoking gun", don't you think?

Last edited by patfried; 05/31/14 07:35 PM.
Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: fnork] #2283851
05/31/14 07:38 PM
05/31/14 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by fnork

I didn't make most of the points you seem to think I made. I wasn't suggesting selecting 'movements of bigger works' (as in selected bits of Beethoven sonatas etc) as a good strategy, but works on the smaller scale, character pieces and whatnot. I frankly don't understand why playing 'miniatures' would be seen as a problem, as it balances things out if there already is a 'main dish' on the program. Offering a small amount of very large-scale pieces is not only problematic as a concept, but in addition, I'd say that it is important to show your abilities BOTH in large structures and in smaller ones. Smaller works are neglected in competitions like this one, which is strange to me - capturing the audience in a short 3-minute piece is a different kind of challenge than doing it over half an hour. I'm perhaps leaning towards this opinion for one more reason - just performed the complete Szymanowski mazurkas over two concerts, which also included mazurkas by three other composers...



You said that playing selected pieces from various opuses is a good idea, including from Schumann. From which, I take it to mean that you'd think it OK to program selected pieces from Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, Op.12, whatever. I would say that this is unacceptable in a recital program. It would be no different to taking out selected movements from Beethoven sonatas. Ditto for, say, Brahms's Op.116 - 119.

If you said Schubert Impromptus, Drei Klavierstücke, etc, I'd say that's OK, as they were not designed to be integral sets by the composer. Even so, Richter is the only major pianist I know who would play a few of the Impromptus and Moments musicaux, but then he's also the only one who could get away with playing just a small selection of Chopin's Op.28.....

As for performing the complete Szymanowski's or Chopin's or anyone else's mazurkas in complete recital programs, I don't think you'll find any big concert venue willing to accept that. Not even if only half your program is filled with them. (In small venues, possibly - if the organisers believe the audience will come). You would only get away with that if you group a small selection in between two larger-scale works, like a Szymanowski sonata and Chopin's F minor Fantasie.

Apart from Chopin, Fauré is probably the only other composer whose short piano pieces (Nocturnes, Ballades, etc) could justifiably fill up most of a recital program.

As a member of an audience, what I want from a concert pianist is to hear him in mainly large-scale works. A few shorter pieces are fine, but not if they make up the majority of the program (unless Chopin is the composer). Amateurs play a lot of miniatures, because many of them are fairly easy, especially if memorization is in the offing. But they don't go to concerts to listen to mostly three-minute pieces from a professional pianist.......


"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: Rubenstein Competition [Re: bennevis] #2283875
05/31/14 08:17 PM
05/31/14 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
You said that playing selected pieces from various opuses is a good idea, including from Schumann. From which, I take it to mean that you'd think it OK to program selected pieces from Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, Op.12, whatever. I would say that this is unacceptable in a recital program. It would be no different to taking out selected movements from Beethoven sonatas. Ditto for, say, Brahms's Op.116 - 119.

I was actually referring to Rubinstein when I mentioned Schumann and Chopin, and in relation to their smaller works, which Rubinstein did perform in the manner I suggested - in good taste of course, meaning, that he didn't treat Brahms op 116-119 that way, but with some earlier opuses, he did. I also wouldn't do it with op 116-119, nor with Kreisleriana for example. With op. 12 I have done it, and so did Rubinstein.
Again, I didn't quite make the point you are suggesting - I'm not exactly unaware of what an integral opus is. Then again, what I mainly was against in the context of the competition and rep choices was the overall emphasis on large-scale works with no small-scale works as contrast- selecting pieces from an opus isn't exactly the only way to counter-balance that. There is a myriad of options for coherent and valid shorter works - why didn't we see any Schumann Arabesques, Medtner Fairy-tales, why not indeed Beethoven Bagatelles or Rondos, Tchaikovsky Dumkas, Chopin waltzes/rondos/scherzi, etc etc. Large-scale is not the only format of music-making, but you're putting words in my mouth when you make it sound as though I'm suggesting that I'd prefer recitals filled only with miniatures that amateurs can play. Basically I also think any concert should have a fair chunk of large-scale works, but when I see program after program that is filled with large-scale pieces alone, I get a headache. Thank god I wasn't in the jury.

