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Posted By: daoc2009 rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect. - 08/07/20 05:08 PM
tricky topic this but,

what would you prefer,
a performance full of life, beautiful 'magic' sound and subtle nuances and over all effect on a high level with some minor ish rhythm in accuracies vs

a performance where the rhythm is 100 percent spot on but the overall playing is dull and uninspiring, sound is plain and lifeless.

maybe depends on the piece but why is sometimes rhythm the most important thing when perhaps how beautiful it actually sounds is perhaps the most important thing when it comes down to it.
surely if it sounds good, then it is good?

everyone plays the same piece differently so does that mean that everyone is technically playing bits 'wrong' otherwise everyone would sound the same?
Last summer at piano camp, I heard a young man in his late teens play Clair De Lune in the most original and beautiful way. His rubatos and dynamic changes were not strictly what the score said, but I found them to be very pleasing. I felt like he was showing us his secret heart and I was very touched. The master class teacher was very critical of his somewhat unconventional playing and I could see he was crestfallen. I pulled him aside after class and told him how beautiful I thought his playing was. I also advised him to play strictly according to the score when he is being evaluated but to continue playing in his personal, beautiful and expressive way when performing. I'd hate to see this wonderfully talented young man strangled by convention.
Posted By: BruceD Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect. - 08/07/20 05:50 PM
I think that you have given two hypothetical extremes whereas most of our listening experiences from amateur performers would fall somewhere in between. One may have a preference towards "beautiful" performances and with appropriate rubato accounting for what you call rhythmic inaccuracies.

On the other hand, many world-class professionals will give performances that are not only "beautiful" but will also be rhythmically accurate.

That said, then, I don't understand that I need to choose between your two extremes.

Regards,
Originally Posted by BruceD
I think that you have given two hypothetical extremes whereas most of our listening experiences from amateur performers would fall somewhere in between. One may have a preference towards "beautiful" performances and with appropriate rubato accounting for what you call rhythmic inaccuracies.

On the other hand, many world-class professionals will give performances that are not only "beautiful" but will also be rhythmically accurate.

That said, then, I don't understand that I need to choose between your two extremes.

Regards,
Exactly, kind of like choosing between a performance filled with wrong notes or a performance at half speed but without wrong notes.
If I had to choose, the beauty of the sound (the magic) would take precedence. That being said, two interpretations of the score will never be identical even with the same overall note rhythm: I.e., a crescendo is in the score. How much? Exactly when to start it etc can be subject to variation. The tempo is ‘allegro’: that still leaves room for decisions. And then there is rubato which is open to interpretation and variation. How much do you emphasize the melody? . Do I roll the chord? The list of variations is endless while still faithful to the intent of the composer.

A fun exercise is to take one piece and listen to a few top notch pianists play it. Read the score while they are playing and note the variation.
There's a Bernstein clip where he discusses such issues, and this isn't it. But it's similar...



In the one I'm thinking of, he said that small rhythmic liberties (in addition to larger decisions about tempo), which interrupt the strict time, represent tension and release, the shape of the melody, breathe life into the music, and so forth. They are part of your understanding of the composer's intent (and not only will, but should, differ from performer to performer).

But don't get it all entirely wrong. 😁 (That's me talking, not Lenny). You can't completely discount "tradition" (handed down teaching shifting over time) as far as "how something goes."
Originally Posted by daoc2009
tricky topic this but,

what would you prefer,
a performance full of life, beautiful 'magic' sound and subtle nuances and over all effect on a high level with some minor ish rhythm in accuracies vs

a performance where the rhythm is 100 percent spot on but the overall playing is dull and uninspiring, sound is plain and lifeless.

What does it mean, "spot on"

If a robot/midi sequencer plays the piece, it's technically spot on but it's a useless kind of spot on

If someone plays with a great swing, he's also spot on but in a different way that is much more interesting

In general, I always seek for the performance that captures my attention in a positive way. I don't really care if it's rhythmically accurate or subtle nuances. It's in what the performer brings, not where he got it from.


