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This is a recording, done with a small handheld Tascam digital recorder of an 1844 Pleyel I restored years ago, which belonged to me for a while.

The reason I am posting this is because of the sound, which most of you will think is quite odd, and not quite pianistic, but more like a Piano Shaped Object.

The sound is the way it is because the hammers are covered with the 1840's grey felt which was applied on the piano when it was new, and the felt wore out after a couple of years use, so it is extremely rare. I have plenty of documentation that proves that this veiled, dark sound is actually the sound that Chopin heard, so if anyone is interested, I can send you a PDF with all the information.

The tempo is 50 BPM for each dotted quarter note, which is the tempo indicated by Chopin. This makes it so that the left hand plays groups of 6 notes every BPM!

I am quite sure most of you out there would not like to play on this kind of piano, because of the muffled sound, but I have collected proof that this dark sound was what was in fashion from at least 1830 to 1850! Strange indeed!

The softer sound does have an effect on the overall interpretation, in my opinion.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWKl6e5BU8s&list=RDWWKl6e5BU8s
The sound has much more in common with a modern piano than pianos from a couple of decades before, which sound like a different instrument to me. I suppose the iron frame marked the biggest change in the sound of the piano.
I studied in the Hague, which is really big on early music. I played on historical pianos several times, and even wrote a research that was partly about fortepianos. While I don't think one should base their modern instrument interpretation on how it sounded then - since that is unfair both to the modern and historical instrument - it is definitely worthwhile to play on them.
Originally Posted by johnstaf
The sound has much more in common with a modern piano than pianos from a couple of decades before, which sound like a different instrument to me. I suppose the iron frame marked the biggest change in the sound of the piano.


Yes, the addition of iron was a big change, necessary to support the increase in string tension, however, the steel frame, and the cast iron frame, had all been invented before, but nobody wanted to use them because of the metallic sound. In those days, the taste was to get a sweet and mellow, organic tone, and with the low tensions, there wasn't a great need to go fully cast iron yet. I imagine that low tension also sounds bad with a full metal frame.

I think that this piano does have a lot in common with modern pianos, although it tends to have a darker pp-mf. If anything, we should be able to have a dark pp-mf on modern pianos, with the option of getting a bright sound when playing into the f-fff range. Today's pianos seem to be bright at any volume, which makes playing Chopin less natural IMO
Sigh ... this is exquisite😽 I do agree that the Pleyel changes the effect to be more suited to Chopin. How I wish I owned one!
Thanks so very much for posting this
Most of the YT performances by great pianists that I checked are around 6:00, almost 50% longer. I thought it sounded pretty terrible at the faster speed so maybe Chopin erred with his tempo marking or maybe the editor made a mistake that Chopin didn't catch. It can't be some secret that Chopin marked it much faster, so the fact that the faster tempo seems to be almost universally ignored seems to say that no great pianist thinks it makes sense. There are other examples where I think pianists generally adopt a tempo much different from what Chopin indicated, one being Op.10 Nos. 6.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I thought it sounded pretty terrible at the faster speed so maybe Chopin erred with his tempo marking or maybe the editor made a mistake that Chopin didn't catch. It can't be some secret that Chopin marked it much faster, so the fact that the faster tempo seems to be almost universally ignored seems to say that no great pianist thinks it makes sense. There are other examples where I think pianists generally adopt a tempo much different from what Chopin indicated, one being Op.10 Nos. 6.

In the late 80's, when the HIP movement was taking off, conductor Roger Norrington recorded a series of performances of Beethoven's symphonies using Beethoven's original tempo markings. None was more controversial than his performance of the 9th, which clocked in at 62 minutes, when the average performance is 69:30. Needless to say, I don't think many conductors pay much attention to Beethoven's tempo markings on symphonies. Other HIP performances of his symphonies have restored instruments, performance practices, temperaments, and everything except Beethoven's tempos, which generally have not been used as gospel.

