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Joined: Apr 2013
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Originally Posted by SiFi
I only recently started performing again after lots of years and in my first live solo performance in almost 30 years last Sunday - the Beethoven Op. 126

welcome back to performing! and a magnificent piece to do it with.

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- I made mistakes where I had never ever made them before. I wasn't nervous and in normal circumstances I could play the music in my sleep, but I still sucked.

Quote
Then my teacher today said I needed to work on posture and projecting melodic lines and dynamic gradation, and some other stuff; nothing about the mistakes.

This pair of comments is so telling. I've been there so many times. (I don't have your level of musical education BTW, I just play in front of people for work a lot, and give a small number of classical performances a year.) The person performing is distracted and annoyed by note mistakes. But listeners, even very knowledgeable ones, do not care about note mistakes as much as they care about musical issues, particularly those issues that make a performance boring or exciting. We just have to believe in this when we walk onstage smile The most important thing is to communicate the music.



Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
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Just listened to the performance. Enjoyed it very much. You obviously get what this music is about, and you communicate it, and you also take some quite energetic tempi with great success! Certainly a successful performance, congratulations.

I did hear a very small number of note issues, but they are not egregious at all, they are either perfectly logical insertions of material that sounds right but isn't what Beethoven put there, or else they are occasional blurred notes in rapid passages where Beethoven's note is there along with the neighboring note. Both types of issues happen all the time in concert performances.

I understand what your teacher is talking about regarding melodic projection. There are some problems with balance in that the top voice in the RH is usually louder than everything else and usually by the same amount, no matter what is going on, which both covers up interesting material in the LH, and makes it hard to shape melodies enough even in the top voice. A really clear example is in the middle of no. 3 where the RH just has that trill and we can't hear the melody. But then in the B major section of no. 4, the LH drone was inexplicably loud and drowned out the RH melody.

I'd be inclined to blame the piano for part of the problem though. Is it a Ritmuller? I've played one on a couple of occasions and I felt that the extremes of the piano were too brassy and the middle was too dead. Most of the important LH lines in this piece are in the middle, except for that drone, which is quite low.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

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Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
. . . perfectly logical insertions of material that sounds right but isn't what Beethoven put there, . . .
So polite - and funny! You are a very kind critic.


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Originally Posted by hreichgott
I'd be inclined to blame the piano for part of the problem though. Is it a Ritmuller?

It's a 9' Bluthner and yes it does have some voicing and other issues. The space has serious acoustic problems as well. And of course the recording quality adds a whole other layer of imperfection. But your observations and comments are valid in spite of all this. Thank you for the constructive feedback.


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If you're not just talking about note errors, then you could argue that every note we play is a mistake. A melody can always be expressed better, contrast between dynamics can always be smoother/more precise, the accompaniment can compliment the melody better, etc.

So if you evaluate a performance like this it becomes clear that the "perfect" performances of Hamelin/Argerich/Richter are in fact anything but. They're just really good attempts at perfection.


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I've attended well over 100 recital/concerto concerts--none were note-perfect. Andras Schiff's "Goldberg Variations" probably came the closest, along with a 1980ish recital by Pogorelich, but they were not 100%--maybe 99% clean. smile Oh wait...I recently heard Pierre-Laurent Aimard play an all-Boulez recital...who would know if he missed a note? wink (Some of the other pianists include Gilels, Berman, Gavrilov, Hamelin, Matsuev, Feltsman, Ohlsson, Laredo, and many, many others--they all hit a few clinkers, but in view of their artistry and the difficulty of their programs, they were scarcely noticeable.)


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Originally Posted by Batuhan
It's impossible for me to make no mistakes during a performance even... i practice the piece one thousand times .

Here's the thing, you didn't practice it a thousand times. I bet not even a few hundred times.

We are all prone to hyperbole, we're human, I say that to my teacher as well " i did this endlessly! I did this a hundred times! I practiced this for hours and hours!"


but if you actually go back and calculate carefully, you will notice you only did a partial of what you said.


