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Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729186
04/15/18 02:45 PM
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Fascinating! For me, the older piano brings out the left hand more - makes it more tempting to focus on. The modern piano creates an equally compelling atmosphere, but so different - more of an overall effect, less of a perception of the individual lines in the music. Thank you so much for posting this.


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Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729206
04/15/18 03:55 PM
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I didn't comment on the respective merits of the modern grand and a period one of Chopin's era earlier, because I don't think one can do so fairly with such different pianists, neither of whom are noted for their Chopin. (I don't particularly enjoy Arrau's somewhat deliberate & Teutonic manner in Chopin, for instance).

But I found a few performances where the same notable Chopin pianist Dang Thai Son (past winner of the Warsaw Competition) played on a period Érard and a modern Steinway in the same piece - live - in the same year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KnKZXaLQCM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJhA0vayYHs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iYeOxsenEE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPnnZDF_QLM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BhI3AESKPM

Each has its merits.....


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Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: MikeN] #2729248
04/15/18 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeN


Hmm, on this note I recently went and heard Boris Berezovsky play a couple weeks back. I remember I found him to be more of a circus act than an interesting and sensitive musician when I was a teenager listening to recordings of him. Strangely enough though, as I myself have advanced pianistically over the last decade, I’ve gained a certain respect and fascination and enjoyment for his approach. So, when he finally made his way to my part of the states, I had to go.



Yes, I've warmed up some to Berezovsky, too. Or maybe he's the one who warmed up?

Earlier in his career, he often seemed almost robotic to me, more concerned with displaying that dazzling technique of his than anything else. It wasn't very interesting, after a while. But in the last five years or so, I've noticed YouTube performances of his that seem much more focused on the music, and communicating it to the listener, and so are much more satisfying to me. He sometimes plays things other than the same old canonical core repertoire, such as Medtner - I appreciate when pianists do that. And he has done some jazz, which may have helped him to relax a bit and feel the music more than in the earlier part of his career.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: outo] #2729251
04/15/18 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by outo
Speaking of expressiveness on a piano, which one do you find more expressive:

Chopin nocturne 72-1

Chopin Nocturne 72-1

Both wonderfully played but on very different instruments...


It’s a shame you have not received any replies to this post..., yes, They are both wonderful recordings but my ears preferred the modern piano. Maybe it’s just because this is the instrument I normally hear? I need to do a little more personal research to concretely determine a preference. .


I like both but the first one has more effect on me. I not sure exactly why I am drawn to the sound of very old pianos. There's a sort of edge there that is missing in the fuller modern piano sound.


As to the original question, I think I find the piano more expressive, by which, I mean that it seems to have greater capacity to convey a wider range of sounds in terms of pure volume, resonance/sustain, and perhaps a characteristic of sound for which I do not know the proper name. It is the continuum from metallic(hard/bright) to non-metallic sound(soft/muted). I suspect the piano can cover most of the range of the pianoforte in these measures, but, that the pianoforte cannot cover the like range of the piano.

I certainly enjoy the piano sound more.

On a related note, in some of the notes posted under the YT Pianoforte video bennevis linked to, someone described that Pianoforte as being "metal free" or something like that. I was immediately reminded of the difference between the violin and the mandolin, both of which I tormented in an earlier part of my life. They are tuned exactly the same. And, in my case, along with other bluegrass musicians, the violin is strung with metal strings just like the mandolin. Despite identical tuning, and similar construction of the instrument body, they made remarkably differing sounds. And not just from bowing/picking difference.

When the violin string is plucked, it has a very short sustain. The mandolin sustains much longer.

Also, the violin string, when plucked, makes a very muted, warm sound, whereas the mandolin makes a very bright, reaching sound.

Without the scientific background to make definitive conclusions, I am of the opinion that the mandolin is brighter and sustains longer due to hard parts that intervene between the strings and the wooden, resonating body of the instrument. Where the tuning head meets the neck and fretboard, the mandolin strings are stretched across the "nut" which is constructed from hard, unyielding materials such as plastic or ivory. And, directly over the resonating chamber body, the other end of the strings, the strings are stretched across the bridge, which typically has metal intervening between the strings and the body of the instrument. The violin, on the other hand, has exclusively wood in those places.

So, if the "non metal" comment attached to the Pianoforte video linked by bennevis means that the strings have no metal whatsoever intervening between them and the soundboard, then I think the differences between the pianoforte and piano are very similar in both effect and origin to the difference between the violin and mandolin.

Have any of you ever played one of those older, turn of the 20 century upright pianos that utilize the "birdcage" action? Shortly after I began piano I went to look at an old, used piano. It had the birdcage action. And, the strings did not cross any metal parts, if I remember correctly. The strings essentially were stretched over, and crossed two wooden rises, one at each end of the operative part of the string. So, like the violin, there was no metal whatsoever, intervening between the strings and the wooden soundboard. The string vibrations were transmitted on both ends directly into the wood of the piano. At the bridge end, the vibrations went directly to the soundboard as the bridge was glued directly to the soundboard as in modern pianos. My memory of the string-to-piano connection at the top end is less clear. My best guess is that the string crossed over another bridge type of wood, but, I cannot remember if that wood piece was also glued to the soundboard, to the pinblock, or to a member of the piano's frame.