But 'dull' would never cut it I guess so I would take the first option.
Except in a small number of rhythmically challenging pieces, being rhythmically correct is not difficult. Another reason the posed question, even as a purely hypothetical one, makes little sense to me. A completely false choice.

Incredibly good except for poor rhythm vs. incredibly bad except for perfect rhythm? Just a choice of evils that doesn't occur in real life. If someone has good rhythm but is poor in other areas, they should work on the other areas.
Posted By: Kgbow Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect. - 08/08/20 02:31 AM
This is all very relavant to what im learning right now. I have listened to quite a few versions of Clair de Lune and they ALL vary. The best version (in my opinion) is actually very varied and definitely to the players taste.

So, in my opinion, it's all down to preference. Personal at that. If you're being evaluated then perhaps it be best to follow it to the score. But, if its your performance, then its YOUR performance.

As a bluegrass/country singer and banjo player. I hear all the time "thats not now Earl played it" "thats not how Tony sung it" however, these comments usually only came from "purists" so to speak. The further away we strayed, the more acclaim we got and actually thats what we ended up being known for.

The best players in the world (in the bluegrass community) are completely original and do things their own way. Perhaps we can compare between the two genres?
Kg
Seems like you might be a Debussy fan ( or maybe you just like Clair de Lune)
Anyway, I love this website because it has Debussy’s thoughts on his style
Debussy method .

I book-marked at tempo/rubato but there are other topics on the right
Posted By: Kgbow Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect. - 08/08/20 02:56 AM
Originally Posted by dogperson
Kg
Seems like you might be a Debussy fan ( or maybe you just like Clair de Lune)
Anyway, I love this website because it has Debussy’s thoughts on his style
Debussy method .

I book-marked at tempo/rubato but there are other topics on the right

Haha I am slightly! Thank you for the link! smile

I actually, as I've got older started leaning more on the Debussy style/period. The music just takes me back to a happy place of mysticism that feels so detached from any other kind of music that helps me... meditate?! I don't know what I'm trying to say but it's somewhere along those lines. No, I don't smoke the funny stuff haha
Depends on the music. If you are playing a piece with an ensemble or other musicians, your rhythm would be locked in with other people. Otherwise you lose the sense of harmony. Back in my school days, my music teacher got the school band (15 people) to play a Bach fugue. In some places we were 2 bars off from each other but we managed to end at the same time.

If you're playing solo, you can stretch the beat of the R melody line and the L accompaniment would follow accordingly. As long as you know the sequence of notes and how the L & R sync together, the counting problem is not as noticeable.
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Depends on the music. If you are playing a piece with an ensemble or other musicians, your rhythm would be locked in with other people. Otherwise you lose the sense of harmony. Back in my school days, my music teacher got the school band (15 people) to play a Bach fugue. In some places we were 2 bars off from each other but we managed to end at the same time.

If you're playing solo, you can stretch the beat of the R melody line and the L accompaniment would follow accordingly. As long as you know the sequence of notes and how the L & R sync together, the counting problem is not as noticeable.


Making a conscious decision that rubato is appropriate based on the score is one thing; to not know how to count and assuming it won’t be noticeable is quite another. Knowing how to count and maintaining the pulse of the music is critical and failures will always be noticeable. You can’t hide it.
Originally Posted by Kgbow
This is all very relavant to what im learning right now. I have listened to quite a few versions of Clair de Lune and they ALL vary. The best version (in my opinion) is actually very varied and definitely to the players taste.

So, in my opinion, it's all down to preference. Personal at that. If you're being evaluated then perhaps it be best to follow it to the score. But, if its your performance, then its YOUR performance.

As a bluegrass/country singer and banjo player. I hear all the time "thats not now Earl played it" "thats not how Tony sung it" however, these comments usually only came from "purists" so to speak. The further away we strayed, the more acclaim we got and actually thats what we ended up being known for.

