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Lang Lang and flame wars go together like winter and head colds.

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It's not the first time that we've run on about Lang Lang, is it?


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Yeah, the subject kind of oozes out every week or so.

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And nary a one agrees.


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The two of you need to stuff a kleenex in it. I think the guy is a fantastic with his fingers - nothing to sneeze at if you ask me.


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Well, like I said he can play well when he wants to - as that Youtube clip attests to. He looked like he took a couple hits of Benadryl before going on stage. Anyway, the audiences always seems to get out their handkerchiefs for him.

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Indeed Lang Lang seems highly flamable,

I regret bringing the subject up! :P

Phlebas,

No worries smile


"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

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Funny, that Chopin may be the first thing of his I've heard that I really sort of liked, in spite of the bravura getting a bit out of hand. I think I see why many musicians think he has "it", because he has the ability to do some musical spell-casting.

But the Rach from the Proms - nope, don't like. I heard part of the broadcast of that whole recital on the BBC and after a few minutes realized I just couldn't deal with it. But that's me - he is free to play however he wants (and we are free to say we think it is awful).

I don't buy into absolute score fidelity as the only possible ideal that all performers should follow, even though I know hordes of players, teachers, and students do think that (and many play beautifully, following that creed). But it seems to me that there are all sorts of people with various temperaments and backgrounds performing classical music, and the best thing a performer can do is to be as true to their musical self as they can be, and for some that may mean following their muse off the straight and narrow of the score and into the thickets of imagination and inspiration.

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Originally Posted by wr
But it seems to me that there are all sorts of people with various temperaments and backgrounds performing classical music, and the best thing a performer can do is to be as true to their musical self as they can be, and for some that may mean following their muse off the straight and narrow of the score and into the thickets of imagination and inspiration.


Being true to the score in no way precludes "imagination and inspiration". Virtually every great pianist in the last 80 years was true to the score and had incredible "imagination adn inspiration".

"Imagination and inspiration" do not, in classical music, mean do whatever you feel like.

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Anyone says that Chopin can't be jazzy should watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rosYAcJ7zyA


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Originally Posted by xtraheat
Anyone says that Chopin can't be jazzy should watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rosYAcJ7zyA


The melody Chopin wrote is used for a jazz improvisation. I wouldn't call that Chopin being jazzy. Any melody can be used for a jazz improvisation.

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I guess it wouldn't be a crime to slightly change some of the notes, e.g. in Rach's 23/5. After all, music is about interpretation not copying.


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Originally Posted by Drunk3nFist
I guess it wouldn't be a crime to slightly change some of the notes, e.g. in Rach's 23/5. After all, music is about interpretation not copying.


In the tradition of classical music performance, it isn't about "chang[ing] some of the notes" which would, indeed, be considered "a crime" - to use your word. Why would you want to change what Rachmaninoff has written? Interpretation comes from how you play what Rachmaninoff has written, not in how you change his score.

Would you accent an actor changing some of Shakespeare's words in performance - for whatever reason - as being "about interpretation and not copying"?

In either musical or dramatic scenarios, the accepted practice is to play/say what was originally written. You may not like it, you may not even agree with it, but that's the way it is in the world of classical arts. Anything other than what is written becomes an adaptation, an arrangement or an "inspired by ...."

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The best teacher gives his/her students "hints" and "suggestions", not strict instructions to follow.

Are what's on the score (often embellished by people other than the composers themselves) strict instructions or hints and suggestions? If the former, why the double standards?

What's original? Given the composers a second chance, would they not change a single thing?

And what's the point of art and music? (... Yes, I am all too familiar with the notiton that "submission" will gain you "total freedom", and I believe it too. So I understand.)

(Btw, personally, I perfer a more subtle interpretation of this piece in some places. But there are good qualities. LL was "on" in this performance.)

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Originally Posted by newport
The best teacher gives his/her students "hints" and "suggestions", not strict instructions to follow.

Are what's on the score (often embellished by people other than the composers themselves) strict instructions or hints and suggestions? If the former, why the double standards?

(Btw, personally, I perfer a more subtle interpretation of this piece in some places. But there are good qualities. LL was "on" in this performance.)


At an advanced level, a teacher *may* sometimes only *suggest* an interpretation(rather than just telling a student what to do) because there are many ways to play a piece and the teacher understands the pupil may be ready for his own interpretation. Once again, that does not mean ignoring the composer's instructions.