(as a side-note, I know of fine pianists who filled concert halls performing the complete Chopin Mazurkas)

Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: fnork] #2283888
05/31/14 08:45 PM
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Well, small-scale pieces do get programmed, even in London - but they don't form the 'meat' of the program.

For instance, in the South Bank's 2014-2015 series, Yevgeny Sudbin has Beethoven's Op.126, a couple of mazurkas by Chopin and Scriabin, a couple of nocturnes by Chopin and Tchaikovsky, and even Saint-Saëns/Liszt/Horowitz/Sudbin's Danse macabre as the 'encore finale' (I suppose wink ) - with sonatas by Haydn and Scriabin forming the meat. Hough (whose new CD has just one of Schumann's Op.12 - In der Nacht being the title of it) has the complete Chopin Ballades, and the complete Estampes and Children's Corner, with just two miniatures - La plus que lent and L'isle joyeuse. Yundi's is yet to be announced, though he's likely to offer a few Chinese miniatures.

Whereas Ivo Pogorelich, Sunwook Kim, Jonathan Biss and Daniel Barenboim will be offering just big steaks........


"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: Rubenstein Competition [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2283894
05/31/14 09:04 PM
05/31/14 09:04 PM
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Martin, I agree. Programs might even become *gasp* more... entertaining...


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Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: hreichgott] #2283907
05/31/14 10:06 PM
05/31/14 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Martin, I agree. Programs might even become *gasp* more... entertaining...

so true! frederic chiu sort of went that way at the cliburn - didnt advance, unfortunately!
Speaking of humour, not everyone seems able to convey that at all - several people programmed Haydn but not much of it had any humour...The winner's Haydn (1st round I think) seemed fairly dull to me.

Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: bennevis] #2283927
05/31/14 11:34 PM
05/31/14 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
....if I see a recital program where miniatures....
The only exception to this, IMO, is in all-Chopin recitals....where, because Chopin's best music isn't large-scale, programming of groups of unrelated miniatures is usual.

....although such recitals usually (I think usually) do have at least one of the sonatas, plus, additionally (redundancy for emphasis) grin usually at least a couple of the other pieces aren't that "small scale" either.


Regarding the suspicion that has been expressed about a couple of the members: While I do find it hard (still) to take some of the information at face value (including that if I were forced to bet one way or the other about the piano selection for the finals, I'd bet that what has been stated here isn't a full representation and is at least somewhat misleading), I don't see anything that suggests deviousness or otherwise untoward forum behavior.

Be that as it may, I appreciate the contributions from the new people, as well as the general discussion of Faziolis and Steinways.

I think WR's analogy of Steinway-Fazioli to Erard-Pleyel is very interesting, and from my admittedly limited experience with Faziolis, it has at least some validity. My only experience was in the first Chicago amateur competition (2010), two different Faziolis. We discussed it quite a bit in the thread on that event, starting with this post and continuing in many other posts, including these of mine: this one and this one and this one ....and this from SlatterFan, and this from Cinnamonbear who was in the audience.

Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: fnork] #2284008
06/01/14 03:35 AM
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Agreed, the repertoire choice was regrettable for several young contenders, even sometimes when programming "miniatures" or shorter major works. One first-rounder played Beet 32 Variations in c-minor followed by Rach Moments Musicaux. Better to have sandwiched something, a lighter, poetic Liszt, or, indeed, Chopin mazurkas (while we're at it!)or Ravel, from "Miroirs" -or Debussy, etc, then ending with two or three of the Rach for a big-guns finish. As it was, we had two severe minor-keyish lumps, inadequate to show his possible range. One interesting player shot himself in the foot programming Grieg Sonata,(welcome rarity but difficult to convince an audience),followed by TEN(10!!!)pieces from Romeo&Juliet of Prokofiev. I love this work but wouldn't dream of forcing it on a competition audience; three would have made an excellent group....