The best players in the world (in the bluegrass community) are completely original and do things their own way. Perhaps we can compare between the two genres?
There is a huge difference between classical and bluegrass/country. Every non classical performance is a cover and major liberties with the original are common and acceptable. Those liberties can include the notes and rhythm. In classical music, the amount of acceptable liberty is generally smaller. Rarely are notes changed except occasionally in some pieces like a Liszt Rhapsody. Same for the rhythm. Rubato is acceptable but changing the rhythm is not OK. Of course, a few pianists, even some good ones, may play with such extreme rubato that it comes close to changing the rhythm but this is rare.
WhoDwaldi and dogperson tell you about the nuance you should be looking for: there is some room for interpretation on the precise details, of rhythm/tempo/dynamics etc., and hence there is a need for performers rather than midi. The rhythm should be substantially correct, but once it is, there are various rubatos that might be appropriate. We seek the music, not the score.

Again, look to hints for dogperson and WhoDwaldi on what to look for there.
--------------------------------------

But I must confess, as a touchy amateur, that I genuinely prefer the magical incorrect option to the mechanically perfect one.

Perhaps I am being self-justified: I feel like I stand a better chance of being type 1 (and yet very bad at playing) somehow, than of being rhythmically perfect and dull.

But in honesty, the very fact that I've disproportionately practiced sounding how I like in music, and that I practice rhythm much less than I should, suggests I do prefer 1 over 2. The fact I don't drill myself on perfecting something doable shows, to some extent, that that is not what I value most.

--------------------------------------
Of course, in classical music, we are more demanding of actually playing right, but

suppose someone did have a professional level of 'magic' in their playing, with a decidedly unprofessional level of obliviousness to correct notes or of willful idiosyncrasy, etc. That could be -interesting- too, no? Such an imbalance, at such a high level.
Posted By: Kgbow Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect. - 08/08/20 03:49 PM
See this is so interesting to me. My old music lecturer (was concert pianist in his day) Tends to now (when I was in music college) be all about "self expression" Play it the way YOU like it. On the other hand, he also said never to mess with rhythm when it came to Bach. hahaha.
Originally Posted by winterflower
But I must confess, as a touchy amateur, that I genuinely prefer the magical incorrect option to the mechanically perfect one. That's a completely false choice that no pianist has to choose between them. All professional pianists today play with correct rhythm because I think you are incorrectly assuming that correct rhythm means no rubato.There were some pianists from say before around 1920 who played with such extreme rubato that by present day standards some would say they played with incorrect rhythm. But that's a thing of the past.
Perhaps I am being self-justified: I feel like I stand a better chance of being type 1 (and yet very bad at playing) somehow, than of being rhythmically perfect and dull. Rhythmically correct doesn't mean dull or metronomic. You don't have to choose between the two approaches.

But in honesty, the very fact that I've disproportionately practiced sounding how I like in music, and that I practice rhythm much less than I should, suggests I do prefer 1 over 2. The fact I don't drill myself on perfecting something doable shows, to some extent, that that is not what I value most. If you can't play with correct rhythm when you want to that should be practiced IMO. None of the the winners of the Chopin Competition played metronomically or without rubato but they all played with correct rhythm.
Originally Posted by dogperson
Making a conscious decision that rubato is appropriate based on the score is one thing; to not know how to count and assuming it won’t be noticeable is quite another. Knowing how to count and maintaining the pulse of the music is critical and failures will always be noticeable. You can’t hide it.

Agree 100%.
I think often the rhythmic offenses are not intentional, not rubato, not interpretation. It's actually bad playing, can't count properly. With this kind of bad rhythm, the performance cannot be beautiful.

There is a right rhythm that the music demands which is not the computer played rhythm. Poor rhythm is just offensive to the ear but rubato sounds fine. With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.

I didn't think ritardando was considered rubato. The pianist is of course not consciously keeping track. I didn't just dream it up on the spot. Anyway, let's just say I am wrong and forget it.
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.

I didn't think ritardando was considered rubato. The pianist is of course not consciously keeping track. I didn't just dream it up on the spot. Anyway, let's just say I am wrong and forget it.


I don’t consider that you are wrong, at all. Rubato is not just slowing down: it can also be intermittent speeding up to provide color and forward movement to a piece: like an ebb and flow of the tide. The total impact on the score ‘timeline’ is approx where you would be if none of this occurred.
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.