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I've heard that we perform to a standard 6 months behind where we are in practice. But frankly, I can't think of too many pieces that I have ever perfected in practice, either - to the point that I could easily and effortlessly play all the way through with no note errors. It just was never a priority for me. I feel that on most instruments, the effort, coordination and precision required to play just one note means that if you are at the top of your game, you don't make mistakes. On the piano, we're doing a lot more actions per minute and also struggling with inherent physiological challenges that trouble every pianist, all the way from the novice to the top of the top.

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"We strive for perfection but settle for excellence."

I remember YoYo Ma saying in an interview that he had memory lapses during performances until he learned to 'breath.'


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
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We are all humans. I don't think concert pianist don't make mistakes at all during the performance. They do make mistakes but they know how to recover without the audience notice it.


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I rarely notice their mistakes, but when they perform something I have learned myself I do. And I am always amazed how they can survive so well. I recently watched someone play a fast Scarlatti sonata and she made a complete mess of one part, but just went on in the right tempo and returned to the track after a while. I doubt most people in the audience noticed. Also my teacher told me she forgot one part in a concerto and just improvised, but no matter how many times I watch the performance I cannot tell where it happens, because I don't know the piece. Then again, she said the conductor didn't notice either. I guess you learn to fake well if you are a pro...

Also it seems pianists sometimes ease up on the tempo a little when performing live (as opposed to when recording) and take more time between phrases. Unless the audience is equipped with metronomes, not many are likely to notice that either. I think if you don't go to live concerts but listen to a lot of recordings, you get an unrealistic idea of the level of perfection pianists have. That's one reason why I have decided to go to as many live recitals as I possibly can from now on smile

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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
I've heard that we perform to a standard 6 months behind where we are in practice.


Along the same lines - some famous pianist once said that you can only produce in a live performance about 70% of what you achieve while practicing.

Another good reason not to perform live, for me!


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In the piano music I am listening to, my favourite pieces (thinking of 2 I love) play what looks to me like some wrong notes. It is ok, they are still my favourite. smile

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Originally Posted by Scriabin67


Ok, why don't you post a video of Lang Lang
making a mistake?

I ain't holding my breath, because you won't find it!

Lang Lang is as close to perfection as you will get
in a pianist.


Well, you did ask!! An appalling Rhapsody in Blue.....(go to 1min 55sec)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBqRdINvH0g

Glenn Gould could have improved massively by learning to keep quiet. Nobody denies the talent (I think) but you have to face facts. When the performer is heard above the piano and is not a singer there IS room for improvement.

I won't post a video, I think we all know.

This hero worship is a fatuous waste of time. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses.

There is no such thing as "the greatest pianist of all time" but there are hundreds of, "my favourite"


Last edited by slipperykeys; 10/04/15 05:26 AM.
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I second, third and fourth what Mr Slippery has posted above (and he beat me to the punch in regards to Lang Lang). I'm not immune, like anyone else, to wanting to hear a performance mistake free, but I like to think I go to a performance to hear the music, not as a judge of a horse race. Music isn't simply about "perfection" but I think this notion of perfection is why the list of "great performers" these days is so full of technical wiz kids. Exciting? Yes. Moving? Hm, maybe only when they look to the sky and have you believe it is so.

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As an amateur, returning pianist to the keyboard, I am inspired and in awe of the professionals. I am unable to critique their accuracy and appreciate that they cope with the mistakes - professionally. One of my sons said to me that it is the professional that plays through to the end....! That was after I played an appalling (to my ears!) Claire de Lune for about 5 family and friends audience.
I had learned it , mistakes and all, as a teenager and had played it back then with all the bravado I had at that age. This time , shall we say 50 years later, having re-leanred it as an mature adult I was able to relax and glide through the weak spot (!) but I suppose the musicality came through because I saw tears in the eyes of those listening. If I had not played it to them, they might never have heard it at all. This realization has emboldened me and I shall try to play more to them though I am very hard on myself and am ever chasing that elusive idea of perfection.


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