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Chopin Preludes #573410
03/24/04 04:40 PM
03/24/04 04:40 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,067
New York City
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While listening to my new recording of Fiorentino playing these pieces this morning, I began thinking about the fact that today, I believe, the Preludes are virtually always played in their entirety but much earlier in 20th century it was(I believe) quite common to play only a selection in a recital. Any reason other than fashion for this? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember reading somewhere that Chopin did not intend them to be played as an entire set.

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Re: Chopin Preludes #573411
03/24/04 04:55 PM
03/24/04 04:55 PM
Joined: Nov 2003
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Boston
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I noticed this not just in case of the Preludes but also many other works that come as sets. The tendency in more recent years to play or record complete works of a certain type or of a specific composer. There are always new tendencies and trends in music, so I suppose this is one of them.

Re: Chopin Preludes #573412
03/24/04 05:06 PM
03/24/04 05:06 PM
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Chicago
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I generally like what I've heard of Fiorentino. I particularly liked his Bach.

As to playing things as sets, I don't know that it always works -- seems OK with the etudes - not quite as sure that I want to hear the Ballades as a set -- the Preludes seem a bit much.

Ken

Re: Chopin Preludes #573413
03/24/04 05:35 PM
03/24/04 05:35 PM
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England
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If you ask me this is, in all fairness, a small demonstration of the way musical scholarship has gained ground over musicians' outlets for their individuality. I think that golden-age pianists often arranged the pieces as they understood them (granted, some took many more liberties than that, but not all) because it didn't make sense to them to play all 24 in a row. Perhaps it made sense to Chopin, perhaps it didn't, but you have to come to terms with the pieces for yourself, in the end. I liked the way Dinu Lipatti came up with his own idiosyncratic ordering of the Chopin and Brahms Waltzes, for instance. With the Brahms, I don't think he wanted to play the B major waltz as an introduction, and when it shows up half-way through, it (rightly) doesn't sound like one.

I think it's the notion that the Preludes are somehow 'incomplete' unless you've got all 24 there that's led to them to be played and recorded in this way. To me, it's symptomatic of a phenomenon I don't like. For instance, pianists now tend to use the composer's cadenzas instead of making up their own or even using somebody else's - and as for improvising one, ha! - I've heard it done once on a radio concert, and even then everyone was remarking on how unusual the pianist's venture was.

Well, perhaps I've taken it a bit too far, but when we say it's scholarship, and the slightest bit of creativity starts to suffer because of it, I know which side I'm on.

Peter

Re: Chopin Preludes #573414
03/24/04 05:44 PM
03/24/04 05:44 PM
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There's nothing stopping performers from picking out a selection of preludes, they must actually want to perform them as a set.

Also, I don't know if improvised cadenzas are all that good. I wouldn't really want to hear some load of junk in the middle of Beethoven No.4 or something; it would spoil it a tad.

Re: Chopin Preludes #573415
03/24/04 06:16 PM
03/24/04 06:16 PM
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Iowa City, IA
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It's just an (annoying) trend in recent history. Personally, I'm sick of people playing complete this and complete that.

And it's not just short sets, either. You have people doing complete Beethoven sonatas, complete works of Chopin, etc...

I think it's a good thing to do as a pianist - learning complete sets can be very interesting and enlightening, but I don't particularly like hearing it all in concert.


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Re: Chopin Preludes #573416
03/25/04 07:08 PM
03/25/04 07:08 PM
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Australia
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Australia
To me, playing all of the Beethoven Sonatas in a season is the height of arrogance. It took Beethoven all his life to write his sonatas.
They are not a "cycle", they are the blood, sweat and tears of a great musician's struggle.

I agree that the Preludes are just that, and when I used to perform I liked to combine a couple with a bigger work, chosen to complement each other. Isn't this why he gave us one in each key?

The Debussy and Scriabin Preludes also work well played this way.

As for improvised cadenzas- be game. You can always go home and hear the composer's original cadenza on recording, but why not support players who want to give us the freshness and immediacy of their own. I must admit, though, that I would want to hear a student's cadenza worked out in advance and learned, rather than improvised onstage.

Re: Chopin Preludes #573417
03/25/04 08:50 PM
03/25/04 08:50 PM
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Cleveland, Ohio
Hank Drake Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
It's just an (annoying) trend in recent history. Personally, I'm sick of people playing complete this and complete that.
...

I don't particularly like hearing it all in concert.
Agreed. The complete edition approach has really gone off the deep end since the advent of the long playing record. Rubinstein and Schnabel were the first to do this with Chopin and Beethoven, respectively. But they were both pioneers--and now their blazed trails are a superhighway.

In Rubinstein's case, I doubt many of music lovers played his complete 78RPM set of Mazurkas, say, all at once. Rubinstein would never have dreamed of playing them all in a single concert--or even in a series of concerts (in fact, he never played several of the Nocturnes and numerous Mazurkas in public during his 75+ year career).

Pulling off the complete Preludes in concert is a bit easier digestable for the audience, and I've heard it done well--by Vasily Primakov. But I doubt Chopin ever imagined pianists would program a concert so pedantically and play "editions" in the concert hall.


Hank Drake

The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
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Re: Chopin Preludes #573418
03/25/04 09:10 PM
03/25/04 09:10 PM
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Isn't a prelude supposed to be...a PRELUDE? If you're playing two in a row, aren't you playing a prelude to a prelude?

Seems weird to me.

I always assumed recording artists put similar items one after the other because it made it easier to find them when rooting through your LP's.

Re: Chopin Preludes #573419
03/25/04 10:13 PM
03/25/04 10:13 PM
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Johns Hopkins University
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Chopin's Preludes weren't preludes in the usual sense. They aren't meant to be played as introductions or "preludes" to other pieces. They are stand-alone pieces.

Re: Chopin Preludes #573420
03/26/04 04:42 AM
03/26/04 04:42 AM
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Seattle, Washington, USA
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I think that some people play them as a whole set while others just play selections for their recitals. I would personally want to attend one where only a few selections were to be played, unless I was really in the mood to here all of them since they would most likely take up at least half of the entire recital to get through all of them.


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Re: Chopin Preludes #573421
03/26/04 06:24 AM
03/26/04 06:24 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,668
Victoria, BC
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Quote
Originally posted by jgoo:
I think that some people play them as a whole set while others just play selections for their recitals. I would personally want to attend one where only a few selections were to be played, unless I was really in the mood to here all of them since they would most likely take up at least half of the entire recital to get through all of them.
jgoo:

I can understand that one might either like or might not like to hear all the Preludes on one recital; it's a matter of taste and/or interest. I don't understand your observation that it would take half of the entire recital to get through all of the Chopin Preludes. If one goes to a recital to hear the music that is programmed, doesn't it take half of the recital to get through half of the program? You make it sound as though sitting through half of a recital program is an ordeal rather than a pleasure. Maybe it's just a question of taste, but I don't find sitting through 30 minutes or so of Chopin (Preludes, or anything else that he wrote) that much torture. A couple of Haydn or Mozart sonatas would take just as much time, if that's the issue.

As for the Preludes, I find that the variety in them is remarkable, and one good test of a pianist is his/her ability to respond to that variety in a consistently convincing manner.

Regards,


BruceD
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