I didn't think ritardando was considered rubato. The pianist is of course not consciously keeping track. I didn't just dream it up on the spot. Anyway, let's just say I am wrong and forget it.


I don’t consider that you are wrong, at all. Rubato is not just slowing down: it can also be intermittent speeding up to provide color and forward movement to a piece: like an ebb and flow of the tide. The total impact on the score ‘timeline’ is approx where you would be if none of this occurred.
No one said that rubato means just slowing down. And no one said that that the slowing downs and speeding ups might end up cancelling each other out at least partially/mostly.

But the idea that one must consciously try and make up lost time and/or do that in some precise way is not correct. I think this is a common misconception. Some say since rubato means stolen time that any time stolen must be given back, but my response would be "Why, rubato is not like stealing money?"
Originally Posted by daoc2009
a performance where the rhythm is 100 percent spot on but the overall playing is dull and uninspiring, sound is plain and lifeless.
It is simply impossible for a human to achieve 100 percent rhythmic precision, only a computer can do it. Subtle rhythmic inaccuracies is what makes music feel alive. Music played with 100 percent rhythmic accuracy will always feel lifeless, even if it is played with great dynamics. I'd never prefer music played like that.

Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.

I didn't think ritardando was considered rubato. The pianist is of course not consciously keeping track. I didn't just dream it up on the spot. Anyway, let's just say I am wrong and forget it.
You are not wrong at all. It's the way I was taught, this is one of fundamental principles of interpretation, and I think every good pianist knows it and follows it. The thing is that if you tend to only make speed bursts in your interpretation it will soon start irritating audience, and if you tend to only slow down in your interpretation it will also start to irritate people. You need to find balance between slowing down's and speeding up's in order to make good interpretation.

Certainly no pianist sits with a calculator counting beats as pianoloverus might have thought. Mathematical precision is not required in this. To a great extent it's a matter of good taste and pianists with good taste just feel it naturally. And others need to consider this principle when making their interpretations.
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.

I didn't think ritardando was considered rubato. The pianist is of course not consciously keeping track. I didn't just dream it up on the spot. Anyway, let's just say I am wrong and forget it.
You are not wrong at all. It's the way I was taught, this is one of fundamental principles of interpretation, and I think every good pianist knows it and follows it. The thing is that if you tend to only make speed bursts in your interpretation it will soon start irritating audience, and if you tend to only slow down in your interpretation it will also start to irritate people. You need to find balance between slowing down's and speeding up's in order to make good interpretation.

Certainly no pianist sits with a calculator counting beats as pianoloverus might have thought. Mathematical precision is not required in this. To a great extent it's a matter of good taste and pianists with good taste just feel it naturally. And others need to consider this principle when making their interpretations.
As you can see in the part I bolded it wasn't my idea that the "pianist sits with the calculator counting beats", i.e must exactly balance any time lost with time gained, but it was the idea of the person whose post I commented on. And it's not a correct idea. In the normal course of playing a piece with appropriate rubato any speeding up might be mostly be balanced by slowing down but not necessarily so. In a very short piece a small number of added ritards would not have to be balanced by some accelerandos to be played with good rubato.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don’t consider that you are wrong, at all. Rubato is not just slowing down: it can also be intermittent speeding up to provide color and forward movement to a piece: like an ebb and flow of the tide. The total impact on the score ‘timeline’ is approx where you would be if none of this occurred.
No one said that rubato means just slowing down. And no one said that that the slowing downs and speeding ups might end up cancelling each other out at least partially/mostly.

But the idea that one must consciously try and make up lost time and/or do that in some precise way is not correct. I think this is a common misconception. Some say since rubato means stolen time that any time stolen must be given back, but my response would be "Why, rubato is not like stealing money?"[/quote]

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I was tutored in my Masters year by a Professor who had a PhD in baroque music - her husband, also a Professor, had his PhD in voice, focusing on the whole spectrum of vocal repertoire.

One afternoon we were preparing for my final recital performance - and during those sessions they both participated and offered comments and critique. We were doing final touches to the Escenas Romanticas by Granados. Her comments: You have to keep time. His comments: You understand the architecture of the music - nothing wrong. Arguments ensued and finally the drama of opera vs. the purity of a keyboard work was decided as the difference in interpretation and architecture was not mentioned again for the duration of the lesson.

