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#401999 - 06/29/01 07:28 PM Program for a recital
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
What is usually a good program for a recital? I was thinking a Beethoven Sonata, A liszt Etude or Rhapsody, Some Chopin, then maybe a mozart sonata and a Russian piece (Rachmaninoff, Scriabin). What are you opinions? I don't like throwing stuff in just becauase its popular, like playing Chopin just becuase there is an unwritten rule that he must be played at every recital! but playing that which is mastered, the only problem is choosing what the audience would like.

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#402000 - 06/29/01 07:51 PM Re: Program for a recital
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
It just depends on what specific pieces you choise of those composers. In my book, you've already commited two no-no's - putting a Mozart and Beethoven sonata on the same program and putting Chopin and Liszt on the same program. The Chopin/Liszt you can get away with, but most people don't want to hear two large sonatas from the same time period.

Let's say that this is the repertoire that you pick:

Beethoven, Sonata in C op. 2 no. 3
Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody #12
Mozart, Sonata in B-flat, K 333
Chopin, Etude in f major op. 10 #8 and etude in a-flat major op. 25 #1
Rachmaninoff, assorted preludes

That will be a very long program - two huge sonatas, a 12 minute romantic piece, six minutes of etudes and eight to ten minutes of Rachmaninoff. There's also no baroque or no contemporary music. We can do without either, but to just play classical sonatas and romantic character pieces is kind of missing out on the wealth of repertoire that the baroque and contemporary time periods offer.

I would suggest a Bach French Suite, a Beethoven sonata, the Liszt you have been asking about recently (which, I guess, means that you're studying it), and maybe some American music to finish it off. It's all about balance and giving the listener a varied genre of styles and compositions.

Hope that helped.


#402001 - 06/29/01 10:44 PM Re: Program for a recital
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
Thanks for the suggestions, but why is it bad to put Liszt and Chopin on the same program? I think all one has to do is not choose any piece that is similar in character by those aforementioned composers (Since they were both romantic period composers), since Liszt has some pieces that are in deep contrast to Chopin, The sonata I fully agree with, one is enough and all I would program anyway! Thanks !

#402002 - 06/30/01 10:14 AM Re: Program for a recital
BruceD Online   content

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20227
Loc: Victoria, BC
Isn't it interesting that modern performance practices almost require that we program pieces from different eras for a "balanced" recital. More often than not, these recitals are programmed with the pieces played in their historically chronological order. Otherwise, performers have to very specifically state as a "title" to their program such things as "An All-Chopin Recital" or "The Beethoven Sonatas, Part I", etc.
I am all for breaking with the tradition and, if I have to, find a title that's going to somehow justify or explain to my audience the selections I have chosen. On the other hand, does music really need to be justified in this way?
I would say, rather, that you should be careful to give some sort of contrast, or some sort of progression - and not necessarily a chronological one - or aim to create a mood in your recital. I think it's also nothing short of the kiss of death to a fine performance if you program a work (or a period) because you feel you have to.
Play intelligently what you love to play, and play it well; I think your audience will go along with you.
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#402003 - 06/30/01 12:32 PM Re: Program for a recital
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
I agree with Bruce. The most important thing in programming a recital (unless, of course, it's a college recital with specific requirements to "pass") is to program what you play well. The audience will forgive an "unbalanced" program. What they won't forgive is bad playing. So, if you play Chopin and Lizst well (although I really don't understand why anyone would want to play any Liszt except the B minor sonata) - then good. If you play Mozart and Beethoven well - good, it's ok to schedule them. What I don't want to hear is bad Bach played just to balance a recital program. In any event, you should try to have a variety of types of pieces - some slow and lyrical, some fast with bravura. Plus, remember that audiences get tired in the second half. But that said, IMHO there is probably only one real rule and that is to end the recital as spectacularly as you can.

What we are seeing is that people are starting to do things that we would consider no-no's in recitals. A couple examples from two fairly well known pianists (although I can't remember their names off the top of my head, you would recognize the names if I could only remember them). One programmed only the slow movement from the Pathetique Sonata. And the other opened the first half of his program with the first four of Schumann's Kreisleriana and opened the second half with the remaining four. Very odd.

#402004 - 06/30/01 02:59 PM Re: Program for a recital
Brendan Offline

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5548
Loc: McAllen, TX
Just because someone plays Bach poorly doesn't mean that the idea of putting Bach or other baroque music in the program is bad; it's their own fault for not treating it with the respect that they give the heavier music in their program. Yes, go with your strong suit, but don't neglect whatever else you may play.

That is odd about the Schumann. I've never been able to stand that piece personally, so I guess that it would be easier to digest for me in two servings than one disgusting heap...

I still think that if you're going to do two sonatas, it should be one classical and one romantic (that's my next program - op. 110 and Liszt), or a classical and a contemporary. I don't think that I could listen to Mozart and Beethoven sonatas back to back.

What about Messiaen? What do you guys think of his music?

#402005 - 06/30/01 04:38 PM Re: Program for a recital
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx

I don't think I'm saying that someone shouldn't give Bach respect. What I am saying is that for pretty much everyone they have styles they play well and styles they play not so well. Therefore, if you aren't a professional pianist who gives lots of recitals or a student with recital requirements, you should play what you play well. I play Mozart terribly. Always have - still do. No matter how much time and respect I give it, it's lacking. Now, I hoped as I get older I'll actually get better playing it but it doesn't seem to be happening. Though I do play through a few of the sonatas occasionally, I would never program Mozart for a recital and my audience (assuming anyone would actually show up) would thank me for that. Personnally, I play Beethoven through romantic well and contemporary piano music well (in college I was always told that this was my strongpoint). Therefore that's what I would program.

Two other points about programming recitals that I forgot previously. First choose pieces that you can actually play technically without hurting yourself. I've noted that I have a hard time getting through the black key etude without feeling like my arm is falling off. I should never program this piece since I will need to practice it so much that my arm would fall off and it could effect the other pieces.

Second, play pieces you like. At our level, we are going to live with these pieces for a long long time. We'd better like them. And, the advantage of being a pianist is that there is so much repertoire. I am at the age and non-musician profession that I only play pieces I like. Life's too short to learn other stuff (Cork would agree with this statement).

Now, on to Messian. I love Messian. One of my most incredible concert performances was hearing his Quarted for the end of time (or something like that). I was in such a trance that I thought the whole thing lasted about 10 minutes. I was shocked to see it was around 50 minutes. Time absolutely stood still.

His piano music is great but difficult. I love the 20 portraits of the infant Jesus. Wonderful. Messian's piano music is seeming to be having a renaissance if you will. Like Ginastera, it seems to be in vogue now to play Messian. Which is a good thing -- for both, 2 of my favorites.


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