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Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399248
03/17/15 11:52 AM
03/17/15 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by fnork
why are we hearing the same old Tchai 1 year after year performed in more-or-less the same standard way?


The answer is very simple.

Human nature.

By nature humans are attracted by BEAUTY and are repelled by the UGLY.

These new concertos are simply so ugly that, humans escape from them.

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Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399251
03/17/15 12:02 PM
03/17/15 12:02 PM
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But... but... but... beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or your wife is the most beautiful woman in the whole world... for everyone (this could create some serious problems).

The world is NOT a beautiful place, we have to search in order to find beauty, but what would beauty be if it was indistinguishable from the rest? (<-pseudophilosophical question)

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399255
03/17/15 12:11 PM
03/17/15 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by fnork
Just a few brief comments to the discussion so far with regards to new music and how new piano concerti do not get played as much as Rach 2. Without wanting to generalize too much, I want to point out that a lot of people who are involved with new music tend to keep up a very large body of repertoire and may be expected to switch from one program to another with little time, or learn brand new works close to their premiere. This is not merely a 'survival issue', but it also reflects the interests of people involved with new music, jumping into unknown repertoire with unknown challenges with great interest and fascination. Why is this important? Because few people heavily involved with new music care so much for the notion of 'standard repertoire' and mindlessly repeating the same old war horses year after year. I know plenty of absolutely first-rate musicians who focus on contemporary but are equally capable of giving insightful and thoughtful performances of Bach, Beethoven or Chopin. But few of them are interested in repeating themselves with the same surprise-free program of 'standard repertoire' night after night. Indeed, there are no piano concertos written after Bartok's 3rd that can be said to be performed with any regularity similar to concertos by Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky. But is that a way to measure the success of a musical work? And shouldn't we really turn the question around for a change - why are we hearing the same old Tchai 1 year after year performed in more-or-less the same standard way?


You ask a very important and pertinent question, fnork: what constitutes a piano concerto "success"?

Previously, it had been thought (at least I had thought) that a success was measured by the excitement a new premiere generated; by how many pianists immediately requested a copy of the score; by how often it got programmed by other orchestras; and by how many albums/CD's it sold.

By that criteria none of these piano concertos are a success. But maybe we have to redefine what "success" means. Perhaps in this time of extreme austerity when every dollar counts and community orchestras are dropping like flies, "success" is just making it to the BBC Proms even if the concerto is never heard from again.

I think it takes a certain type of advanced music intellect to appreciate the kind of music that Volans and Rzewski write--one that the vast majority of the population will not and cannot ever come to possess. And I think that the few who possess this intellect--who may be sick to death of the diatonic-ism of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky--have had to redefine the definition of "success" to mean a new piano concerto that doesn't necessarily have to "survive" past the premiere to be considered a success. If it has said something unusual or unexpected then it is a success.

But has the Volans Concerto No 3 said anything new? What distinguishes it from the Rzewski and perhaps a thousand other piano concertos written in the last 10 years?

As I postulated in my post above: I believe that music has gone as far as it is capable of going. Music cannot get more dissonant than it is now. Sample a few of these:

http://www.ashleywang.com/5.html

And Ashley is considered among the more successful composers of "new" music.

It is a conundrum to me: a piano concerto that is heard once and then forgotten is a "success"; Rachmaninoff's 2nd concerto, which is played thousands of times a year by every orchestra in the world is now passé. If there is a definition of insanity in the classical music world today, it is that Ms. Wang is more successful than Rachmaninoff by one definition; by another definition she is an abject failure. crazy

Last edited by J Joe Townley; 03/17/15 12:13 PM.
Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: J Joe Townley] #2399365
03/17/15 05:13 PM
03/17/15 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by J Joe Townley
But has the Volans Concerto No 3 said anything new? What distinguishes it from the Rzewski and perhaps a thousand other piano concertos written in the last 10 years?