And I think that is where we tend to go wrong sometimes - the architecture of a composition by Granados is much different from that of Bach or Scarlatti. It is chalk and cheese - but it is still music. And Scarlatti is again different from Bach, allowing for more freedom of expression in the interpretation of his sonatas. Of course, the good doctor did not like my playing very much, but it was at least accurate according to the score - I hit all the correct notes.

Bach - by necessity need to be "almost" strictly in time - that is the architecture of the music. There is almost no room for rubato, at least very few of his keyboard compositions. But, Wolgang Rubsam has a very different idea of Bach interpretation, which I quite like but cannot seem to comprehend, at least in my playing. It is worth listening to.

I mostly hear pianists play Erik Satie's music in very strict rhythmic fashion, almost like satire. Yet everyone always associate (some) of his music with Oriental mysticism. By that association alone - and given his exact instructions as to how it should be played, pianists are making a grave mistake by playing without compassion when he instructs "with the utmost of compassion". The same with the music of Debussy, and almost any other composer that I can think of, sans the instructions. One simply feels the way it should be played - it is all in the score.

We have anecdotal references to their playing in literature - but we still do not know. Scriabin is famous for that - he almost never played any work the same during performances and often changed it altogether during a performance.

So for me - rubato, interpretation and all those devises we use to enhance our performance of a work - relies very much on the architecture of the work. In that lies the secret of performance parameters, which include rhythm and rubato to name but a few. The construction, for instance of Chopin's nocturne Op. 48 no 1 is quite alien to the construction of the other nocturnes. How do we interpret that, given 99% of pianists play a very florid version of the nocturnes. It is like comparing the Bastille to Buckingham palace. It is Chopin in his most masculine iteration.

Deon
Originally Posted by manykeys
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don’t consider that you are wrong, at all. Rubato is not just slowing down: it can also be intermittent speeding up to provide color and forward movement to a piece: like an ebb and flow of the tide. The total impact on the score ‘timeline’ is approx where you would be if none of this occurred.
No one said that rubato means just slowing down. And no one said that that the slowing downs and speeding ups might end up cancelling each other out at least partially/mostly.

But the idea that one must consciously try and make up lost time and/or do that in some precise way is not correct. I think this is a common misconception. Some say since rubato means stolen time that any time stolen must be given back, but my response would be "Why, rubato is not like stealing money?"

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I was tutored in my Masters year by a Professor who had a PhD in baroque music - her husband, also a Professor, had his PhD in voice, focusing on the whole spectrum of vocal repertoire.

One afternoon we were preparing for my final recital performance - and during those sessions they both participated and offered
comments and critique. We were doing final touches to the Escenas Romanticas by Granados. Her comments: You have to keep time. His comments: You understand the architecture of the music - nothing wrong. Arguments ensued and finally the drama of opera vs. the purity of a keyboard work was decided as the difference in interpretation and architecture was not mentioned again for the duration of the lesson.

And I think that is where we tend to go wrong sometimes - the architecture of a composition by Granados is much different from that of Bach or Scarlatti. It is chalk and cheese - but it is still music. And Scarlatti is again different from Bach, allowing for more freedom of expression in the interpretation of his sonatas. Of course, the good doctor did not like my playing very much, but it was at least accurate according to the score - I hit all the correct notes.

Bach - by necessity need to be "almost" strictly in time - that is the architecture of the music. There is almost no room for rubato, at least very few of his keyboard compositions. But, Wolgang Rubsam has a very different idea of Bach interpretation, which I quite like but cannot seem to comprehend, at least in my playing. It is worth listening to.

I mostly hear pianists play Erik Satie's music in very strict rhythmic fashion, almost like satire. Yet everyone always associate (some) of his music with Oriental mysticism. By that association alone - and given his exact instructions as to how it should be played, pianists are making a grave mistake by playing without compassion when he instructs "with the utmost of compassion". The same with the music of Debussy, and almost any other composer that I can think of, sans the instructions. One simply feels the way it should be played - it is all in the score.