EDIT: BTW, this is the entirety of Norrington's performance of Beethoven's 9th at Beethoven's own tempo markings. If you try it, put on your seatbelts first!

An interesting and unique interpretation of this Nocturne, although not to my taste. What I find objectionable isn't so much the faster tempo, but rather the "drunken" effect where the hands are almost never played in sync. Although almost everyone does this to some degree for this kind of music, I rarely find it used in such a heavy fashion like this. It almost sounds like the melody is syncopated through the entire piece.
Originally Posted by rach3master
An interesting and unique interpretation of this Nocturne, although not to my taste. What I find objectionable isn't so much the faster tempo, but rather the "drunken" effect where the hands are almost never played in sync. Although almost everyone does this to some degree for this kind of music, I rarely find it used in such a heavy fashion like this. It almost sounds like the melody is syncopated through the entire piece.
I thought the pianist was trying to play in the LH before RH style popular in the 19th century because of the piano he was playing on. No serious plays that way any more, and I did find it annoying and ineffective.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

In the late 80's, when the HIP movement was taking off, conductor Roger Norrington recorded a series of performances of Beethoven's symphonies using Beethoven's original tempo markings. None was more controversial than his performance of the 9th, which clocked in at 62 minutes, when the average performance is 69:30.
If he did it as comparatively fast vs. standard speed as the pianist in the video the Beethoven would be about 46 minutes.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Most of the YT performances by great pianists that I checked are around 6:00, almost 50% longer. I thought it sounded pretty terrible at the faster speed so maybe Chopin erred with his tempo marking or maybe the editor made a mistake that Chopin didn't catch. It can't be some secret that Chopin marked it much faster, so the fact that the faster tempo seems to be almost universally ignored seems to say that no great pianist thinks it makes sense. There are other examples where I think pianists generally adopt a tempo much different from what Chopin indicated, one being Op.10 Nos. 6.


Well, on the manuscript it's a dotted quarter for 50 BPM, so there is no mistake.

Chopin always placed phrase legatos on his manuscript, as to say that it was essential to the composition.

The left hand is organized in groups of six notes that should be played as a phrase. People who heard him play, say that he played in 'waves', so perhaps the left hand pulse of 50 BPM was represented by the entire 6 note arpeggio, as if it was one beat. If you treat the notes individually, and not as a whole, that's perhaps where the confusion sets in.

Old music was simply played in a fashion that most people today don't like so much, but don't forget we are talking about the most famous piano composer of all time, perhaps.
Originally Posted by rach3master
An interesting and unique interpretation of this Nocturne, although not to my taste. What I find objectionable isn't so much the faster tempo, but rather the "drunken" effect where the hands are almost never played in sync. Although almost everyone does this to some degree for this kind of music, I rarely find it used in such a heavy fashion like this. It almost sounds like the melody is syncopated through the entire piece.


Chopin, it was written by an observer, 'could not' play in time, although Mikuli says he always kept a Metronome on his piano.

On Chopin's earliest works, he often wrote 'tempo rubato' on his manuscripts. He later stopped doing that because people did not understand what he meant.

In his teaching he said that the left hand was the conductor and the right hand should be free to wonder rhythmically 'as much as possible'

This is nothing new IF you listen to great singers. Most of the world famous singers (including more recent ones such as Sinatra or even George Michael) sing behind the beat (in pianistic terms, after the left hand) and occasionally in front of it.. this is the essence of Rubato: you steal time from some notes and give them to others.

