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“We have to take it as it is, forgiving Rubinstein for being modern, and forgiving Cho for being accurate.“ Composer’s instructions are frequently ignored. Personally, I am not miffed, but others prefer strict adherence! A matter of taste, merely? Or an egregious violation of the score?

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Originally Posted by Numerian
Paderewski wrote a most excellent piano concerto in a minor. The middle movement is lovely. It used to be quite popular and deserves to be brought back.
Paderewski's concerto is regularly performed in Poland. As is some of his solo piano music.

Here, across the pond, we regularly get radio broadcasts of concerts from the 'Chopin and His Europe Festival' in Warsaw and the International Chopin Festival in the lovely spa town of Duszniki-Zdrój. (Chopin's connection with Duszniki-Zdrój is that he was once cured there wink and subsequently gave concerts there too.) Rarely a year passes when I don't hear a broadcast of Paderewski's concerto, often played by well-known non-Polish concert pianists.

There are other Polish piano concertos too, of course. Poland's second greatest composer wrote a Symphonie Concertante for piano & orchestra, but it's not suitable for a piano competition because (like Bernstein's The Age of Anxiety) it's more symphony than concerto. And let's not forget Maria Szymanowska and Grażyna Bacewicz, both of whom wrote lots of fine piano music (but no piano concertos).

As for the Chopin Competition being a one-composer affair, let's not forget that there are other one-composer piano competitions - including of composers who never composed for piano smirk (......like JSB). You wouldn't expect pianists in the Beethoven Competition (Vienna) to play anything but Ludwig van B. (BTW, Uchida once won that competition, as well as 2nd in Chopin the following year.)

The Tchaikovsky Competition is almost uniquely eclectic in this regard.


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We all performs music based on unwritten performance practice standards, those are based on what we believe is the proper way of playing the music is, which can vary from one generation to another. Chopin was making a lot of changes to his scores, which many in fact originates from improvisation sessions. That is why for some pieces we have so many different editions and variants. The general idea that the printed score is the one final and unique possible version is somehow naive. And we all know composers actually even play their own pieces differently than written. That is not an excuse for starting to change the score but on other hand, there must be also a certain flexibility in the interpretation as long as it is justified by a consistent artistic vision and not making changes for the sake of it.

If we believe that the pupil's pupil do play Chopin with a more or less direct connection with the composer intentions, then they use just as much rubato, ritard, added dynamics than most modern pianists, and sometimes more. For example Rosenthal (Mikuli) or Cortot (Decombes/Mathias).

All in all Rubinstein is actually fairly conservative in this area, no mannerism and he uses in fact no more rubato and sometimes less than Cho (listen his nocturne opus 9/2). But he does have a lot of abilities for micro articulation and phrasing. I dont think there is a unique way of phrasing a given passage but some works better than others. Cho has his way of phrasing which is different from Rubinstein. That is good that we have different musical options to choose from.


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Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
“We have to take it as it is, forgiving Rubinstein for being modern, and forgiving Cho for being accurate.“ Composer’s instructions are frequently ignored. Personally, I am not miffed, but others prefer strict adherence! A matter of taste, merely? Or an egregious violation of the score?

Chopin was one of the first composers to insist on fidelity to the score - to his scores, at least. Which was quite an innovation, because pianists of his day were expected to improvise when performing. The cadenza, for example, was intended to showcase the performers technical and improvisational skills. Chopin won the argument. Improvisation died out and fidelity to the score won out. Cadenzas began to be written out, and few artists today have the ability to improvise a candenza.

But as you say, the score is "frequently ignored" by performers today. That's because any alterations they want to make must by definition be in good taste, and therefore an improvement on what the composer was intending.


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The type of changes that modern performers are making today are marginal compared to what was the usual practice early 19th century. There is a difference between changing dynamics or articulation and changing the score by improvising a different music than what is written. The fidelity to the score is something that develops more in the second half of the century. In fact Chopin is known to make frequent changes to his score when playing or when teaching. There are numerous changes notated by him on printed editions, not speaking of all the variants that exists which proves that he did not consider the printed version to be necessarily the final or unique possibility.

It is true that he made less structural changes during his concerts, but more oriented toward interpretative nuances or improvisatory ornamentation, which is what modern pianists also do.

A few testimonies:

Mikuli about Chopin playing Field: "Chopin took particular pleasure in playing Field’s Nocturnes, to which he would improvise the most beautiful fiorituras"

or Hallé about Chopin playing in 1848 the Barcarolle op. 60 at his Paris concert, where instead of increasing the dynamics to reach the climax in the last pages, he played the final return of the opening theme pianissimo, thus ignoring the markings in the text.