We have anecdotal references to their playing in literature - but we still do not know. Scriabin is famous for that - he almost never played any work the same during performances and often changed it altogether during a performance.

So for me - rubato, interpretation and all those devises we use to enhance our performance of a work - relies very much on the architecture of the work. In that lies the secret of performance parameters, which include rhythm and rubato to name but a few. The construction, for instance of Chopin's nocturne Op. 48 no 1 is quite alien to the construction of the other nocturnes. How do we interpret that, given 99% of pianists play a very florid version of the nocturnes. It is like comparing the Bastille to Buckingham palace. It is Chopin in his most masculine iteration.

Deon[/quote]The first paragraph of the what you quoted at the beginning of your post as by me was actually by poster dogperson. The next two paragraphs in the quoted part were my reply, This may have happened due to an earlier post by me where I made an error with all the quotes and sub quotes.
Still trying to navigate this site. Apologies
Originally Posted by manykeys
Still trying to navigate this site.Apologies
No apologies necessary. I think I was the one who originally messed this up with an earlier post with many embedded quotes.
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Originally Posted by dogperson
Making a conscious decision that rubato is appropriate based on the score is one thing; to not know how to count and assuming it won’t be noticeable is quite another. Knowing how to count and maintaining the pulse of the music is critical and failures will always be noticeable. You can’t hide it.

Agree 100%.
I agree 81.4%: I agree 100% that Knowing how to count and maintaining the pulse of the music is critical...
...but it seems that it's not noticeable all the time or, perhaps more to the point of this thread, people just don't care when it's not maintained if there's some other "spellbinding magic" happening.

I can't stand trash like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4ANi8CmHDI

There's no way you can discern Scriabin's op. 11 no. 24 was 6/8+5/8 from this performance. This pianist betrays nuanced, rhythmically interesting music by presenting it as mush.

Many modern classical pianists have just no clue about rhythm.
How do we know people don’t care if the pulse is not maintained if there is some other magic? Purely rhetorical. Since I can’t guarantee I will have magic that disguises my sins, I’ll assume rhythm lapses will be noticed.
Originally Posted by dogperson
How do we know people don’t care if the pulse is not maintained if there is some other magic? Purely rhetorical. Since I can’t guarantee I will have magic that disguises my sins, I’ll assume rhythm lapses will be noticed.

I was only using (perhaps faulty) deductive reasoning. The YouTube and concertizing landscape is, in to my ear, rife with performances that don't reflect a pulse. The guilty performers nevertheless persist in sales, concert bookings, thousands upon millions of online "followers", "likes" and "upvotes", and general approval.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As you can see in the part I bolded it wasn't my idea that the "pianist sits with the calculator counting beats", i.e must exactly balance any time lost with time gained, but it was the idea of the person whose post I commented on. And it's not a correct idea. In the normal course of playing a piece with appropriate rubato any speeding up might be mostly be balanced by slowing down but not necessarily so. In a very short piece a small number of added ritards would not have to be balanced by some accelerandos to be played with good rubato.
I can't understand your point of view precisely. Do you deny the principle of balance as a whole, or do you mean that the principle is generally correct but there may be some exceptions among very short pieces?
Originally Posted by mcontraveos
Many modern classical pianists have just no clue about rhythm.
If we were discussing modern pianists in total I'd not agree. I think the average level of rhythmical accuracy among modern pianists is higher than that of pianists of the past. Probably it's because of the influence of rock 'n' roll and other modern genres that are based on very steady rhythm.

But it also may be that I've got wrong impression because of poor quality of old recordings. It's frequently discussed that old recordings are not precise concerning the rhythm, because the revolving mechanisms on old audio devices were not precise.
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by mcontraveos
Many modern classical pianists have just no clue about rhythm.
If we were discussing modern pianists in total I'd not agree. I think the average level of rhythmical accuracy among modern pianists is higher than that of pianists of the past. Probably it's because of the influence of rock 'n' roll and other modern genres that are based on very steady rhythm.

By modern, I especially mean pianists that have come to prominence since the dawn of YouTube...for argument's sake, call it the last ten years.