Let's just say the old way of playing does not fit today's aesthetic, much like the pianos' sound of old is too soft and mellow.
Here is the manuscript.

http://www.chopinonline.ac.uk/ocve/browse/pageview/70279/
Very nice. I once owned a Chickering 8’3” grand with a straight string plate and action. It was from the early 1870’s and had a similar tone, more delicate than a modern piano. I think the advent of the overstrung plate and action, moving the bass and high treble strings more over the middle, more resonant part of the soundboard is a significant change that provides the depth and power of the sound of a modern grand. Once this was done, higher tension with thicker strings was a natural way to leverage that even more.
I'll be the minority and say that I love the nocturne played this way. I prefer the faster tempo, and the disjuct of right and left hand is incredibly expressive to me.
Hi, acortot! Count me in as another minority vote -- I wasn't taken so much by the "darkness" of sound as by the very light action of the piano and the quick decay of sound, relative to most modern grands. Those aspects allowed the pianist to provide convincing soundscapes at speeds that IMO would simply be unattainable on a modern grand. And I also agree that the slight disjunction between the hands is aesthetically appropriate here, because the character of this piece is that of a singer with piano accompaniment. Also, I loved the silvery quality of the right hand throughout, beautifully in tune and focused. IMO, a thorough success -- I think Chopin would have been most impressed.
Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Hi, acortot! Count me in as another minority vote -- I wasn't taken so much by the "darkness" of sound as by the very light action of the piano and the quick decay of sound, relative to most modern grands. Those aspects allowed the pianist to provide convincing soundscapes at speeds that IMO would simply be unattainable on a modern grand. And I also agree that the slight disjunction between the hands is aesthetically appropriate here, because the character of this piece is that of a singer with piano accompaniment. Also, I loved the silvery quality of the right hand throughout, beautifully in tune and focused. IMO, a thorough success -- I think Chopin would have been most impressed.

I agree. I think it sounds exquisitely beautiful.
I have never heard any professional pianist play this piece nearly as fast as the video even though the Chopin tempo marking is cannot be a secret. IOW they apparently reject Chopin's tempo marking and play it much slower. Are there any YT recordings by any great pianist playing it as fast as this video? I also think the extreme use of asynchronization of the hands ruins the piece,
Those of use who have lived through the better (?) half of the last century may have difficulty with this tempo, having been brought up as we were with the more "traditional" tempo from the likes of ... well, just about every concert pianist I can mention.

So many significant details, harmonic and decorative, seem to be tossed off as inconsequential. I have difficulty appreciating this Nocturne at this tempo. I find the sound of the piano very interesting and even quite appealing, however.

Regards,
Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
Hi, acortot! Count me in as another minority vote -- I wasn't taken so much by the "darkness" of sound as by the very light action of the piano and the quick decay of sound, relative to most modern grands. Those aspects allowed the pianist to provide convincing soundscapes at speeds that IMO would simply be unattainable on a modern grand. And I also agree that the slight disjunction between the hands is aesthetically appropriate here, because the character of this piece is that of a singer with piano accompaniment. Also, I loved the silvery quality of the right hand throughout, beautifully in tune and focused. IMO, a thorough success -- I think Chopin would have been most impressed.



Hi, thanks!

Indeed it's close to impossible to play the pieces at the original tempo with modern pianos, especially the ones that are voiced brightly, because all you hear is the clashing of the different notes.

Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Originally Posted by BruceD
Those of use who have lived through the better (?) half of the last century may have difficulty with this tempo, having been brought up as we were with the more "traditional" tempo from the likes of ... well, just about every concert pianist I can mention.

So many significant details, harmonic and decorative, seem to be tossed off as inconsequential. I have difficulty appreciating this Nocturne at this tempo. I find the sound of the piano very interesting and even quite appealing, however.

Regards,


Hi, Thanks.

A lot of the technical details of Chopin's music were intentionally there to give color but not to be in the foreground. I say this because Chopin did say that 1) 'it is up to the listener to complete the picture' 2) People who heard him say he sounded like an Aeolian Harp (a harp played by the wind), or a glass harmonica 3) people described his playing as being 'like water' or 'like waves' 4) Chopin insisted that his friends witness his concerts from as far away as possible from the piano.