Others had little idea of the "flow" of a program, dishing out hard lumps of contemporary, (compulsory piece)followed by Carl Vine, or Corigliano with Prok 7th! However well played, these can be indigestible together.

Szymanowski Variations op 3 had a lovely poetic interpretation, then Haydn then Liszt, (Leggierezza & Petrarca104),ending with S-S/Liszt Danse Macabre. This was ideal in every way to illustrate your point; contrasting flavors, showing many aspects of the player's capacities.

I do agree about the "dosage" of pieces and some composers provide gifts, Debussy, Fauré, Chabrier, Tchaikovsky, Skriabin, Smetana... as well as the Medtner you mentioned, plus certain Brahms, Schumann.... I remember programs where the construction was an art and a pleasure in itself; Cherkassky was a particular master of this art.

Thank you for the Babayan interview link, most fascinating.

Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: patfried] #2284022
06/01/14 04:45 AM
06/01/14 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by patfried
Originally Posted by johnbroadwood
Originally Posted by Hakki
I am with Marty on this.
These last posts from new comers seem to be part of brand promoting efforts.
Probably from a single user under different names.


Wow.

The fact is: that Fazioli was kept somewhere else -not in the store- before it went to the competition and lots of people played it there. I am one of them. And i know the Steinway from other occasions.

I became a member to contribute to a discussion about something i happened to have an experience with, without any intention to get into a Steinway vs. Fazioli fight or any fight about any piano in the first place. I have no connection to any store, company or brand but my nickname. I wasn't even discussing about where the Fazioli came from when my comments about both pianos and finalists apparently made another user so angry that he felt the need of "defending" Fazioli.


Nobody has been angry at you. I even already apologized once in case my reply sounded angry at you and explaining that it wasn't. Why do you keep fixed on that? Maybe you missed my reply?


No, sorry, i confused your nicknames and thought it was the same person again, and in that case i obviously don't mean you.

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2284026
06/01/14 05:34 AM
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This is from the 2011 Busoni competition where he won 2nd prize.
(BTW, nicely tuned and voiced piano sound here)

I revisited his stage I and stage II performances of the Rubinstein competition. It is apparent that his priority is clarity, perfection, and distinct phrasing, as if he is recording a CD in the studio. This leads to a cautious and fragmented playing at times. But the jurors saw him as a safe bet.

On a side note it is interesting in the above video how the conductor is trying hard to keep up with the soloist. Whereas in the Rubinstein, the conductor at the romantic concertos just wanted the soloists to obey him and follow the orchestra. He was not interested in what the soloists were doing.

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Hakki] #2284031
06/01/14 06:12 AM
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aaahh, the Busoni... one of my least favourite competitions. I also had some insights into it some times, and have known jurors there. Among all the big competitions, I don't know why but this one often ends up being one of the dirtiests. I did miss that edition, though, so I can't share anything about that one.

BUT..I was there last year, and there were good stories! laugh You should check last year's final concerto round if you can. It was probably the worst final I have ever heard in professional music competitions (not just piano). A certain Rodolfo Leone, local hero with half the hability or charisma of Colafelice, cheating his way through Rach 3 and getting rewarded with 2nd Prize without 1st for it; The 3rd Prize was shared by a talented Japanese called Sakiya who at least tried an honest fight against Rach 3 as well (but unfortunately lost miserably, poor fella), and Shiskin massacring Tchaikovsky note by note (he was here in the first round of the Rubinstein). It was embarrassing to watch that final. By the way, Maria Mazo was also there (and won a minor prize i think) but surprisingly wasn't allowed into the last concerto round (only 3 people play). I know that there was a big fight among the jurors then, with some people giving her top marks and some other actually giving her zeroes (source: jurors themselves). Rather strange. Had she been allowed to play her concerto there and had she played half as good as she did here she should easily have been a Busoni 1st Prize Winner by now. That girl isn't the luckiest, really.

