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Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
#2954511 03/05/20 03:46 PM
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Article: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity: Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov have different artistic personalities. But they’re similar in how they recently took audiences on unusual musical journeys.


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Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Tyrone Slothrop #2954525 03/05/20 04:21 PM
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Do you have a link without a paywall?

Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Tyrone Slothrop #2954530 03/05/20 04:44 PM
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Thanks for sharing the article.
I was lucky enough to hear both recitals last month in SoCal. And both were a marvelous experience. A contrast of styles, performance and content.
Tommasini failed to mention that Daniil did his own completion of Bach's unfinished "Art of Fugue". Instead of ending abruptly in the air (as Angela Hewitt does in her recording), Trifinov ends in his own coda of Baroque counterpoint, triumphantly in D major.
One small thing that both Yuja and Daniil did was to segue directly into pieces. Trifonov ended the Chaconne in block chords, before they completely died out he began the theme of the Art of Fugue. Likewise Yuja linked some of the Chopin Mazurkas and Brahms Intermezzi together. I found it to be very effective. At this point it did not matter to me which piece was what, but just to enjoy the music as what Yuja intended for the audience to do.


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Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Tyrone Slothrop #2954692 03/06/20 05:35 AM
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What seems always strange to me is the focus of some commentators on the technical abilities of pianists (or other musicians), as if it is a criteria. I actually never considered it, the only important thing being the musical result. The fact that some pianists can play certain pieces at a light speed is good for them or as a fun exercice but is of complete non interest to me if the end goal is just to demonstrate how skillful they are.

I am probably of an old school, but when I listen to music i do not wonder if the musician is a virtuoso or not. I just listen to the artist.

Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Sidokar #2954809 03/06/20 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
What seems always strange to me is the focus of some commentators on the technical abilities of pianists (or other musicians), as if it is a criteria. I actually never considered it, the only important thing being the musical result. The fact that some pianists can play certain pieces at a light speed is good for them or as a fun exercice but is of complete non interest to me if the end goal is just to demonstrate how skillful they are.

I am probably of an old school, but when I listen to music i do not wonder if the musician is a virtuoso or not. I just listen to the artist.
I think some/many pieces by their nature require great technical ability so that technique becomes one important consideration when evaluating pianists. Without a terrific technique many pieces cannot be played well no matter how great the pianist's other musical skills are.

Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Tyrone Slothrop #2955056 03/07/20 07:35 AM
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And, as usual, Ms. Wang did not announce her encores, which included a crackling account of Prokofiev’s driving Toccata in D minor.....

For encores, he played charming, buoyant and playful works by three of Bach’s sons: Johann Christian, Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel. True to form, he did not announce what the pieces were, leaving the audience to just listen.

I bet, however, that people in the audience would have loved to know what they were hearing.

I am one of those audience members who wants to know what I'm hearing, and I'm grateful when a pianist announces their encore. When the performer does not announce the encore and I don't recognize it (I would have recognized Prokofiev's Toccata), I usually send an email to someone in the sponsoring organization. Staff members of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the Philadelphia Orchestra have graciously answered my inquiries and satisfied my curiosity--but I'd rather know the answer at the time of the concert.

Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Sidokar #2955061 03/07/20 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
What seems always strange to me is the focus of some commentators on the technical abilities of pianists (or other musicians), as if it is a criteria. I actually never considered it, the only important thing being the musical result. The fact that some pianists can play certain pieces at a light speed is good for them or as a fun exercice but is of complete non interest to me if the end goal is just to demonstrate how skillful they are.

I am probably of an old school, but when I listen to music i do not wonder if the musician is a virtuoso or not. I just listen to the artist.


To me, if you’re one of the handful of touring concert pianists in the world, technical ability is part of the job description and assumed.

Are there really any big name touring pianists whom we would not classify as virtuoso performers?

Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
boo1234 #2955095 03/07/20 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by boo1234


To me, if you’re one of the handful of touring concert pianists in the world, technical ability is part of the job description and assumed.

Are there really any big name touring pianists whom we would not classify as virtuoso performers?


Precisely. Hence I do not see what is the point of these comments. There are many activities where an outstanding technique is a must. One can not be a top level tennis player or golfer or football player or .... without the proper technical skills.

But unlike some other activities, in music having the technique is not enough. More inportant are the interpretative skills and artistic sense. It is the ability of bringing forward the deep content of a piece into a consistent view that makes the difference between an excellent pianist and an artist (granted they are roughly equal in technique).

In the most virtuoso pieces of Listz, Claudio Arrau always managed to develop the musical side of it. I have never listened to him thinking how technically good he was but just how great an artist he was.

I think the You Tube, as usefull as it can be, has also developed an hyper focus on the image. When I was younger, I attended to concert pretty far back in the room and could not see the pianist well. Most of my listening, when I was not playing piano, was on the radio, LPs and CDs. So I just focused on the music and not on the hands of the pianist or whether he/she was wearing sun glasses or what kind of clothes. And so even today I really do not care if Yuja Wang can play Bumblebee faster or not than anybody else (though it is fun to watch).

Re: Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity
Tyrone Slothrop #2955112 03/07/20 11:12 AM
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In quite a lot of music composed not just by virtuoso pianist-composers like Liszt, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Prokofiev and Bartók, but also composers with mediocre piano-playing abilities like Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Barber, the virtuosic aspect of some of their piano music is a big raison d'être, even if it was not composed for themselves or a specific virtuoso to play.

If the performer doesn't have the chops to convey this important aspect of the pieces, there's no point in him performing such music (and many don't - and a few even openly profess to despise it. Sour grapes: I name no names, of course whistle). The audience expect to hear - and see - vertiginous feats of virtuosity.

And I'm not even talking about the virtuosic transcriptions and derangements by Liszt, Godowsky, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Cziffra, Ginzburg et al.


"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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