As a result of the above information, and the overall softness of the sound, I am inclined to guess that he played very quickly and legato, as if to form flurries of notes with only a few 'lead' or vocal.like tones standing out, so that he would create separation between foreground and background.


The kind of detail he brought to the picture, was therefore, probably inferred and not stated outright, much like Impressionist painters did years later.

Needless to say, he must have been a very confident pianist to be content not to show all his work, because indeed, under these circumstances, incredibly difficult and speedy arpeggio work sounds like a blur of notes, which can sometimes pass unobserved to everyone but trained musicians.
Originally Posted by acortot
Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Most of the great pianists could play the D flat Nocturne significantly faster than they do if perhaps not quite as fast as on the posted recording. I think they choose not to do so even though most would be familiar with Chopin's tempo marking because they don't think it sounds good at that speed.
Originally Posted by acortot

This is a recording, done with a small handheld Tascam digital recorder of an 1844 Pleyel I restored years ago, which belonged to me for a while.

The reason I am posting this is because of the sound, which most of you will think is quite odd, and not quite pianistic, but more like a Piano Shaped Object.

The sound is the way it is because the hammers are covered with the 1840's grey felt which was applied on the piano when it was new, and the felt wore out after a couple of years use, so it is extremely rare. I have plenty of documentation that proves that this veiled, dark sound is actually the sound that Chopin heard, so if anyone is interested, I can send you a PDF with all the information.

The tempo is 50 BPM for each dotted quarter note, which is the tempo indicated by Chopin. This makes it so that the left hand plays groups of 6 notes every BPM!

I am quite sure most of you out there would not like to play on this kind of piano, because of the muffled sound, but I have collected proof that this dark sound was what was in fashion from at least 1830 to 1850! Strange indeed!

The softer sound does have an effect on the overall interpretation, in my opinion.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWKl6e5BU8s&list=RDWWKl6e5BU8s

Lovely interpretation. Thank you!
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I have never heard any professional pianist play this piece nearly as fast as the video even though the Chopin tempo marking is cannot be a secret. IOW they apparently reject Chopin's tempo marking and play it much slower. Are there any YT recordings by any great pianist playing it as fast as this video? I also think the extreme use of asynchronization of the hands ruins the piece,


Actually, this was my intro to the piece. Of course a lot of recording sound like paint drying to me comparatively, and it's often a bit frustrating for me to sit through some of the really ponderous tempi.



Originally Posted by acortot


A lot of the technical details of Chopin's music were intentionally there to give color but not to be in the foreground. I say this because Chopin did say that 1) 'it is up to the listener to complete the picture' 2) People who heard him say he sounded like an Aeolian Harp (a harp played by the wind), or a glass harmonica 3) people described his playing as being 'like water' or 'like waves' 4) Chopin insisted that his friends witness his concerts from as far away as possible from the piano.


It's fascinating to me to learn of this because I always find myself striving for a similar effect. I just think a piano sounds nicer when played with these aesthetics in mind. Of course, I've had a lot of complaints about my tempi being too fast, but hey. I like it. ha
I always got the sense that Pollini was in a big hurry to be elsewhere with that performance. Some of the runs are executed so fast I couldn't help but focus on his pure fingerwork, which in my opinion shouldn't be the center of attention for this music. This recording that he did earlier with a conventional tempo is infinitely more attractive to my ears.
Originally Posted by MikeN
I'll be the minority and say that I love the nocturne played this way. I prefer the faster tempo, and the disjuct of right and left hand is incredibly expressive to me.

+1
I’ve spent a lot of time reading about Chopin and I’ve been recently obsessed with listening to some old masters such as Alfred Cortot (himself a student of a Chopin’s student), Ignaz Friedman, Josef Hofmann, Raoul Koczalski (student of Mikuli, the most dedicated student of Chopin, his first big editor) and to my understanding this is how Chopin used to play himself. I thoroughly enjoyed this interpretation and the sound of the piano.
Originally Posted by acortot

The sound is the way it is because the hammers are covered with the 1840's grey felt which was applied on the piano when it was new, and the felt wore out after a couple of years use, so it is extremely rare. I have plenty of documentation that proves that this veiled, dark sound is actually the sound that Chopin heard, so if anyone is interested, I can send you a PDF with all the information.