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But it also may be that I've got wrong impression because of poor quality of old recordings. It's frequently discussed that old recordings are not precise concerning the rhythm, because the revolving mechanisms on old audio devices were not precise.

I should be more clear -- what you're getting at is not the kind of imprecision I was referring to. It's not the sort of thing that can be explained with inconsistent playback mechanisms. It's when pianists don't understand that there is a time signature for their piece, and that it means something that should be conveyed. In that clip above, the listener needs to be able to feel 6 beats followed by 5 beats in that clip -- I just don't think that's possible because the pianist simply didn't care. And she appears to have been born well after the advent of rock 'n' roll. She is also by no means alone.
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As you can see in the part I bolded it wasn't my idea that the "pianist sits with the calculator counting beats", i.e must exactly balance any time lost with time gained, but it was the idea of the person whose post I commented on. And it's not a correct idea. In the normal course of playing a piece with appropriate rubato any speeding up might be mostly be balanced by slowing down but not necessarily so. In a very short piece a small number of added ritards would not have to be balanced by some accelerandos to be played with good rubato.
I can't understand your point of view precisely. Do you deny the principle of balance as a whole, or do you mean that the principle is generally correct but there may be some exceptions among very short pieces?
In the course of a long piece with many moods(a Chopin Ballade, for example) it seems reasonable that any rubato would include some slowing down and some speeding up but not because the pianist was trying to balance things out. In a shorter, less varied or less complex piece it's reasonable that there might be just a few instances of rubato that were just slowing down or just speeding up or at least didn't balance out. I gave one simple example where a piece could be played with little rubato except a slowing down at the end.

In any event, I don't think rubato should be determined by any need to balance things out. It should be determined by the music. I don''t agree with any principle of balance, and I've never heard it mentioned or hinted at even once in the over 100 master classes I've heard.
Posted By: BruceD Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect. - 08/11/20 08:52 PM
The literal interpretation of rubato and the supposed extension of that interpretation suggests that whatever amount you slow down in a phrase of a piece somehow must be made up by an appreciative amount of speeding up elsewhere to "reset the clock," as it were. This idea has surfaced from time to time in this forum. Such a notion seems totally preposterous to me and out of all sense of attention to what the music may require.

Eleanor Bailie* devotes two long pages (pp. 24-26) on the idea of rubato in Chopin which is worth reading. Her opening sentences give the gist:

Tempo rubato is a ticklish subject at the best of times - the pity is that instead of being understood as a naturally arising slight rhythmic elasticity, it has been placed in a separate box - ground for endless discussion among professionals, and the cause of a kind of bewildered embarrassment among 'ordinary' players. In the case of Chopin, the whole matter has got out of proportion. We know that Chopin was a stickler for rhythmic exactitude, but we also have numerous and often poetic accounts of his own tempo rubato, which have been interpreted by generations of pianists as a licence for a rhythmic free-for-all - the most sentimentalising and vulgarising of all the falsification to which the spirit of his music has been subjected. Players are thus left floundering in a mire of learned controversy.

"Learned controversy" indeed! The remaining paragraphs are well worth reading by anyone who is interested in the question of rubato, particularly in - but not limited to - the music of Chopin.

* Bailie, Eleanor. The Pianist's Repertoire. Chopin, A Graded Practical Guide. Kahn & Averill, London, 1998.

Regards,
Although playing rubato seems quite natural at times, I believe it is quite a complicated subject and does not always indicate a change in the overall speed / timing of the piece. For example, the right hand can be played rubato over a fixed tempo left hand - quite a common technique, I believe, and of course the parts of a bar can be speeded up and slowed to retain the overall timing, the latter of course does interrupt the 'pulse' but not the overall timing of the piece.
I must admit, unless of course it is for dancing to, I'm happier with 'beautiful sound and overall effect' than 'perfect rhythm' provided, of course, the lack of perfect rhythm doesn't detract from the piece - which, if the piece has 'beautiful sound and overall effect ,' logically it shouldn't.
It is annoying, though, when pieces slow down / accelerate / pause for dramatic effect where the music really doesn't warrant it. That really ruins the flow.
Originally Posted by petebfrance
Although playing rubato seems quite natural at times, I believe it is quite a complicated subject and does not always indicate a change in the overall speed / timing of the piece. For example, the right hand can be played rubato over a fixed tempo left hand - quite a common technique, I believe, and of course the parts of a bar can be speeded up and slowed to retain the overall timing, the latter of course does interrupt the 'pulse' but not the overall timing of the piece.
About the only time I think what you talk about might be done is in some brief fioritura passage in Chopin or Liszt. Something like a few passages in Chopin Nocturnes Op. 15 No.2. Even there it's more a function of the fact that it would be silly or impossible to play the RH fioritura in perfect time.