Liszt himself about Chopin’s reaction when he played the Polonaise op. 40 no. 1: "After the D major trio section, I play the return of the first theme [bars 65ff] softly, and then loud again in the following section [bars 73ff]. Chopin did not particularly observe this nuance himself, but he liked it when I did so: in fact he was thoroughly satisfied."

With his pupils, Chopin is known to regularly introduce ornamental and other variants in the pieces. There is about 15 different version of Opus 9/2 annotated by Chopin. There are also evidence that Chopin modified tempo and dynamic markings, either adding or even changing what was in the original version.

There are also numerous testimonies of pianists playing Chopin pieces with a different style and articulation and which Chopin quite liked and accepted. All of this is very far from the rigid conservatisms and sometimes dogmatic point of view of some teachers, especially for changes that are in fact sometimes totally marginal.

All to say that Chopin was not rigid at all about the stylistic interpretation of his works. He said to his pupil Filtsch : ‘We each understand this
differently, but go your own way, do as you feel, it can also be played like that.".

That said it does not mean that one should make changes just based on his own fancy. It must have musical justification with people that have a solid musical background and musical taste.


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Originally Posted by Numerian
Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
“We have to take it as it is, forgiving Rubinstein for being modern, and forgiving Cho for being accurate.“ Composer’s instructions are frequently ignored. Personally, I am not miffed, but others prefer strict adherence! A matter of taste, merely? Or an egregious violation of the score?

Chopin was one of the first composers to insist on fidelity to the score - to his scores, at least. Which was quite an innovation, because pianists of his day were expected to improvise when performing. The cadenza, for example, was intended to showcase the performers technical and improvisational skills. Chopin won the argument. Improvisation died out and fidelity to the score won out. Cadenzas began to be written out, and few artists today have the ability to improvise a candenza.

But as you say, the score is "frequently ignored" by performers today. That's because any alterations they want to make must by definition be in good taste, and therefore an improvement on what the composer was intending.

I have my own biases, in fact, prejudices I'd call them where music is concerned. I'm embarrassed by how "old-fashioned" I am. But I have NO justification for my prejudices analytically or philosophically. Judgement, evaluation, interpretation in music (and in ALL art, as far as I can tell) is ultimately subjective.

This is ironic: artistic (as distinguished from "aesthetic") beliefs tend to be VERY STRONGLY HELD, while being completely lacking in any kind of "objectivity" in the empirical sense of that word! Beliefs such as "Bach's SMP is a masterpiece" SEEM (to those like me who hold beliefs like these) to be as "objectively true" as the belief that H20 (water) boils at 100c under standard atmospheric pressure!!

But ARE such beliefs (often strong held) "objectively true"? I don't think so. At least, I can't find any good reasons to believe they are.

At the same time, that doesn't mean we can give REASONS for our strongly held artistic beliefs.

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Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
Originally Posted by Numerian
Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
“We have to take it as it is, forgiving Rubinstein for being modern, and forgiving Cho for being accurate.“ Composer’s instructions are frequently ignored. Personally, I am not miffed, but others prefer strict adherence! A matter of taste, merely? Or an egregious violation of the score?

Chopin was one of the first composers to insist on fidelity to the score - to his scores, at least. Which was quite an innovation, because pianists of his day were expected to improvise when performing. The cadenza, for example, was intended to showcase the performers technical and improvisational skills. Chopin won the argument. Improvisation died out and fidelity to the score won out. Cadenzas began to be written out, and few artists today have the ability to improvise a candenza.

But as you say, the score is "frequently ignored" by performers today. That's because any alterations they want to make must by definition be in good taste, and therefore an improvement on what the composer was intending.

I have my own biases, in fact, prejudices I'd call them where music is concerned. I'm embarrassed by how "old-fashioned" I am. But I have NO justification for my prejudices analytically or philosophically. Judgement, evaluation, interpretation in music (and in ALL art, as far as I can tell) is ultimately subjective.

This is ironic: artistic (as distinguished from "aesthetic") beliefs tend to be VERY STRONGLY HELD, while being completely lacking in any kind of "objectivity" in the empirical sense of that word! Beliefs such as "Bach's SMP is a masterpiece" SEEM (to those like me who hold beliefs like these) to be as "objectively true" as the belief that H20 (water) boils at 100c under standard atmospheric pressure!!

But ARE such beliefs (often strong held) "objectively true"? I don't think so. At least, I can't find any good reasons to believe they are.

At the same time, that doesn't mean we can give REASONS for our strongly held artistic beliefs.

Correction:

At the same time, that doesn't mean we CAN"T give REASONS for our strongly held artistic beliefs!!!