P.S. Another anecdote: I remember hearing Shiskin's Mozart concerto in the pre-final round. He banged it like a machine gun. It was really awful, I certainly assumed he was the worst of the 6 candidates and had lost his chances to be in the last final. Well, not only he did pass, he was awarded the Special Prize for the Best Mozart Concerto laugh That's competitions for you, my friends.

Last edited by patfried; 06/01/14 08:50 AM.
Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: pianistric] #2284092
06/01/14 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pianistric
Agreed, the repertoire choice was regrettable for several young contenders, even sometimes when programming "miniatures" or shorter major works. One first-rounder played Beet 32 Variations in c-minor followed by Rach Moments Musicaux. Better to have sandwiched something, a lighter, poetic Liszt, or, indeed, Chopin mazurkas (while we're at it!)or Ravel, from "Miroirs" -or Debussy, etc, then ending with two or three of the Rach for a big-guns finish. As it was, we had two severe minor-keyish lumps, inadequate to show his possible range. One interesting player shot himself in the foot programming Grieg Sonata,(welcome rarity but difficult to convince an audience),followed by TEN(10!!!)pieces from Romeo&Juliet of Prokofiev. I love this work but wouldn't dream of forcing it on a competition audience; three would have made an excellent group....


I do agree about the "dosage" of pieces and some composers provide gifts, Debussy, Fauré, Chabrier, Tchaikovsky, Skriabin, Smetana... as well as the Medtner you mentioned, plus certain Brahms, Schumann.... I remember programs where the construction was an art and a pleasure in itself; Cherkassky was a particular master of this art.


I had been to quite a few Cherkassky concerts - he always programmed a big work or two (e.g. Pictures, Bartók's Sonata, Chopin's 4 Ballades etc). His renowned encores pieces were just that - encores, not part of the main program. I've never known him to program miniatures as the main dish.

It all goes to show that one man's meat is another man's poison - Corigliano's Etude Fantasy followed by Vine followed by a Prok War Sonata is a great program for me: they're all in completely different styles. Similarly, Beethoven's C minor Variations followed by the complete Rach Op.16 is a nice 45-minute program, IMO.

But I agree about the Grieg Sonata - it's really not heavyweight enough to make people's ears prick up. Nor Sibelius's Sonata either. But Nielsen's Chaconne would be fine, if only someone would play it.


"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: Rubenstein Competition [Re: bennevis] #2284121
06/01/14 12:34 PM
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Fair enough, the audience's poison might also be my meat, (Corigliano/Vine/Prok, etc,)but i was working more on what Babayan spoke about. In this case, much of the audience switched off, not appreciating the style contrasts enough. The Beet/Rach program if played fantastically, (it wasn't), might make the right effect, but if half the jurors are indifferent to Rach, then disapprove of his Beet style, his "only two shots" are wasted. In competition terms, more variety would surely have helped him.

Cherkassky certainly programmed the Solid Lumps, but also many miniatures. Skriabin prelude groups, Saint-Saens études, Tchaik Dumka and Theme&Variations, Mendelssohn Prels&Fugs, SongsWithout Words, Paderewski Theme & Hairyvations, Chabrier Bourrée Fantasque, Weber Polacca Brilliant.... plus oddities such as Berkeley Preludes, Bennett Etudes, Shockhausen IX, Messiaen Ile de Feu.... many more in this vein, all on the program! You may have just caught him in Big Lump Mode each time, cos that could happen too, 4Ballades 4Scherzi Pick Chewers at an Exhib, Brahms Hairyvations, (Pandel or Hag), f-minor sonata.

