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I had no idea how to phrase this differently.

What is something that you hear almost every pianist do in a certain piece, that pisses you off, or irritates you?

For me, it's everyone rushing through the "Appassionato possibile" arpeggios in the climax of the Liszt Norma paraphrase. Not just random pianists; great pianists.

Why, why, WHY is it necessary to rush through the most powerful moment (well, moments, because it happens twice) in the piece at 2x the speed than before? Why??? (Tozer does it the least, and I love him for that. William Wolfram, as far as I can remember, is also tremendous in this piece; his interpretations of Liszt paraphrases are divine.)

Anyway; i'm interested to see what everyone else's (or someone else's) pet peeves are.

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I wouldn't call it a "pet peeve" but I am aware - and not impressed when it's overdone - that some pianists are inclined to play the left hand a fraction before the right hand, even though both should come together, particularly on the beat. This happens more often in Romantic literature and, at times, can actually be effective when used quite sparingly. When overdone, it becomes a slightly annoying mannerism.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
I wouldn't call it a "pet peeve" but I am aware - and not impressed when it's overdone - that some pianists are inclined to play the left hand a fraction before the right hand, even though both should come together, particularly on the beat. This happens more often in Romantic literature and, at times, can actually be effective when used quite sparingly. When overdone, it becomes a slightly annoying mannerism.
Are you thinking of pianists playing before the public now or mostly those from an earlier generation?

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I have a particular piece of music in mind, and I only really enjoy Pollini's interpretation of it. Brendel, for example, and he is not alone, ruins it. But I think this is highly personal.

I am also getting more and more annoyed with cloying sentimentality. I'm impressed when a performer maintains a near-danceable feel while also doing justice to the emotional content. I guess restraint is what I'm talking about.


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I do not like when people play too slowly. I tend to like tempos that are on the more aggressive side. I’m not saying that everything needs to be at breakneck speed, but I don’t like when things drag if that makes sense.

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Not enough 'dotting' of the dotted rhythms in the first section of Chopin's Fantaisie in F minor.

Most people don't even not-dot them enough; they play them as though they were flat-out triplets.

I know that some people think that's what the dotting means....

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........Having just held forth about a thing not being taken literally enough, here's one about a thing which IMO is taken too literally.
Or actually, I should say, too simplistically literally:

Playing the staccatos in the opening of Beethoven's 4th Concerto too much like staccato stacattos.

I don't think they are.

Like, this is with staccato staccatos, i.e. "wrong" (IMO), or maybe I should just put it this way: I don't like it. grin



(Ouch!!!!!!)


.....and here it is, "right," even though it's GLENN GOULD (for Chrissake!) playing it not "staccato staccato" -- Glenn Gould, of all people:



......although I could do without him playing it so FORTE.
I mean, looks to me like it says "p" and "dolce," but maybe that's just me. grin


Here's someone who 'doesn't do a bad job' putting it all together grin .....maybe another irony, what with the gentle staccato and the softer dynamic: It's Lang Lang.


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I dislike that in the Rondo movement of Beethoven's 'Waldstein' sonata, most pianists ignore the "Alegretto Moderato" marking and play it at a rushed, allegro tempo. This results in a horrid Cm episode that is blurred and the drama is diminished. Additionally, the prestissimo coda must be played at a ridiculous speed if it is to be as surprising as Beethoven likely intended it to be.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by BruceD
I wouldn't call it a "pet peeve" but I am aware - and not impressed when it's overdone - that some pianists are inclined to play the left hand a fraction before the right hand, even though both should come together, particularly on the beat. This happens more often in Romantic literature and, at times, can actually be effective when used quite sparingly. When overdone, it becomes a slightly annoying mannerism.
Are you thinking of pianists playing before the public now or mostly those from an earlier generation?

I am thinking of current generation pianists doing this. I realize that into the early part of the twentieth century this was an accepted performance practice, so it needs to be tolerated as such in its historical context.

Regards,


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Pointing at myself, I can sometimes rubato too much, and particularly when listening to a recording of my playing think "grrr...that is not an interpretation I enjoy hearing". So, work on taking some of that out.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[quote=BruceD]I wouldn't call it a "pet peeve" but I am aware - and not impressed when it's overdone - that some pianists are inclined to play the left hand a fraction before the right hand, even though both should come together, particularly on the beat. This happens more often in Romantic literature and, at times, can actually be effective when used quite sparingly. When overdone, it becomes a slightly annoying mannerism.
Are you thinking of pianists playing before the public now or mostly those from an earlier generation?
I'm curious which present day pianist you feel do this LH before RH. I haven't really noticed it for this group of pianists although if a pianists does it only very occasionally I may not realize it.