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Originally Posted by Numerian
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Ubu
But hearing the same concert again and again... The man only wrote 2, sadly, so i think they should allow certain repertoire from other composers
Schumann or Liszt perhaps? ha Well, there's always Paderewski. smile
Paderewski wrote a most excellent piano concerto in a minor. The middle movement is lovely. It used to be quite popular and deserves to be brought back.
That's specifically why I mentioned Paderewski. smile

Last edited by Carey; 10/23/21 12:48 PM.

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Trip down memory lane. The E Minor recording I grew up with. (That's how OLD I am!)


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Wow have you ever heard a better rendition of Op. 42?


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For comparison's sake, here's Liu's op. 42 but on a Steinway, 2016 Competition:



More rubato and "pizzazz" in the Fazioli account, above, that's for sure: the Fazioli 2021 starts at about 3:09:10, I think?

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What the heck, here's another powerhouse of "technique," as it were: Kocsis playing op. 42 (2011)



I prefer Liu.... More nuanced, for sure.

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I don’t see any US city for the winner’s world tour schedule.

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Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
For comparison's sake, here's Liu's op. 42 but on a Steinway, 2016 Competition:



More rubato and "pizzazz" in the Fazioli account, above, that's for sure: the Fazioli 2021 starts at about 3:09:10, I think?

Unless I am mistaken this is Eric Lu playing not Bruce Liu. Are you just comparing the different piano sound ?


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Originally Posted by newport
Wow have you ever heard a better rendition of Op. 42?


There is no best rendition. There are hundreds of versions out there. I personally prefer the more brilliant version of Bozhanov with more character. Or the excellent version of Tharaud, less virtuoso but with more elegance and articulation and well constructed.





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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by johnlewisgrant
For comparison's sake, here's Liu's op. 42 but on a Steinway, 2016 Competition:



More rubato and "pizzazz" in the Fazioli account, above, that's for sure: the Fazioli 2021 starts at about 3:09:10, I think?

Unless I am mistaken this is Eric Lu playing not Bruce Liu. Are you just comparing the different piano sound ?

Indeed! Thanks for the correction!

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Maybe I (and others) weren’t entirely alone in thinking Liu quite extraordinarily talented.

Is he destined to become a superstar?

“Bruce Liu - an exceptional artist"
Referring to the first place taken by Bruce Liu, prof. Dyżewski made it clear that there was no doubt about this verdict:
"The scale of this phenomenon, which is Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu , is simply unique. I believe that he is an artist rising above the first prize winners of the last few editions of this competition. It is always the case that an artist raised to a pedestal by the Chopin Competition is the brand of this competition. Just as his fame and reputation in the world are evidenced by such names as Maurizio Pollini , Martha Argerich , Krystian Zimerman , now undoubtedly - and I wish this to this artist - also Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu will join these great." said prof. Marek Dyżewski (I hope google translate is correct; please let me know if the translation here is not correct - thanks)

I tend to agree.

Last edited by johnlewisgrant; 10/26/21 08:28 PM.
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I was on concerto of Eva Gevorgian and Bruce Liu in best concert hall in Europe - NOSPR in Katowice.

Eva played first solo - Fantasy, Mazurkas and b-minor Sonata. Break. Bruce with e-minor concerto.

Fantasy and Sonata were absolutely thrilling and I can remember almost every note of her performance. It was absolutely impressive to listen it. Mazurkas were not so good. Nothing to add more. Purely hypnotizing performance. She played on a Steinway.

Bruce Liu. First and second part of concerto - nothing to write about. As ordinary as 50 other pianists would have played it. in Youtube recording piano is moved far forward vs what was actually heard in the concert hall. Piano was often blended with orchestra and too much covered (or he was playing too low). The only thing that I remember was 2nd half of Rondo and this was really interesting to listen. A lot of idea, but really I would be really mad for not hearing Eva and I lost nothing if I would not attend Liu's performance.
He rehabilitated himself in Mazurka 33/4 which he played as an encore and this was heavenly good and clearly showing why he won, but concerto could have been played by 50 other pianists and I would have the same memoirs.

I do not know whether he was already too tired with playing this concerto day after day and the whole competition, or comparison of brillante concerto vs so full Sonata did it, but again nothing special.

Eva's performace was (almost) equally good - absolutely stunning. Bruce - very mixed and failed vs expectations.
Interestingly, audience started to clap bravos still when the orchestra was playing their final notes and it was immediate standing ovation, which I believe was more due to gold medal than actual performance.
Eva had to wait a lot of time for audience to stand, but she deserved it really from her final chords, while Liu shouldn't get standing ovation.

Last edited by maucycy; 10/28/21 06:30 AM.
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Hello. Did the jury ever release the raw results as in the 2015 competition?

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Originally Posted by Chop Chop
Hello. Did the jury ever release the raw results as in the 2015 competition?

Yes, they will, but dunno when

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