You use the phrase "strict instructions" as if this was bad and means there is only one way to play a piece. If this was true, then how can it be that so many great pianists play works differently? There is a range of interpretation, phrasing, rubato, choice of tempo etc. that's reasonable and does not contradict what the composer wrote. Anything outside this is saying you know more than composer about how the piece should be played or are musically deficient. It is arrogant, invalid, and why many professional pianists find many of LL's performances musically less than satisfying.

LL very often puts himself above the music. His appeal is his showmanship and has nothing to do with "originality".

If LL was "on" in this performance, I cringe to think what his "off" playing would be like.


Have you listened to other Youtube performances with the score as I suggested?

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My only question at this point: are there ever an arrogant composer?

Why is it wrong to put oneself above the music?

Why is that wrong???

Is music above us are we above music???

Are we here to express music or is the music there to express us?

(I have listened to many performances of this piece. I know what I like. Music is not above me.)

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I strongly dislike Lang Lang's arrogant personality, and I havnt seem better performances from him then other Pianists on youtube - He is talented, but very very overrated and there are far better Pianists out there, I just dont remember any of their names because they arent as easy to read or remember as Lang Lang.

Personality always determines a persons likability, people who are humble or charismatic are far more likeable to me then loudness and arrogance.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Drunk3nFist
I guess it wouldn't be a crime to slightly change some of the notes, e.g. in Rach's 23/5. After all, music is about interpretation not copying.


In the tradition of classical music performance, it isn't about "chang[ing] some of the notes" which would, indeed, be considered "a crime" - to use your word. Why would you want to change what Rachmaninoff has written? Interpretation comes from how you play what Rachmaninoff has written, not in how you change his score.



Actually, that attitude is a fairly recent development in classical music, and it is not universal. And there's no particular reason that it will prevail into the future. I think there's a good probability that as musicians become more and more aware of performance practice, and more is published on that subject, "loose" interpretation of a score will become much more common and accepted, particularly for music from the Romantic era. Many pianist-composers of the 19th century would have expected a performer of their music to personalize it with changes like added notes and virtuoso flourishes, because that is what performers did at the time (which is not the same as saying they would always like it). It could be argued that if a pianist doesn't do that kind of thing, they aren't being true to the spirit of the music (one interesting holdover from that era is still common, which is the Chopin Scherzo where pianists frequently take the final ascending run in interlocking octaves instead of the scale as written).

Speaking of Chopin, he frequently improvised flourishes and fiorature when playing, not unlike what the opera singers he so admired did when singing. And he would write alternate embellishments into the music of his students. Just that alone tells us he was not true to his own scores. You might say that doesn't necessarily mean that other people should have the same freedom to improvise on a score as Chopin, but you can't say that the composer himself saw the score as cast in stone.

Besides, there are practical reasons to change notes, and many pianists do it. How many pianists actually play the opening bars of the Rach 2 as written, for example? And Albeniz's Iberia is literally unplayable as written, which forces the pianist to change things around (it is an eye-opener to listen to de Larrocha's recordings while following the score).

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I agree with much/most of what has been said against LL in this thread, and I agree that his interpretation of that particular Chopin Etude was highly individual, and does not correspond with even a very loose reading of a lot of what Chopin wrote, or what performing convention has dictated over the years. This is all of course listening to it as a pianist who is very familiar with the work in question, numerous other recordings and performances by professional pianists, and as one who often makes his own attempt at it too smile

All that said, I would imagine that many lay(wo)men in the audience would have greatly enjoyed his performance. It had variety in tone, colour, tempo and emotion, and was (in its own way) quite evocative. I doubt these people in the audience thought it was sloppy or dull. To borrow one of Bruce's phrases above, it could have been more accurately described as being inspired by Chopin Op10 No3.

Then again, some of what Gould and Pogorelic (to take just two examples) have come out with in the past could be similarly described, in terms of how wide of the mark many of their interpretations are, when compared to what is evidently indicated in the score and/or has come to be playing convention. Such things are not necessarily to my personal tastes, but I am not entirely convinced that they are without worth or value, depending on the attitude/experience/prejudices/etc of the listener.

Michael B.


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And Horowitz is perhaps the greatest (or at least best-known) exponent of that Romantic mindset from the 20th Century. Unlike LL, though, when Horowitz deviates from the score in his performance practice (Or changes something. Don't know if LL does any of that), it usually sounds like it has a distinct musical purpose. Though his Liszt Mephisto Waltz is certainly arguable on that front. LL comes off, as others have pointed out, as merely doing the "bravura" for the showoff factor.


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