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Tearing through a Joplin rag at breakneck speed. A few of them work at a pretty hot pace but most of them are better if you dial it back a bit and let the melodies sing.

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And the LH before RH idea, I noticed that on a recording of Rachmaninoff himself playing his Elegie Op 3 no 1. It adds a subtle textural dimension. He makes it work beautifully, but of course he's Rachmaninoff.

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At the end of the first movement of Saint-Saëns's 2nd piano concerto nearly nobody respects the rests and hurries towards the end.
At the beginning of Beethoven's op.111 nearly nobody seems to be able to count.
A lot of 'pianoplayers' try to improve on Liszt's sonata by adding bass octaves.
The same people play Bach with pedal.
'Allegretto' is mostly taken 'Presto' in the Passepied in Debussy's Suite Bergamasque.
In Chopin's 3rd Scherzo, 2nd theme, after the last note of the 'choral', nearly everybody starts one beat to late with the downward cascade.
In Liszt's Mazeppa, most play the melody, forgetting about the thirds in between: the horses hooves, the essence of the piece.
Not playing the repeats in Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven/Schubert is a common mistake.
The rhythm in Chopin's 3rd Ballade's main theme is not: ta-Boum ta-Boum ta-Boum, but the reverse, never done.
I won't go on, to many pet peeves.


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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
The rhythm in Chopin's 3rd Ballade's main theme is not: ta-Boum ta-Boum ta-Boum, but the reverse, never done.

Well actually that is the "rhythm"!

I guess you mean it's not the "phrasing" -- and I agree with that.
But, I do usually hear it done that way -- i.e. the way I assume you mean it should be.
And when I've played it, I sure did.
Unfortunately I didn't do too much else..... ha

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Originally Posted by BruceD
I wouldn't call it a "pet peeve" but I am aware - and not impressed when it's overdone - that some pianists are inclined to play the left hand a fraction before the right hand, even though both should come together, particularly on the beat. This happens more often in Romantic literature and, at times, can actually be effective when used quite sparingly. When overdone, it becomes a slightly annoying mannerism.

Regards,

Questions regarding the "golden era" mannerism of left hand playing before right hand:

Do have to admit as long time advanced amateur pianist -- going to be turning 62 this month -- have somehow acquired this habit of the broken hands in my own playing over many years but was never really aware of doing it until it was pointed out to me in my recordings -- although take note I have never done this DELIBERATELY as a pianistic "effect" -- therefore, why exactly does this happen?

Here is my most recent recording of Chopin's Ballade No. 4 and one will hear this mannerism in the playing. I happen to have mostly Polish ancestry (i.e., like Paderewski and Chopin) and many of the older "golden era" pianists which include Paderewski have been noted for breaking the hands. Could this somehow be an ancestral and/or genetic fault that has carried over through the years?

Here is my recording and I do NOT deliberately or consciously make any decision to break the hands even though it is quite evident that I am actually doing so in many places:

https://fidbak.audio/grandbb71/player/31c8d859b116/e4731f5625ac

I consider it to be a rather strange and/or odd "habit" as such!

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Desynchronizing the right hand is actually a very old practice. Mozart mentions it already in the context of letting the right hand freely move against the regular beat pattern of the left hand. I think we have become way too metronomically rigid in the way both hands are necessarily aligned. As long as it does not become a mannerism, 8t can add a lof of expressiveness to a melodic line.

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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Not playing the repeats in Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven/Schubert is a common mistake.

Yes! I agree. As an example, take the 3rd movement of Haydn's Hob XVI/49. In my view Alfred Brendel ruins his performance of this by omitting the repeat of bars 61-68, when the theme moves into the minor. This section is in effect an exposition of the new minor tonality, and it needs its repeat. See here at 20.06.

What though about repeats of the development + recapitulation in typical sonata movements? They seem to be hardly ever played.

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I hate cliched use of rubato to "convey emotion". Of course I don't know the pianist's intentions, but when it gets to the point where the pulse of the piece is difficult to ascertain, I assume self-indulgence is the reason.

Rigid playing can be dreadful, but I usually think it's more pointless than irritating.