Implying that the Volans and Rzewski concerto are in any way similar is just ridiculous to me, sorry. The Rzewski is written for significantly smaller orchestra (size similar to in Beethoven's days) while the Volans is very large-scale. The form is completely different. The Rzewski has an improvised cadenza in it, which the Volans does not. The sound-worlds in these pieces are so obviously different, as is the thematic material.

And if Ashley Wang's music symbolizes how 'music cannot get more dissonant' then I rather doubt you are familiar with a wide range of contemporary music. I had a few listens - I could cite much more obviously dissonant music than this.


Quote
I think it takes a certain type of advanced music intellect to appreciate the kind of music that Volans and Rzewski write--one that the vast majority of the population will not and cannot ever come to possess. And I think that the few who possess this intellect--who may be sick to death of the diatonic-ism of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky--have had to redefine the definition of "success" to mean a new piano concerto that doesn't necessarily have to "survive" past the premiere to be considered a success. If it has said something unusual or unexpected then it is a success.

The belief that certain music requires 'advanced music intellect' to be appreciated baffles me. But you'd be surprised to hear that Bach's contemporaries used to say such things about his music. People complained that Mozart's music was too complex. And so forth. Functioning ears and an open mind is all that is required to appreciate music.

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399372
03/17/15 05:24 PM
03/17/15 05:24 PM
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Let's try to continue the thread by all means, and I'd be happy to see others contribute with noteworthy recent concertos! But let's try to keep the discussion somewhat above claims that NEW = UGLY and that 'human nature' wants the 'beauty' that no music has expressed in recent decades. If you feel that new music has nothing to contribute with, then perhaps you won't have much to contribute with to this thread, either.

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399373
03/17/15 05:28 PM
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Must be me then. I concede. confused

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399378
03/17/15 05:37 PM
03/17/15 05:37 PM
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Hey, everyone is entitled to their opinions - just tried to point out some differences I find obvious in how the music is made in these two pieces. They are very different composers to my mind (though there are some similarities too, one could argue).

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399382
03/17/15 05:52 PM
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Being ugly has nothing to do with new or old. Either can be ugly.

But human nature instinctively distinguishes the ugly. This is a known fact supported by tests even made on infants. It has been written to our genes through thousands of years of evolution.


Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399409
03/17/15 07:04 PM
03/17/15 07:04 PM
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Hakki, you have made your feelings very clear in each of your five or so posts in this discussion so far. Thank you very much, now let's move on, please. Your opinion is noted.

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399484
03/17/15 10:18 PM
03/17/15 10:18 PM
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Last November Seattle Symphony premiered a new piano concerto by Alexander Raskatov, a composer I had not heard of. It is not available on YouTube but can be purchased on iTunes. Some more info here:

http://www.allmusic.com/album/raska...ravinsky-the-rite-of-spring-mw0002766389

I rather enjoyed it, certainly it was accessible enough to anyone with an open ear for new music. (Maybe a bit 'dark' for Hakki. wink )

I always listen via iPlayer to the weekly BBC broadcast of Choral Evensong. There is some really fine new music being written for the Anglican Church, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to sample it. (Of course there is always a signal-to-noise ratio with any new music, and there have been a few 'stinkers', IMO.)




Jason
Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399519
03/18/15 12:12 AM
03/18/15 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by fnork


Quote
I think it takes a certain type of advanced music intellect to appreciate the kind of music that Volans and Rzewski write--one that the vast majority of the population will not and cannot ever come to possess. And I think that the few who possess this intellect--who may be sick to death of the diatonic-ism of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky--have had to redefine the definition of "success" to mean a new piano concerto that doesn't necessarily have to "survive" past the premiere to be considered a success. If it has said something unusual or unexpected then it is a success.

The belief that certain music requires 'advanced music intellect' to be appreciated baffles me. But you'd be surprised to hear that Bach's contemporaries used to say such things about his music. People complained that Mozart's music was too complex. And so forth. Functioning ears and an open mind is all that is required to appreciate music.