A "Russian Season" program once:

Tchaik Gmaj sonata
Prok 7
Muss pictures
Balak Tarantella
Islamey
5 encores:
Skr Etude c#min
Shost Polka
Cherkassky Prelude Pathetique
Liadov (?)
RimskyRach FlightBumblebee

That's certainly in Big Lump Mode; til the encores.

I've managed to get to four performances of Nielsen Chaconne:
John Ogdon
Martin Roscoe
A student
A student.........!

Great piece.



Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: patfried] #2284143
06/01/14 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by patfried
.....I remember hearing Shiskin's Mozart concerto in the pre-final round [of last year's Busoni Competition]. He banged it like a machine gun. It was really awful, I certainly assumed he was the worst of the 6 candidates and had lost his chances to be in the last final. Well, not only he did pass, he was awarded the Special Prize for the Best Mozart Concerto laugh That's competitions for you, my friends.

Sometimes people tell a new member (or an old one) that he/she ought to say more about who he/she is. I've rarely (maybe never) felt anything like it myself before in all my 200 years here grin but I've got to say, if you're saying things like that, IMO indeed you'd better say more about who you are. Your posts have had hints -- we know that you have some familiarity with the piano scene, that you've been to competitions (in one capacity or another), and that you've been in a position to speak with jurors. But if you're saying stuff like the above in addition to trashing other aspects of competitions (or close to trashing, if you think that's too strong a word), IMO you really ought to say more -- at the very least, more about what you are, but actually I think that when you're doing criticisms of the sort that you're doing, it's frankly a bit cowardly to hide behind any anonymity at all, and I think you ought to say exactly who you are -- or else tone down this kind of trashing.

About the specifics of that situation: First of all, it seems to me highly likely that what you said is at least an exaggeration. Moreover, it doesn't say anything about other aspects of the performance. All we get, really, is that you felt it was too loud, too percussive, and insensitive -- and sure, that's a lot, but, besides seeming like at least an exaggeration, it doesn't tell us anything about other aspects, including things that juries might legitimately give great weight. Speaking just theoretically, since I don't know anything of that performance, I'm going to take a guess that I'd put a few nickels on: His rhythms and rhythmic sense were terrific -- not just spot on, but sparkling and interesting. And if not that, then something else, like his overall conception of the piece, including relations among the movements and among sections of movements.

Huge digression coming.....and therefore in small print....

I was at part of the first amateur Cliburn competition just as an audience member, and then was glad to learn that recordings of the entire competition were available. I'd never known of any such thing before. I saw the CD's as an opportunity to do a little "study" of what priorities the jury emphasized in its decisions.

I mentioned before that I think juries generally hear more than most other listeners, including other sophisticated listeners. Even granting that sometimes juries might make mistakes, including bad ones, and that perhaps sometimes the decisions can be corrupt (and indeed in that competition there was some strong feeling in that direction), I thought that a reasonable best bet was to assume that there was good rationale behind the very great majority of the decisions -- and I thought I could learn from listening to the performances, knowing which ones were advanced or not advanced. I also just found it interesting to study them in such a way. Granted, the 'study' had enormous limitations, the main one being that it was limited by what I (not exactly the most expert listener) could discern. It wouldn't hold any scientific water. Plus, the considerations in an amateur competition are hardly the same as in a professional one. Still, I felt that what I found was significant at least in that setting, and more importantly, it gave me an awareness and insight into aspects of music-making beyond anything I'd had before and (I felt) gave me a huge leap in being able to appreciate different levels of playing.