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Anything played too fast. I'm thinking especially of the 3d movement of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata. I know it's marked presto, but I hear a lot of prestissimo, so that you can't even really hear those dramatic repeated chords at the top of the opening runs.


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Originally Posted by jdw
Anything played too fast. I'm thinking especially of the 3d movement of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata. I know it's marked presto, but I hear a lot of prestissimo, so that you can't even really hear those dramatic repeated chords at the top of the opening runs.
There is no clear dividing line between presto and prestissimo. You may think a performance is too fast, but I think that's a different thing.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by jdw
Anything played too fast. I'm thinking especially of the 3d movement of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata. I know it's marked presto, but I hear a lot of prestissimo, so that you can't even really hear those dramatic repeated chords at the top of the opening runs.
There is no clear dividing line between presto and prestissimo. You may think a performance is too fast, but I think that's a different thing.

Well, of course, but obviously the point is that I think they're too fast. IMO you're pointing to a distinction without a difference. There's no clear dividing line between any of the tempo terms but we still use them to suggest differences in tempo.


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Originally Posted by BruceD
I wouldn't call it a "pet peeve" but I am aware - and not impressed when it's overdone - that some pianists are inclined to play the left hand a fraction before the right hand, even though both should come together, particularly on the beat. This happens more often in Romantic literature and, at times, can actually be effective when used quite sparingly. When overdone, it becomes a slightly annoying mannerism.

Regards,

In some schools of playing, pre-WW2 especially, this was regarded as correct. Mikuli writes about how Chopin taught it, Thalberg writes about it although he believed that it should be almost imperceptible. Leschetiszky does it, Rachmaninoff does it especially in Chopin, Horowitz did it all the time, even Mozart wrote about this kind of rubato.

The pet peeve for me is more that a lot of individuality in phrasing has been washed out of today's pianists.

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Regarding LH before RH playing, for me its all a question of degree meaning how often and how big a space between LH and RH. Even for Horowitz and Rachmaninov I don't notice it much except if I'm listening for it, and those examples would be kind of near my limit for what I find OK. There are examples of earlier pianists(Paderewski and others I can't recall) where the asynchronization is done MUCH more frequently and with a bigger space between the two hands and for composers of all periods, and that kind of playing drives me nuts. I find that I occasionally play LH before RH although I'm not sure if I do just out of carelessness or because I really prefer it.

I wonder if any of today's top pianists or contestants in major competitions occasionally play LH before RH? Anyone have any examples for contemporary pianists?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Regarding LH before RH playing, for me its all a question of degree meaning how often and how big a space between LH and RH. Even for Horowitz and Rachmaninov I don't notice it much except if I'm listening for it, and those examples would be kind of near my limit for what I find OK. There are examples of earlier pianists(Paderewski and others I can't recall) where the asynchronization is done MUCH more frequently and with a bigger space between the two hands and for composers of all periods, and that kind of playing drives me nuts. I find that I occasionally play LH before RH although I'm not sure if I do just out of carelessness or because I really prefer it.

I wonder if any of today's top pianists or contestants in major competitions occasionally play LH before RH? Anyone have any examples for contemporary pianists?

I think it probably does happen but much less often. I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA, using Liszt's pupils, and Rachmaninoff as examples, but also looking at other pianists from that era. So far I haven't made any major conclusions except that the displacement of notes was done far more often back then, and that there wasn't only one school of playing. For example Schnabel did it far less often, and granted he played a particular repertoire, but it's notable nonetheless. Actually his slow movement of the Pathetique is quite a bit less rigid than we find today, not that I would call any famous pianist of today rigid, and especially not in an academic paper, apart from it being insulting it would also be wrong.

There was a lot of things influenced the piano playing of post-WW2 including the advent of recording itself, the early recording artists were playing in their live style, while later it became important to make the cleanest performance of a work that one could, and that spilled over into live performance practice. I think the influence of the USSR and the rise of the Russian virtuoso from that system can't be overlooked, and I've a few friends who were raised in the USSR who have said to me that yes, the Soviet pianists were incredibly well, it was the best system in the world for training pianists at that time (possibly still is? I don't know!), but that the Soviet penchant for uniformity in their artists which allowed major competition wins actually damaged a lot of individuality and musicianship. That would be hard to prove in a dissertation without primary sources so it may become a footnote if I mention it at all, but it's fair to say in a forum which is not peer-reviewed!

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA....