I totally agree. The kind of music simple enough for me to understand intellectually is not the kind of music I necessarily appreciate. Predictability is not that enjoyable. The best experiences with music come when the sound world can penetrate the rationality barrier in my mind and go directly to the more primitive parts of my brain.

I also don't seem to have the kind of mind Hakki has, because "beauty" isn't so important for me. Or maybe I just see beauty in "ugliness".

Anyway, you cannot find many of the more recent concertos in YT and there's not many opportunities to hear them live. So unless one is willing to buy recordings it might be difficult to hear them. My latest purchase is the recording of Kalevi Aho's concerto nr 2. Compared to some other modern works it's almost too traditional smile

I guess for me it really goes too far when they include human voice...I really don't want to to hear sopranos in piano concertos...

Heiniö concerto nr 6



Last edited by outo; 03/18/15 12:47 AM.
Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399942
03/19/15 02:10 AM
03/19/15 02:10 AM
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Here's a link to Kyle Gann's page of audio files on his website.

http://www.kylegann.com/Gannaudio.html

At the top of the page are links a recording of the two movements of his Sunken City (Concerto for Piano and Winds In Memoriam New Orleans) from 2007, plus program notes, and even a pdf of the score.

It's written in something close to a populist style, very much influenced by the sound of New Orleans jazz, but with subtle rhythmic and harmonic dislocations and extensions that may reflect the influence of Ives and Nancarrow on Gann, I think. I find the long and mostly slow second movement to be delicately poignant in overall effect, and the first is mostly just plain fun until things get a bit darker towards the end.

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2399983
03/19/15 05:18 AM
03/19/15 05:18 AM
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I believe the natural impulse is towards beauty. Many years ago I was working as an art critic in Bombay. The State Gallery was one of the few airconditioned public buildings at that time and during the swelteringly hot mid day hours, the rickshaw pullers and tiffin carriers .... the poorest of all laborers ... used to come into the gallery to excape the heat. They would quietly walk around trying not to attract attention so they could enjoy the cool respite. One day I decided to ask one of them which of the paintings on display he liked best. He gave it considerable thought and then after a long time came over to tell me which one he'd chosen. I was astounded that he'd chosen one of the two or three best in the show. So I asked another man a few days later ... the same result. I must have asked this question of dozens of uneducated laborers over a span of several months ... with the same results .... They invariably picked the best pieces. Skipping over the "popular" gaudy mythological and film poster styles and zeroing in on beautiful landscapes and portraits and the best of the abstracts.

Years later, teaching young piano students I tried the same experiment ... giving them a choice of a simple Mozart or a contemporary "children's piece" from their primers. Without naming the composer. Both pieces of the same difficulty. Mozart of Haydn won out nearly all the time.

Tonight I was playing a suite by Zipoli ... An Italian cleric who lived in the 1700's. I love his music so much that I come back to it repeatedly. So does my cat .... who regularly climbs onto the keys to enjoy the notes or possibly the vibrations. Tonight she carefully lifted herself onto the keys and then strolled over to sprawl over my hands, purring loudly. I tried to explain she couldn't crawl INTO the piano but she remained unconvinced.

I do not think I will subject her .... or myself to any more of the Volans Concerto. It is abrasive and after less than three or four minutes my teeth ached with the dissonances. It is ugly and jarring. No food for the soul. Simply cacophony.

Yes I will be slammed for my unsophisticated taste ... there will be defenders of Volans who insist it is "beautiful". I cannot find it. All I know is that ordinary people invariably like those Indian laborers, veer towards what is beautiful and harmonious. Concert halls fill up for a Chopin recital or the ever favorite Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky .... but the only way those seats are occupied for contemporary classical works is if they are somehow wedged into the "season"s tickers" programs. And if a city symphony schedules too many of these unpopular concerts their ticket sales will plummet.

We nearly lost our Honolulu Symphone a few years back when a new conductor decided to foist the 20th century composers onto us. People didn't like it and stopped buying season ticket. Sales slipped and the symphony nearly went bankrupt until the organizers woke up. And restored the music the people preferred. Yep .... not Volans ... Beethoven, Chopin and .... Tchaikovsky.