If you have played such an instrument, can you comment on its similarity to the Pianoforte. If all my suspicions and observations are correct, I would anticipate some similarity between the birdcage upright and the pianoforte.

Last edited by Ralphiano; 04/15/18 09:11 PM.

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Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729268
04/15/18 10:28 PM
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Just to clarify, pianoforte is a term that means any piano, modern or old. Fortepiano is used for the old type of pianoforte in English, but in some languages they also use it for the modern piano. There are some great videos in YT describing the technical differences in the making of old versus new pianos. The biggest difference is probably that the first fortepianos were straight strung (the strings were not crossed over as in any modern piano). This allows for a certain clarity of registers. But even with the first pianos with crossed strings the sound is quite different to a modern concert instrument. How much is due to materials used and how much is due to the design I don't know.

I have only had a chance to try out period pianos briefly in a museum. I've heard a few performances live though.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: Medved1] #2729271
04/15/18 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Medved1
Fascinating! For me, the older piano brings out the left hand more - makes it more tempting to focus on. The modern piano creates an equally compelling atmosphere, but so different - more of an overall effect, less of a perception of the individual lines in the music. Thank you so much for posting this.

I think the clarity of the lower register and the natural sustain in the upper registers is one of the reasons why I am drawn to the sound of older instruments.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: outo] #2729318
04/16/18 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Medved1
Fascinating! For me, the older piano brings out the left hand more - makes it more tempting to focus on. The modern piano creates an equally compelling atmosphere, but so different - more of an overall effect, less of a perception of the individual lines in the music. Thank you so much for posting this.

I think the clarity of the lower register and the natural sustain in the upper registers is one of the reasons why I am drawn to the sound of older instruments.
It's my impression that all the older instruments(before around the mid 19th century) have less sustain than modern instruments.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: pianoloverus] #2729343
04/16/18 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Medved1
Fascinating! For me, the older piano brings out the left hand more - makes it more tempting to focus on. The modern piano creates an equally compelling atmosphere, but so different - more of an overall effect, less of a perception of the individual lines in the music. Thank you so much for posting this.

I think the clarity of the lower register and the natural sustain in the upper registers is one of the reasons why I am drawn to the sound of older instruments.
It's my impression that all the older instruments(before around the mid 19th century) have less sustain than modern instruments.


It's a different kind.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: outo] #2729364
04/16/18 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
] It's my impression that all the older instruments(before around the mid 19th century) have less sustain than modern instruments.
It's a different kind.
Different kind of sustain? What do you mean? IMO sustain is sustain.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729373
04/16/18 12:04 PM
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Of the fortepianos I've heard, I'd rather the sound not be sustained.


"I will hear in Heaven." Beethoven
Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: wr] #2729422
04/16/18 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by MikeN


Hmm, on this note I recently went and heard Boris Berezovsky play a couple weeks back. I remember I found him to be more of a circus act than an interesting and sensitive musician when I was a teenager listening to recordings of him. Strangely enough though, as I myself have advanced pianistically over the last decade, I’ve gained a certain respect and fascination and enjoyment for his approach. So, when he finally made his way to my part of the states, I had to go.



Yes, I've warmed up some to Berezovsky, too. Or maybe he's the one who warmed up?

Earlier in his career, he often seemed almost robotic to me, more concerned with displaying that dazzling technique of his than anything else. It wasn't very interesting, after a while. But in the last five years or so, I've noticed YouTube performances of his that seem much more focused on the music, and communicating it to the listener, and so are much more satisfying to me. He sometimes plays things other than the same old canonical core repertoire, such as Medtner - I appreciate when pianists do that. And he has done some jazz, which may have helped him to relax a bit and feel the music more than in the earlier part of his career.


Oh, good. I’m not the only one who seems to have sensed some growth there. That’s encouraging.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: pianoloverus] #2729425
04/16/18 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
] It's my impression that all the older instruments(before around the mid 19th century) have less sustain than modern instruments.
It's a different kind.
Different kind of sustain? What do you mean? IMO sustain is sustain.

I'd need a proper keyboard to explain...only have the phone now. Not the best word in English probably but could not think of another one. What I refer to is a singing tone.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: outo] #2729428
04/16/18 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
] It's my impression that all the older instruments(before around the mid 19th century) have less sustain than modern instruments.
It's a different kind.
Different kind of sustain? What do you mean? IMO sustain is sustain.

I'd need a proper keyboard to explain...only have the phone now. Not the best word in English probably but could not think of another one. What I refer to is a singing tone.
You have to explain what you mean by singing tone to make yourself clear. That phrase could mean different things to different people but sustain, in its normal use, would certainly be a big part of singng tone. Of course, it's not always easy to use words to describe tone,

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: pianoloverus] #2729463
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
What do you mean? IMO sustain is sustain.


Nigel would disagree with you.


Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: pianoloverus] #2729528
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
] It's my impression that all the older instruments(before around the mid 19th century) have less sustain than modern instruments.
It's a different kind.
Different kind of sustain? What do you mean? IMO sustain is sustain.