How about that, folks!! thumb

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA....

How about that, folks!! thumb

I've yet to defend it.... or even write it yet, let's see how it turns out! I'm backing it up with a recording of Liszt and Rachmaninoff done in the old style. This could either be very good or turn out extremely badly......

No I'm remaining positive......

Ugh what have I got myself into....

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
... I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA, using Liszt's pupils, and Rachmaninoff as examples, but also looking at other pianists from that era. ...

I am sure you are aware of this essay (mentioned in "Chopin's Prophet")

https://www.lib.umd.edu/binaries/co...t-hands-together-article-pdf-5-15-12.pdf

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Joseph: Maybe don't forget Vladimir de Pachmann!!

He's a treat -- in that regard and many others.

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Originally Posted by newport
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
... I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA, using Liszt's pupils, and Rachmaninoff as examples, but also looking at other pianists from that era. ...

I am sure you are aware of this essay (mentioned in "Chopin's Prophet")

https://www.lib.umd.edu/binaries/co...t-hands-together-article-pdf-5-15-12.pdf

I think I love you. Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Mark_C


YESSSSSS! Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA....
I think that should be quite interesting. I remember going to the Juilliard bookstore maybe 40 years ago and in the record section there was a tiny subsection on historical performances. But now you can probably listen to many thousands on YT so you have a lot more source material.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA....
I think that should be quite interesting. I remember going to the Juilliard bookstore maybe 40 years ago and in the record section there was a tiny subsection on historical performances. But now you can probably listen to many thousands on YT so you have a lot more source material.

Yes, and in fact the area of historically informed performance practice that gets least attention is that to which we can actually listen. We don't need to wonder how Rachmaninoff might have played his music because we can hear it, and in other pianists we can hear the parameters of what he accepted. We don't know how Liszt played, but we know how his students played. We know a little of how Leschetizky played from piano roll recordings and that's important because of his connection with Czerny. We know how Grieg played, we know how Debussy played, and yet these performances have often been overlooked as mere curiosity.

There's a lot more interest in the style now. My recording will be of the first Rachmaninoff sonata which was basically abandoned until John Ogdon recorded it in 1968, but there's no historical recording by Rachmaninoff or even Horowitz. I'm going to make an attempt to reconstruct what might have been heard had it been recorded before WW2. I'm going to do the same with the Liszt B minor because although we have two piano rolls (by Arthur Friedheim and Emil Von Sauer) and one recording of Horowitz from 1932, we have no *acoustic* recordings of the Liszt sonata in the old style of playing.

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Hi Joseph
What a unique, exciting project! I hope you will share the results 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
The rhythm in Chopin's 3rd Ballade's main theme is not: ta-Boum ta-Boum ta-Boum, but the reverse, never done.

Well actually that is the "rhythm"!

I guess you mean it's not the "phrasing" -- and I agree with that.
But, I do usually hear it done that way -- i.e. the way I assume you mean it should be.
And when I've played it, I sure did.
Unfortunately I didn't do too much else..... ha

I prefer it:

YA-da YA-da YA-da YA-di-da-ta-di-da YA-da YA-da ....


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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Not enough 'dotting' of the dotted rhythms in the first section of Chopin's Fantaisie in F minor.

Most people don't even not-dot them enough; they play them as though they were flat-out triplets.

I know that some people think that's what the dotting means....

I agree, and I would extend that to almost any dotted rhythm.

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
I prefer it:

YA-da YA-da YA-da YA-di-da-ta-di-da YA-da YA-da ....

Yes -- that's what he and I were saying.
Or trying to say. grin

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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
I agree, and I would extend that to almost any dotted rhythm.

Me too -- to the point that I feel guilty when I occasionally think that the dotting does mean basically triplets!

Example, albeit not a classical one, nor a piano piece (not really):

Battle Hymn of the Republic (which, BTW -- did y'all know? I didn't -- was written by a woman!) is usually shown as a dotted rhythm -- despite which, I've always imagined it as triplets. In fact, back in the grade school days, I played it every week for "assembly," and never considered playing it any way besides that. Never really thought about, never thought "hey, it's written 'dotted' but I'm doing it as triplets" -- I just automatically did it as triplets.

Any classical pieces??
None that I can think of offhand.


P.S. My wife just asked, what is it that made me run so fast to the laptop to be posting about grin ....and so I told her, including about the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
She said she thinks that really should be dotted too. ha

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
[...]
She said she thinks that really should be dotted too. ha

We're all a little dotty, just by being here! smile


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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Not enough 'dotting' of the dotted rhythms in the first section of Chopin's Fantaisie in F minor.