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: TheHappyPianoMuse] #2399988
03/19/15 05:27 AM
03/19/15 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
We nearly lost our Honolulu Symphone a few years back when a new conductor decided to foist the 20th century composers onto us. People didn't like it and stopped buying season ticket. Sales slipped and the symphony nearly went bankrupt until the organizers woke up. And restored the music the people preferred. Yep .... not Volans ... Beethoven, Chopin and .... Tchaikovsky.
Which means that there's no need for new composers to exist, especially if they can't live as composers.

Let them rot in heck I say! wink Chopin and Beethoven is enough. frown

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: Nikolas] #2400008
03/19/15 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
We nearly lost our Honolulu Symphone a few years back when a new conductor decided to foist the 20th century composers onto us. People didn't like it and stopped buying season ticket. Sales slipped and the symphony nearly went bankrupt until the organizers woke up. And restored the music the people preferred. Yep .... not Volans ... Beethoven, Chopin and .... Tchaikovsky.
Which means that there's no need for new composers to exist, especially if they can't live as composers.

Let them rot in heck I say! wink Chopin and Beethoven is enough. frown


I have to admit .... somewhat wryly ... if they persist in foisting "chicken feet" on us, then let 'em rot frown bah ( I'm referring here to an exhibition I covered at the Honolulu Academy a number of years ago, There were 49 pairs of chicken feet stapled to the gallery wall ... definitely a political statement, but hardly an artistic one. Considerably dismayed, I said to the Director " Good grief ... how will I ever cover this?" He shrugged and replied, " You think you have problems ... I have to have the entire gallery wall replastered and painted when this is taken down ..."

If composers ( and artists) would stop trying so desperately to be "trendy" and consider the artistic value of their creations, the natural progression and growth of artistic ideas would take hold and flourish. But the ease of making noise with electronic equipment combined with laziness and insufficient practical training leads these contemporary "composers" to believe that pages of impossble arpeggios and enormous unwieldy chords are great music. Obviously the result is that few people want to actually listen to their compositions.

Hey, I've heard your compositions on YouTube and a wonderful collection of electronic short clips on your own site and you are a perfect example of a serious trained musician who is beautifully bridging that gap ... letting new ideas flow naturally out of an obviously classical background. And it works. Very very well. And I suspect there are quite a few people playing Sideris pieces right now ... and am pretty sure they'll be playing them in the future. laugh


Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2400013
03/19/15 07:41 AM
03/19/15 07:41 AM
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HappyPianoMuse, we've had this chat about beauty in music before and I know we are agreed on that subject. About modern music though, I wonder if you may be painting it with too broad a brush. Some modern music is meant to be abrasive. Some (especially early modern like Stravinsky) is meant to be an acerbic antidote to the lush schmaltzy stuff that was mainstream music at the time. Some is meant to be clever and show off the ingenuity of the composer. Some is meant to push the limits of what can be done with sound in the first place. And some is meant just to be beautiful.

Not to mention the modern period is now 100 years long depending how you count, making it one of the longer musical periods and thus filled with an enormous variety of music. If you don't like something you are sure to like something else.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

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Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: Hakki] #2400030
03/19/15 08:21 AM
03/19/15 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
This type of music (well not really music, but I am supposed to call these like that, anyway) just makes me sick.

And I really adore to people who can stand this type of - well I don't know what to call it, it is definitely not music, but it is more like an output of a sick mind - "thing" more than a few minutes.
I can't imagine being any part of the performance, and I adore to people who perform these things, they really have strong nerves.


Plenty of examples of "music" you probably like that was written by "sick minds".


Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: fnork] #2400038
03/19/15 08:47 AM
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I think people need to stop looking at this as "sophisticated". I have probably less knowledge about music theory, orchestration, etc, ythan many posters here, yet i enjoy a good lot of 20th century music. It is not about being sophisticated or snobbish.