I'd need a proper keyboard to explain...only have the phone now. Not the best word in English probably but could not think of another one. What I refer to is a singing tone.
You have to explain what you mean by singing tone to make yourself clear. That phrase could mean different things to different people but sustain, in its normal use, would certainly be a big part of singng tone. Of course, it's not always easy to use words to describe tone,

Definitely! I used "natural sustain" to differentiate between the modern piano sustain, so it did not mean more sustain as in the modern piano. The singing tone I think comes from less percussion effect compared to most modern pianos. Also most modern pianos I have played do not have the kind of clarity that I like. They are designed to be capable of "orchestral" sound and volume. I personally value clarity more.

Then again, this does not apply to all music. I cannot imagine playing Scriabin on a fortepiano...so I'd need both smile

Last edited by outo; 04/17/18 12:22 AM.
Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729580
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These posts are actually kind of highlighting why I was saying originally in the thread that I personally didn't like Baroque music played on a piano. The fact that the older instruments, rather than being inferior, are actually capable of producing colours that the modern instruments are not, as well as the other way around.

I think perhaps the issue with the old instruments could be volume. Part of the reason the instruments were modernised, I'd wager, to deal with bigger venues etc.

This is much the same, again, with the upright bass vs the electric bass for retro rock and roll. Upright sounds more appropriate, electric is louder. Acoustically obviously the upright is louder, but the electric is a lot easier to amplify to loud volumes.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: Zaphod] #2729831
04/18/18 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Zaphod
These posts are actually kind of highlighting why I was saying originally in the thread that I personally didn't like Baroque music played on a piano. The fact that the older instruments, rather than being inferior, are actually capable of producing colours that the modern instruments are not, as well as the other way around.

I think perhaps the issue with the old instruments could be volume. Part of the reason the instruments were modernised, I'd wager, to deal with bigger venues etc.

This is much the same, again, with the upright bass vs the electric bass for retro rock and roll. Upright sounds more appropriate, electric is louder. Acoustically obviously the upright is louder, but the electric is a lot easier to amplify to loud volumes.


I think another major issue that drove the development of pianos and the materials used was plain old sturdiness. The early instruments were quite fragile and temperamental, and the design evolved in the direction of more reliability. Even as late as in Liszt's concert days, he liked to have a spare piano on hand for his concerts, because the instruments (especially the strings) were not up to the task of lasting through an entire concert.

It seem to me that later in the nineteenth century, there are no longer the kind of frequent reports of pianists destroying pianos that there had been earlier. Of course, strings and hammers still do break sometimes - I've had both happen more than once - but it's no longer like in Beethoven's day, when I think that was more or less expected at any moment.

In terms of my preferences, in a sort of idealistic way, I prefer music to be played on instruments the composer would have known and expected. But in reality, if the only way I can hear Edwin Fischer's wonderful Bach is on a recording that uses a modern piano, well, that's what it will have to be.

My own playing for my own pleasure is on a modern piano, because that's what I have, and even if I owned a whole museum's worth of old instruments, I'd probably still gravitate towards the piano simply because my technique, such as it is, is completely organized around that instrument. I might want to play Scarlatti on a harpsichord because I think that's the ideal way to play his music, but pragmatically, it isn't going to happen.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729839
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I think most pianists, if given a choice and not told which piano was modern and which was from the mid 19th century, would choose/prefer the sound of a modern piano. This MAY be because they're used to that sound but also may just be a tonal preference.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 04/18/18 10:32 AM.
Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729862
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I often question what IS the correct interpretation of a particular piece. I've attended many, many master classes and I always end up saying to myself "Is this how the composer really wanted a particular piece to be played?"

I dare to say that each pianist who posted on this message board has their own interpretation of music and therefore plays accordingly. It's what feels/sounds best to each one of us just like the various brands of pianos does in terms of key touch/feel and resulting sound. If you look at the original pieces of sheet music to me they were pretty basic so those who interpreted this music and then published it added their own preferences.

Concert pianists are performers and as such add their own feelings to any piece of music as well as showmanship. Commissioned works at piano competitions is all about interpretation by the contestanst. So the real question is what should a piece of music really sound like? And like everything else in life anything can be made better. Change is good.

Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: bennevis] #2729894
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Then there's the time-worn argument: "If Bach had had a (modern) piano he would have composed for one and would have played one." For most of us, however, it's simply a question of availability. How many of us have access to a harpsichord or clavichord? Because we don't, does that mean we should not play Baroque music on a modern piano?

Regards,


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Re: What bothers you most about celebrated pianists' playing? [Re: BruceD] #2729963
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Then there's the time-worn argument: "If Bach had had a (modern) piano he would have composed for one and would have played one." For most of us, however, it's simply a question of availability. How many of us have access to a harpsichord or clavichord? Because we don't, does that mean we should not play Baroque music on a modern piano?

Regards,

I prefer the harpsichord for the BB concertos, because of it's sonority relative to the rest of the orchestra, but for everything else I find the piano to be totally adequate.

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