Sure, I'm interested in that! I'll send you a PM with my email. Great job, everything, really! 👏🏻
Add me to the group that prefers this faster tempo and the piano sounds lovely though the lower notes decay a bit too quick.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by acortot
Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Most of the great pianists could play the D flat Nocturne significantly faster than they do if perhaps not quite as fast as on the posted recording. I think they choose not to do so even though most would be familiar with Chopin's tempo marking because they don't think it sounds good at that speed.


If you look at Chopin's first editions, and browse through some of the earlier works, that usually had the metronome, you can find some examples.

Also, a lot of pieces have entire sections without the pedal, which works better at faster speeds, and with the smaller dampers of the old Piano Shaped Objects he composed on.
Once again, here is the link to the Chopin First Editions Online site

http://www.chopinonline.ac.uk/cfeo/
Originally Posted by acortot
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by acortot
Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Most of the great pianists could play the D flat Nocturne significantly faster than they do if perhaps not quite as fast as on the posted recording. I think they choose not to do so even though most would be familiar with Chopin's tempo marking because they don't think it sounds good at that speed.


If you look at Chopin's first editions, and browse through some of the earlier works, that usually had the metronome, you can find some examples.
My point was that unless there are many pieces where pianists usually play much more slowly than Chopin's metronome marking, the situation with the D flat Nocturne is essentially a one off. Do you know of any other examples?

If the great ,with possible a few exceptions, basically all choose to play it much slower than Chopin's indication despite undoubtedly know what he marked, doesn't that mean something?
Quote

If the great ,with possible a few exceptions, basically all choose to play it much slower than Chopin's indication despite undoubtedly know what he marked, doesn't that mean something?

Absolutely. But I’d think that what it means is that the established tradition for interpretation of this piece is to play it more slowly than the composer’s tempo instruction. I think it would be a bit of a leap to go so far as to say it is wrong to play the piece at the tempo indicated by the composer.

I think there are many examples of pieces played at a faster tempo than the composer’s intention due to technical showboating. Scott Joplin was unhappy that pianists played his pieces at fast tempos to show off their technique despite instructions that might read “Not fast” or “Not too fast”. He eventually resorted to including the following with some of his published compositions: “Notice! Don't play this piece fast. It is never right to play 'rag time' fast.”

At least the present case with the Nocturne would be motivated by artistic intent.
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote

If the great ,with possible a few exceptions, basically all choose to play it much slower than Chopin's indication despite undoubtedly know what he marked, doesn't that mean something?
Absolutely. But I’d think that what it means is that the established tradition for interpretation of this piece is to play it more slowly than the composer’s tempo instruction. I think it would be a bit of a leap to go so far as to say it is wrong to play the piece at the tempo indicated by the composer.
My point was that great pianists chose to play it slower and that has not changed for a long time. And they chose to play it much slower than Chopin's metronome indication. So yes, there is an established tradition, but that tradition represents the thinking of great pianists and probably not just not unthinking following. They consciously did not follow Chopin's marking which is probably quite infrequent.
My current score for the nocturnes is Edition Peters. It shows Lento Sostenuto and Chopin’s metronome marking in parenthesis. Before recently viewing the PDF of the original manuscript, I always assumed the parenthetical metronome mark was a suggestion of the editor and that most pianists disagreed with the editor.

I assume nobody is advocating for a culture where a performer lacks the license to interpret a piece according to their artistic preferences as long as it is defensible. And I do think following a composer’s instruction is defensible. Listeners of course also have the right to dislike an interpretation or point out that it bucks established tradition,

When I have more time, I will try to post a new thread about a lecture I heard live through an interpreter of Lazar Berman describing the research he did regarding Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto and why he believed that established traditions of interpretations went against the composer’s artistic intention.
Is there recorded a slower version that this?