Most people don't even not-dot them enough; they play them as though they were flat-out triplets.

I know that some people think that's what the dotting means....

I agree, and I would extend that to almost any dotted rhythm.

There are baroque composers who intended a triplet rhythm when using the notation.

Louis-Claude Daquin's Swiss Noel is an example. It clearly is not intended as 4 against 3.

http://forums.pianoworld.com/ubbthr...core-extract.html#lg=3019622&slide=0

Last edited by Sweelinck; 05/12/21 03:25 AM.

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I do the asynchronized hand thing, mostly because I am almost always playing something romantic and I'm trying to curb it because it has a schmaltzy tendency. But I have noticed I tend to do it when I want to add emphasis but don't want to do it through volume.

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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Not enough 'dotting' of the dotted rhythms in the first section of Chopin's Fantaisie in F minor.

Most people don't even not-dot them enough; they play them as though they were flat-out triplets.

I know that some people think that's what the dotting means....

I agree, and I would extend that to almost any dotted rhythm.

Prokofiev's Montegues and Capulets gets this treatment alllll the time. Those crisp dotted rhythms get dulled out to a soft triplet.

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Obviously this isn't a piece that I think too many people have studied since the turn of this century - but listening to the few recorded interpretations available of one of my favorite pieces, the MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, almost everyone makes the same mistake.

MacDowell, almost completely literally, copies a motif from the end of the opening cadenza of the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, and places it in the middle of the first [of three] cadenzas for the piano.

Sanroma holds the notes, which are written with fermatas, to let you know, that Saint-Saëns was the source of inspiration for the motif. (See 1:22)



Watts on the other hand... (See 1:36)



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Pianists who overpedal classical music (e.g. Mozart). It drives me nuts!


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Originally Posted by twocats
Pianists who overpedal classical music (e.g. Mozart). It drives me nuts!

Hehe, in a similar vein, pianists who overpedal Bach drive me to drink! Literally and figuratively!

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Pianists who play too loud while they accompany a soloist.

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
I'm doing a dissertation on this for my DMA....

How about that, folks!! thumb

I've yet to defend it.... or even write it yet, let's see how it turns out! I'm backing it up with a recording of Liszt and Rachmaninoff done in the old style. This could either be very good or turn out extremely badly......

No I'm remaining positive......

Ugh what have I got myself into....

I believe Chopin wrote or said something like that rubato should be done by the right hand with the left hand as conductor.


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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
I believe Chopin wrote or said something like that rubato should be done by the right hand with the left hand as conductor.

That left hand better be dang good.


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It's quite liberating (and enjoyable) to play as Chopin commanded, the RH roaming free like a bird (as it were) while the LH plays in strict time, the two hands only meeting up very occasionally, like long-lost relatives finding each other across the oceans via FB. (I'm not on social media, but I've been reliably informed that does happen).
That of course, is the impression one wants to give in his Berceuse.

The only problem is that Chopin himself never played like that. After all, we know that he didn't realize he couldn't keep time in his own Mazurkas, so almost certainly, his LH was following his RH like an obedient dog, even though he thought it was off the leash and trotting along to its own strict beat.....


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It drives me nuts to listen to Bach that is bereft of emotion. I don’t know how people decided that Bach should be played like a computer.

Here’s how Bach prefaced the Inventions (not sure who did the translation though):

Quote
Forthright instruction, wherewith lovers of the clavier, especially those desirous of learning, are shown in a clear way not only 1) to learn to play two voices clearly, but also after further progress 2) to deal correctly and well with three obbligato parts, moreover at the same time to obtain not only good ideas, but also to carry them out well, but most of all to achieve a cantabile style of playing, and thereby to acquire a strong foretaste of composition.

I’m pretty sure Bach had emotions 😀 And people from the Baroque era were not robots. Feel free to disagree.


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In the following article, the author uses the term "contrametric rubato" for when the left hand stays at least close to strict time, and "agogic rubato" for when all parts participate in the rhythmic liberty. The author uses the term "splitting the hands" for decoupling the timing of the left and right hands for notes scored on the beats, and suggests that may have grown from contrametric rubato, which the author traces back to at least 1596.

https://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1123&context=ppr


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People who argue about how to play Bach on the piano.

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