I think in more than 99% of the examples of rubato by top pianists, both hands slow down or speed up together.
I must add regarding the rubato, that I dislike when there is too much of it. I think there is a rhythmical tension in music that is somewhat similar to harmonic tension. If you establish a key firmly, there is a greater craving for tonic than when you modulate all the time. It seems the same with rubato, if you hold a steady rhythm most of the time, there is a greater craving for it and the effect of rhytmical tension of rubato is stronger.
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I must add regarding the rubato, that I dislike when there is too much of it.
One person's too much rubato can be another person's appropriate amount of rubato or even not enough rubato.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As you can see in the part I bolded it wasn't my idea that the "pianist sits with the calculator counting beats", i.e must exactly balance any time lost with time gained, but it was the idea of the person whose post I commented on.

No. Not my idea at all. When I realized you misunderstood me, I said to just forget it. Just call me a bad writer.
Originally Posted by daoc2009
what would you prefer,
a performance full of life, beautiful 'magic' sound and subtle nuances and over all effect on a high level with some minor ish rhythm in accuracies vs

This is describing a pianist like Alfred Cortot (who famously said "I play more wrong notes than anybody else; I also play more right notes than anybody else!") or even Horowitz who was rarely ever note perfect or adhered completely to the score but had terrific magic to his playing.

Originally Posted by daoc2009
a performance where the rhythm is 100 percent spot on but the overall playing is dull and uninspiring, sound is plain and lifeless.

This is describing a pianist like Murray Perahia or Marc-Andre Hamelin who is scrupulous with his notes but rigid and sometimes "too clean" in performance.

However even then this description is inaccurate. No pianist like Perahia or Hamelin who reaches a level where they can play 100% correct rhythm/notes lacks the technique to create a beautiful sound if they wished. Of course Perahia and Hamelin are capable of great beauty but their style is just veered a bit towards the sterile side.

Personally I enjoy both kinds of pianists and many pianists in between. Also, it's a bit of a loaded question since who would prefer a "dull" pianist over a "magical" one? The dull one is by default the lesser option! Thankfully there are very few famous pianists who are truly dull.
Originally Posted by achoo42
This is describing a pianist like Murray Perahia or Marc-Andre Hamelin who is scrupulous with his notes but rigid and sometimes "too clean" in performance.

Of course Perahia and Hamelin are capable of great beauty but their style is just veered a bit towards the sterile side.

I would not describe Perahia as clean or sterile. He has more of a classical approach, more balanced than others, maybe less excessive but certainly not clean nor sterile. His Goldberg are probably one of the top recordings ever made, a wonderful and very sensitive version but not overly sentimental.

I have not listened much of Hamelin, so i wont comment. I think there are other pianists who are occasionally sterile in some pieces by being constantly excessive. We are all more or less sensitive to a certain style of playing which we may like or dislike, but honnestly i dont know any top pianist, including those i dont like like VL, which i would say is constantly sterile. Top pianists can completely miss a particular piece, or be less at ease with certain composers, sometimes their playing is purposeless or unstructured but sterile is a qualifier i would not use.
The choice posed in the title and first post on the thread is a completely false choice. There is no reason to choose between excellent rhythm(but no great pianist plays metronomically which is what the OP seems to mean) and qualities like"beautiful sounds, subtle nuances,"etc. and no great pianist makes that choice. Nor should a pianist at any level think they should make that choice.
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