Some, particularly those who veer towards the tempo in the acortot's video, may even find this version "cringe-worthy." That said, and while I find it too slow, I do admire the control of phrasing that LL is able to achieve at this - what shall I call it? - rather slow tempo? Six minutes plus, as opposed to acortot's four- minute version.

Of course on Youtube, once can always increase the playback by 1.25 or even 1.5 times the video speed...

Regards,
Originally Posted by BruceD
Is there recorded a slower version that this?

I think most of the YouTube videos are around 6:00 so it's only a little slower than most(or at least the ones I looked at when this thread first appeared).

I have told a story about when I heard LL played this at Carnegie Hall quite a long time ago but I will repeat it because it's so funny. On the last line of the piece with the ascending sixths in the RH, LL started leaning further and further back with his eyes closed until he was almost at an angle of 45 degrees beyond vertical. Then, he paused in that position with his eyes closed at the end of the piece for so long I really wanted to yell "Wake up!" but did not have the nerve to do it.
Lang Lang's tempo sounds ok to me, especially since I've played it myself at the same speed before, although now I prefer it slightly faster. For a truly broad tempo, I don't think you'll find any performance more extreme than this.
Acortot sent me the PDF with his analysis of hammer felting around Chopin time and not only it was very interesting and thorough read but also a real eye (and ear) opener! I think I’m totally convinced that Chopin really used to play on a piano with very soft and mellow tone. I’ve heard period Pleyels before but they were disappointing in that they sounded too honky-tonky. However this particular restoration with research about the hammer felting and the linked video are nothing short of stunning! I’m in love with this tone! It’s a pity the piano evolution in the last century and a half gradually went into bright concert instruments whereas I would have loved a mellow salon instrument with this velvety and almost aeolian harp-like quality.

My greatest respect to acortot for letting me experience this wonderful piano!

On a side note, I’m wondering (besides of course hammer voicing) which modern upright/grand has the least bright and powerful sound?
Because high frequency audio attenuates over distance much more so than lower frequencies, a piano designed to be played in a large hall would be well designed if it has a brighter rendition of tone that will sound natural at expected listening distances. The brighter sound of a modern piano reflects the larger halls in which they are played. Pianos smaller than concert grands may still be played in a church, small hall, theater etc. Even full-sized uprights may be used in that way. It is a design decision for the piano.
I have Moravec's recording of the Nocturnes on Elektra and I had forgotten his tempo on this Nocturne since I hadn't listened to it in some time. He "clocks in" at 7:23 on the recording which is consistent with this video. While it is slow, he does carry it off well, I think.

Regards,
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by acortot
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by acortot
Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Most of the great pianists could play the D flat Nocturne significantly faster than they do if perhaps not quite as fast as on the posted recording. I think they choose not to do so even though most would be familiar with Chopin's tempo marking because they don't think it sounds good at that speed.


If you look at Chopin's first editions, and browse through some of the earlier works, that usually had the metronome, you can find some examples.
My point was that unless there are many pieces where pianists usually play much more slowly than Chopin's metronome marking, the situation with the D flat Nocturne is essentially a one off. Do you know of any other examples?

If the great ,with possible a few exceptions, basically all choose to play it much slower than Chopin's indication despite undoubtedly know what he marked, doesn't that mean something?



I think that fashion and tastes have changed, as have pianos.

As mentioned on this thread, the bigger, more sustained and brighter, bolder sound of the modern concert grand does not translate well to the original tempo and pedal markings of the Piano Shaped Objects that Chopin used to compose on. smile
Beethoven was the fastest pianist of his time. Anton Rubinstein was still fast, but slower than Beethoven. Josef Hoffman, slower than Rubinstein, but still fast. Then you hit modern pianists and boom! We're slowpokes in comparison to everyone else!

