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Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
#2878664 08/11/19 08:13 PM
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For anyone who can watch BBC Four, this has just started. It's on available via satellite.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2878675 08/11/19 09:11 PM
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It's amazing who the BBC managed to get to agree to be filmed live - Moiseiwitsch, Horowitz, and not least Richter (even if only lit by a tiny light which apparently cause the producer lots of problems): twice in Freddy's Op.10/4, separated by over two decades. Fast & furious in his old age, even faster & more furious when a younger lion......

The presenter David Owen Norris (no mean pianist himself) says that Arrau got his famous tone (in Beethoven) by 'pressing the keys down slowly' - even in fast notes. grin


"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: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
bennevis #2878679 08/11/19 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
The presenter David Owen Norris (no mean pianist himself) says that Arrau got his famous tone (in Beethoven) by 'pressing the keys down slowly' - even in fast notes. grin


I noticed that...

The interview with Rubenstein was interesting. He said he never played pieces through, so the mystery would still be there when he went on stage. No wonder he had such stage fright...

You left out the bit about the time a studio was booked, but Richter spent the time in bed smoking. Eventually he just turned up, played his programme and disappeared.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2878682 08/11/19 09:22 PM
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It's a pity it's not possible to watch BBC Player outside the UK. There are always so many programmes I want to watch but I can't.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2878736 08/12/19 01:34 AM
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I don’t even have a TV, but this sounds like something I’d love to watch!


Sibylle


"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
Sibylle #2878737 08/12/19 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Sibylle
I don’t even have a TV, but this sounds like something I’d love to watch!


Maybe if you use a VPN you can fool the BBC website into believing you're in the UK. I think it works for some people. I'd love to watch it again!

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2879000 08/12/19 08:42 PM
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I have a VPN and set it for the UK and got to their site. They then asked me to register and I had to find a zip code for the U.K. which wasn’t hard as I looked up a piano store in England and used theirs. Zip codes in England are quite different than in the US and I was afraid I typed the wrong thing but it was fine. Now I got excited because I thought I would be watching the program shortly and then the next page required a TV license saying it was the law and when I clicked that they wanted £154.50. ☹️ So close yet so far.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2879029 08/12/19 11:33 PM
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Quote

The interview with Rubenstein was interesting. He said he never played pieces through, so the mystery would still be there when he went on stage. No wonder he had such stage fright...

It’s been a good while since I read Rubinstein’s 2-volume autobiography, but my recollection is the polar opposite of him having stage anxiety. He talked of feeding off the energy of the crowd and loving being the center of attention of a full house.


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.
Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
Sweelinck #2879036 08/13/19 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote

The interview with Rubenstein was interesting. He said he never played pieces through, so the mystery would still be there when he went on stage. No wonder he had such stage fright...

It’s been a good while since I read Rubinstein’s 2-volume autobiography, but my recollection is the polar opposite of him having stage anxiety. He talked of feeding off the energy of the crowd and loving being the center of attention of a full house.


When he was playing he'd come alive, but the hours leading up to that could be very difficult. His wife said that in the car on the way to the concert hall, he'd often decide that the imminent performance would be his last, and that he intended to cancel all of his subsequent engagements.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
bennevis #2879538 08/14/19 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

The presenter David Owen Norris (no mean pianist himself) says that Arrau got his famous tone (in Beethoven) by 'pressing the keys down slowly' - even in fast notes. grin


Yes, I found that utterly bewildering, not least as David Owen Norris has been involved in a scientific project in Southampton investigating pianist and how they play.

I had the good fortune to hear Claudio Arrau live several times and it is absolutely true that he created a phenomenal sound. I heard the Schumann Etudes Symphoniques from the front row, and later as a student, I saw him hold the audience of the Royal Festival Hall in the palm of his hand playing the Liszt sonata. But no one seriously imagines that he is making the piano vibrate differently by pushing the fast notes down slowly! It is pseudo science of the most idiotic kind. The beauty of Arrau's sound (and that of Richter, or even Benjamin Grosvenor who I saw live last weekend) is due to the exquisite and personal voicing in all registers. Grosvenor truly makes the piano sing, but he was doing the same as a 10 year old, but then as now, he plays the melody note with tremendous boldness that the other voices support. It has nothing directly to do with how the notes are pushed down (and as we know, a piano hammer creates gradation of volume, nothing else).

In the end, I'm guessing David Owen Norris must be alluding to something else but unclear to me what!

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2879898 08/15/19 01:18 PM
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Actually, in my experience, how fast or slow one strikes a note makes a huge difference in the quality of sound.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2879935 08/15/19 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by Sibylle
I don’t even have a TV, but this sounds like something I’d love to watch!


Maybe if you use a VPN you can fool the BBC website into believing you're in the UK. I think it works for some people. I'd love to watch it again!


Yes, having recently returned from China, where a VPN is necessary simply to access google, I am now a big fan of them.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
MikeN #2879949 08/15/19 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeN
Actually, in my experience, how fast or slow one strikes a note makes a huge difference in the quality of sound.


Yes, it is called louder or softer! There is no other parameter with a single note.

Of course, when playing multiple notes, louder and softer does define voicing, which is largely what determines a pianist sound.

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
Hatchestron #2879967 08/15/19 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Hatchestron
Originally Posted by MikeN
Actually, in my experience, how fast or slow one strikes a note makes a huge difference in the quality of sound.


Yes, it is called louder or softer! There is no other parameter with a single note.

Of course, when playing multiple notes, louder and softer does define voicing, which is largely what determines a pianist sound.


You can have a loud harsh tone like you might want in Bartok or you can have a loud rich/warm tone like you might prefer in Chopin and in my experience how fast the key hits bottom makes the difference. Feel free to disagree. *shurg*

Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2880067 08/16/19 03:50 AM
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Mike, if that was true, you would have discovered a new law of physics and the Nobel Prize awaits! Once launched, the only "information" the hammer is carrying is momentum. You are implying that somehow the hammer is imbued momentum plus something else, that creates different tones. This is not possible.

I do think I know what you mean though. Bartók demands a different articulation to Chopin very often, and one way to achieve this is through the way we use our fingers on the key to influence their release. But that is how we control the duration of the note, not the quality of vibration of the actual hammer strike.

Incidentally, I once recorded myself playing staccato and when I looked at the wave forms, discovered that a staccato with a Piano dynamic, is actually a much louder strike than if I held the equivalent note. But the brevity of the sound (the articulation) fools the ear into thinking it is Piano when actually it is playing something close to Forte.

Last edited by Hatchestron; 08/16/19 03:51 AM.
Re: Perfect Pianists at the BBC.
johnstaf #2881093 08/18/19 06:54 PM
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I'm not implying something unscientific. I'm saying that one gets a warmer sound if the hammer strikes at a slightly slower velocity as a result of a slightly slower keyfall than if you just drop the key straight down to the bottom which would cause the hammer to hit at a comparatively faster velocity. It's less sound, but it can still sound like forte or fortissimo in context vs the latter instance. I'm also suggesting there's a point where the sound of a piano starts to distort and the minute change in velocity avoids it...I think. Not a scientist here.

You do realize that the faster fall of hammer created by the strike from a distance and the likely faster momentum of your hand during staccato playing would by default create a bigger sound, yes? What is "piano" anyways? Dynamics are entirely relative, which I'm sure you know.

Last edited by MikeN; 08/18/19 07:01 PM.

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