Like Nikolas has mentioned before, beauty is very subjective, and also, i don't necessarily look for beauty in every artictic work i care about.

My late composition teacher said in one of our first lessons that music has to be "well written", technically, formally; then people may or may not like what you're saying, but no one can say you don't know your craft. Then you may even not like the outcome, but at least make sure it is correct and well put together.

Many composers of the past were not appreciated as much as they are now in their lifetimes. The point of composers writing "classical" music, or music of written tradition, is to kep the art alive. ANd i totally understand that authors look for new ways and languages , as an artist you need to try to find something new, a statement that no one has made before. Not at the risk of being absurd, but you have to take chances. You're not going to beat Beethoven at his game, why even try?

I love Ligeti, Messiaen ... yet i profoundly despise other forms of art that like the chicken feet example, or the "work" below, a glass of water on a shelf that goes for 20,000 euros and makes it to one of the top art shows in Europe. Not anything goes in art, but modern music has to be given a chance, and not be denied its integrity, and all composers thrown in the same bag just because of dissonance.

http://www.mediavida.com/foro/off-topic/un-vaso-de-agua-20000-euros-531121

Re: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: izaldu] #2400053
03/19/15 09:33 AM
03/19/15 09:33 AM
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Let's not beat about the bush here - there's a lot of (?inverse) snobbery in the arts, including of course so-called 'classical' music. Along the lines of "You don't like it, because you're too stupid to understand it." grin

That is, someone who purports to love cacophony/plink-plonk/whatever stuff is 'superior' in intellect to someone who only likes 'tunes'. Well, in the latter category are great musicians who openly said that they want 'tunes' - Ashkenazy, Perahia et al - and quite a few others, no doubt, who feel that they are better off citing the Fifth Amendment when asked for their opinions......

I think I'm as open to new stuff as anyone else, and I'm interested in contemporary music (and listen regularly to it on BBC Radio 3 - I'd rather hear a new piece by a composer I've never heard of, than an old warhorse like Tchaik 1 beaten to death by another whizz kid). I also play it, if the music looks like music. But there is, to put it mildly, an awful lot of trash out there. Composers whose 'explanations' for each plink and plonk and crash-bang are more lengthy (and wishy-washy) than the cacophony that they present as their latest masterpiece, for example. Composers who can't even tell when the performer takes huge liberties with their music - like leaving out huge chunks of inconvenient notes, or substituting their own.

I'd say, if you want to write complex (or even simple) dissonant music that grate on people's ears, make sure you know exactly what it sounds like. Even better, if it's for a solo instrument, that you can actually play it yourself.......

But there's also a lot of new, serious (and not so serious) music being composed today that not only makes sense (though it may not immediately appeal without repeated listening) but stays in the memory. Even memorable. So, I'd say - listen with an open mind, and be prepared to listen again and again. I've heard lots of stuff in recent years that puzzled me initially (but still sounded intriguing), but after a few hearings, made perfect sense. I often record stuff and put it on my iPod: if the music palls rather than gains in appeal with repeated listening, it gets junked grin.

But also, don't be afraid to call a spade a spade.......


"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: Recent piano concerti...? [Re: bennevis] #2400197
03/19/15 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis


I'd say, if you want to write complex (or even simple) dissonant music that grate on people's ears, make sure you know exactly what it sounds like. Even better, if it's for a solo instrument, that you can actually play it yourself.......

But also, don't be afraid to call a spade a spade.......


Nailed it! If you are writing for a specific instrument like the piano , make sure it's "playable" .... either by yourself or a good pianist. If for a full orchestra, please be familiar with the timbre and range and basic technicalities of the instruments, not just slap a few notes into a computerized "orchestration" program.

The bottom line is that there are NO shortcuts in the actual creation of music ... the shortcuts/assists offered by technology are valuable for creating scores, editing, clipping, adjusting recording effects .... but NOT for composing. You can tell a "fake" in a few measures. Impossible arpeggios and gargantuan chords and speeds impossible for "live" performers. Cut and paste doesn't cut it.

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