So bravo for sticking with Chopin's tempo. That must have been really hard.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[quote=acortot]Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Etude in E major, op. 10 no. 3.

Jeff Kallberg
This is a lot faster than I've ever heard my favourite piece of music one earth before. But a beautiful recording. Thank you for sharing this find.

My own favourite version is Kissin's on his "Chopin Collection" double album.
Originally Posted by Jeff Kallberg
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[quote=acortot]Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Etude in E major, op. 10 no. 3.

Jeff Kallberg


Hi, I wanted to avoid getting into it, but the best thing to do is to check the pieces you are already interested in or play on the Chopin first edition or the Chopin Variorum site.

There are many, including Op.26, Op. 9 etc.

http://www.chopinonline.ac.uk/ocve/

http://www.chopinonline.ac.uk/cfeo/
Originally Posted by Jeff Kallberg
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[quote=acortot]Perhaps one of the principal reasons why Chopin and a lot of other composers are played at a fraction of the speed that they were conceived at.
Which other Chopin pieces are usually played much slower than the composer's indication? The only other one I know if is the Etude in E flat minor.

Etude in E major, op. 10 no. 3.

Jeff Kallberg


I looked through the Chopin Nocturnes up to Op. 27, No. 2 which all have Chopin's metronome indications in the (Urtext) score. Without exception, they are all played more slowly - by most professional pianists (current and recent) - than Chopin's marking.

Regards,
Originally Posted by BruceD
I looked through the Chopin Nocturnes up to Op. 27, No. 2 which all have Chopin's metronome indications in the (Urtext) score. Without exception, they are all played more slowly - by most professional pianists (current and recent) - than Chopin's marking.
More slowly or MUCH more slowly like Op. 27 no.2?
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
...
I have told a story about when I heard LL played this at Carnegie Hall quite a long time ago but I will repeat it because it's so funny. On the last line of the piece with the ascending sixths in the RH, LL started leaning further and further back with his eyes closed until he was almost at an angle of 45 degrees beyond vertical. Then, he paused in that position with his eyes closed at the end of the piece for so long I really wanted to yell "Wake up!" but did not have the nerve to do it.

My understanding is that although the video is billed as the debut concert recording, it's actually re-recorded right after the concert on the same stage, or a mixture of the live and the re-recorded footage (even for each piece played).
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

In the late 80's, when the HIP movement was taking off, conductor Roger Norrington recorded a series of performances of Beethoven's symphonies using Beethoven's original tempo markings. None was more controversial than his performance of the 9th, which clocked in at 62 minutes, when the average performance is 69:30.
If he did it as comparatively fast vs. standard speed as the pianist in the video the Beethoven would be about 46 minutes.

I just did a comparison for someone else, and actually, there are movements in this which are even more accelerated than this. For example, consider Movement No. 3. Movement No. III Adagio molto e cantabile is the slow movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

For a traditional performance, we take Bohm's 1981 Vienna Philharmonic recording. The 3rd movement is from 32:06 to 50:20 - a duration of 18 mins 14 secs:



Now compare this to Norrington's 1987 HIP recording using Beethoven's own metronome markings. The 3rd movement is from 28:28 to 39:31 - a duration of 11 mins 3 secs:



In this example here is a huge difference between the composer Beethoven's original metronome marks and the modern performance practice. BTW, Beethoven's own original metronome has been found, tested, and has been found accurate. Modern tastes appear to have changed from Beethoven's time.

What other tastes for performance practice have changed for other pieces? Does anyone have an example of another piece where the current taste is for a vastly different performance than that of the original composer?

Stating the obvious, tastes can only change if performers have the artistic license to use interpretations that are not aligned with the prevailing taste and fashion at the time of the performance. No doubt those who did so were at times critiqued by their less open-minded contemporaries until the different interpretation became the accepted fashion.
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