What I felt I found was that besides the most basic criterion of "Can the person really play the piece," which is not highly applicable in professional competitions, the main criterion by far seemed to be rhythm -- not just accuracy/precision but perhaps even more so, having and showing a creative and personal understanding of what the rhythms on the page are conveying. I realize that this is a very pregnant sentence grin but I'll just leave it at that for now, except to add that it involves things like exact lengths of written note values, different kinds of articulations of different-length notes, tiny ebbs and flows of speed where appropriate, and of course choices of tempos. And since then, I've found that this correlates very highly (at least for me) with my impression of musicians' playing in general. The way I've sometimes put it -- an exaggeration, of course smile -- is that what notes you play aren't as important as when you play them.

Admittedly, one of the other things I 'found' was that a very important criterion was "absence of ugly," and from what you said, that pianist perhaps -- perhaps -- should have been failed on that ground. But in any event, in your account I don't see any wonderment about "what may it have been that they saw," which is how I'd try to approach such a situation, rather than just thinking "the jury made an awful and ridiculous decision."

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2284149
06/01/14 01:50 PM
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Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Hakki] #2284152
06/01/14 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki

Thanks!!

Starting to listen.....and what I can easily determine immediately is that the prior characterization was not merely an exaggeration, but completely and utterly wrong, misleading, and.....it is taking great restraint not to say b___s___.

BTW, FWIW: I didn't know before which Mozart concerto he played. This happens to be one that I know very well. It was the first Mozart concerto that I learned. What we're hearing here is absolutely lovely Mozart playing -- no resemblance whatsoever to what was posted before, and I feel no need to append an "IMO" on that. The description was way, way off.


Pat: If the rest of what you've said about this-that-and-the-other is as accurate as what you said about this Mozart.....well......


P.S. Anyone know who wrote the cadenza that he plays in the 1st mvt?

Last edited by Mark_C; 06/01/14 02:03 PM.
Re: Rubenstein Competition [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2284153
06/01/14 02:03 PM
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There are certain problems with using short pieces and making a more varied program (which aren't necessarily the same thing).

The main problem is that a lot of (maybe the majority of) short pieces are actually parts of bigger cycles but they're only known as separate pieces. Meaning, you might lose some of the "esprit" of a piece when you take it out of its context. One of the best examples i know for that is Rachmaninoff Op. 23 ten preludes, which has a structure as a whole that can't be overlooked and the whole thing is very very rarely played (i guess mostly because no. 9, though).

There are different types of musicians; some have magnificent ability and intellect to maintain a dramaturgy throughout a work of a big scale, some are miniature artists and fascinate their audience within a small piece. Therefore i don't think there's a right way to create a program. Because there isn't one effect that a program should make. You may want to keep your audience awake and entertained, or to challenge them and force them to think (which is very rarely the case in competitions), or make them get up at the end of the concert and cheer, or you may want to leave them in tears. Not every concert has to be very "attractive" and audience-friendly, i think that's a bit too hollywood-esque thinking.

And needless to say, one person is allowed to do different types of programs on different occasions.

But when it comes to competitions, of course you can't "challenge" your audience too much. That would be risky, not wrong though.

And although having a varied program in a competition has certain advantages, it also means giving more options to the jury to dislike things.

I have no answer to the question "what should an ideal program be like". You can do anything if your reason behind doing something is clear and convincing. Anything.

Last edited by johnbroadwood; 06/01/14 02:11 PM.
Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Mark_C] #2284164
06/01/14 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
P.S. Anyone know who wrote the cadenza that he plays in the 1st mvt?

Remember in whose name the competition is? You might have a clue there laugh

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Mark_C] #2284165
06/01/14 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Thanks!!

Starting to listen.....and what I can easily determine immediately is that the prior characterization was not merely an exaggeration, but completely and utterly wrong, misleading, and.....it is taking great restraint not to say b___s___.

BTW, FWIW: I didn't know before which Mozart concerto he played. This happens to be one that I know very well. It was the first Mozart concerto that I learned. What we're hearing here is absolutely lovely Mozart playing -- no resemblance whatsoever to what was posted before, and I feel no need to append an "IMO" on that. The description was way, way off.

Well, it was off, but yours is leaning rather too much in the other direction. Describing it as 'lovely Mozart playing' also sounds like a gross exaggeration for a mostly dull and characterless (but accurate) rendition.

btw, here is how lively the piece can sound performed by someone who got to substitute another pianist on not much more than a weeks notice wink http://vimeo.com/96182376

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: fnork] #2284177
06/01/14 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fnork
Well, it was off....

Glad you agree on that. grin
And that was the main point. If you feel I'm wrong that it wasn't just off but way, way off, OK smile although I hold to my view, and I suspect you agree that "banging it like a machine gun" has no resemblance to the actual performance. I do think it's lovely Mozart playing, and indeed beyond lovely. It's possible for a performance to be "lovely" but without the beauty, sophistication (including in the rhythmic treatments, as I had guessed), and (IMO!) Mozartean 'perfection' that I find in this performance. I'm surprised you find it dull and characterless, but OK. That's subjective. I'm not sure "banging it like a machine gun" can be defended on subjectivity.

P.S. Thanks for the 'hint' on whose cadenza that is. ha

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Mark_C] #2284186
06/01/14 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
...the prior characterization was not merely an exaggeration, but completely and utterly wrong, misleading, and.....it is taking great restraint not to say b___s___.



+1 thumb

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Mark_C] #2284191
06/01/14 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Glad you agree on that. grin
And that was the main point. If you feel I'm wrong that it wasn't just off but way, way off, OK smile although I hold to my view, and I suspect you agree that "banging it like a machine gun" has no resemblance to the actual performance. I do think it's lovely Mozart playing, and indeed beyond lovely. It's possible for a performance to be "lovely" but without the beauty, sophistication (including in the rhythmic treatments, as I had guessed), and (IMO!) Mozartean 'perfection' that I find in this performance. I'm surprised you find it dull and characterless, but OK. That's subjective. I'm not sure "banging it like a machine gun" can be defended on subjectivity.

P.S. Thanks for the 'hint' on whose cadenza that is. ha

Haha, 'banging like a machine-gun' was a rather funny description indeed. As for the performance, it was perfectly alright and even had some nice touches, but it came across as somewhat rigid and unflexible to me, and without any major contrasts anywhere. The F# minor section in the last movement is one of many spots where you'd expect a character change, but he sort of just went on in the same manner as previously.

Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: fnork] #2284199
06/01/14 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by fnork
... it was perfectly alright and even had some nice touches, but it came across as somewhat rigid and unflexible to me, and without any major contrasts anywhere. The F# minor section in the last movement is one of many spots where you'd expect a character change, but he sort of just went on in the same manner as previously.


That's exactly what was wrong with him in Rubinstein. Probably it was more obvious because he played the Waldstein.


Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2284217
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Shishkin - Waldstein

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=GF1h2L56ba0#t=3147

One of his major drawback is that he relies too much on the una corda pedal. Instead he should have created the shadings using his touch in some places. He is not pressing the keys all the way down sometimes. And overall too metronomic playing. Though his playing is very accurate.

Last edited by Hakki; 06/01/14 04:27 PM.
Re: Rubinstein Competition [Re: johnbroadwood] #2284244
06/01/14 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by johnbroadwood
Originally Posted by fnork
... it was perfectly alright and even had some nice touches, but it came across as somewhat rigid and unflexible to me, and without any major contrasts anywhere. The F# minor section in the last movement is one of many spots where you'd expect a character change, but he sort of just went on in the same manner as previously.


That's exactly what was wrong with him in Rubinstein. Probably it was more obvious because he played the Waldstein.

Certainly - tried listening through a bit of that performance, and while he did get into it after a while, it came across as mediocre in so many ways. some pp's came out louder than p's, crescendi to subito piano were ignored, sforzati ignored, the overall dynamic scale was surprisingly small. THIS was the best they could find at the last Busoni competition?

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