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Hi,

My son is preparing for a solo recital, probably lasting about 1.5 hours. His current repertoire is as follows:

1. Liszt Reminiscence de Norma
2. Liszt Transcendental Etude "Eroica"
3. Chopin Fantasie Op59
4. Chopin Ballade #4
5. Chopin Mazurkas Op 59
6. Prokofiev Toccata
7. Bach Toccata BWV 916 in G major
8. Beethoven Sonata Op 31 No 3 "The Hunt"
9. Ravel Valses Nobles et Sentimentales

The audience will just be normal people with no or very limited classical background so its just for fun. Is there anything I should remove from the list above that might bore the audience?

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Don't worry - the music won't send anyone to sleep, as long as he gives all the crash-bang-wallop in them their due. thumb


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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My first reaction given that the recital is for "normal people with no or very limited classical background," is that one and a half hours of music is too long. I think that there should be no more than one hour of music; even five minutes or so less would be more welcome to an unsophisticated audience.

Your son needs to take this into account and also choose among the pieces in his repertoire those selections that might hold the interest of a general public audience.

The Bach Toccata, the Chopin Mazurkas, the Prokofiev Toccata and the Ravel Valses nobles et sentimentales would be possible candidates for such an audience and whatever else might help fill in up to - but no more than - one hour of music.

That's just one opinion, of course; there may be differing opinions offered.

Regards,


BruceD
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xtype10 Offline OP
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Thank you good points indeed. Yes I am one of those "normal people with very limited classical background" and when I listened to all the pieces the ones that really bored me were the Mazurkas and Valses sentimentales, but what do i know.

I think you're right maybe reducing the program by 15 min or so may be the best thing. There will be about 100-120 people so I don't want to cut it too short either.

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One and a half hours seems way too long for an audience without a big interest in classical music. Very few solo recitals by major pianists last that long even though the audiences for those recitals would be more generally interested in classical music. Also, many of the pieces are quite lengthy which I don't think is a good choice for the expected audience.

What is the nature of the concert? I think an hour split into two parts with intermission might work better. OTOH, with covid around, an intermission when people like to talk is probably not a good idea.

He could also shorten the program by doing things like not playing repeats or playing only one or two Mazurkas. Another idea would be to reduce the number of long pieces(there are a lot of those) and play some shorter works in between the longer selections. Or cut parts of the Norma paraphrase. Or save one of the shorter pieces on the list for an encore.

I once took a long time friend who had never been to a classical concert to hear a program with Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Beethoven's PC #4 and one other piece. He is extremely intelligent but does not listen to classical. I thought he would like a program with two great masterpieces but he told me the music sounded like cacophony. So choose the length of the recital and particular pieces carefully!

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Originally Posted by xtype10
I think you're right maybe reducing the program by 15 min or so may be the best thing. There will be about 100-120 people so I don't want to cut it too short either.
The number of people should not determine the length of the recital in any way.

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Originally Posted by xtype10
Thank you good points indeed. Yes I am one of those "normal people with very limited classical background" and when I listened to all the pieces the ones that really bored me were the Mazurkas and Valses sentimentales, but what do i know.
I'm pretty abnormal (so I've been told) but those are the same works in the program that would bore me too (-no excitement, no tune worth whistling etc).

Gimme Liszt paraphrases & fireworks anytime......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Looking at that list, it feels like a massive programme for a recital. Has he played through all of it in a practice situation?

Perhaps consider trimming it a bit? Could consider something like:

Bach toccata
Beethoven Sonata

Intermission

Norma
Mazurkas
Toccata.

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I totally agree several of the pieces are very lengthy but its the required curriculum at his Conservatory so he won't have time to revisit his older, shorter repertoire.

He held his last recital about 5 months ago and it was just under an hour, at our home, and it was great. About 60 people showed up, masks and all. This time it will be held at a church and we will probably be renting a Steinway D.

I think we will just cut it at an hour with a 10 min intermission. Thanks for all the advice, appreciate it!

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Here is my suggestion:

Bach Toccata BWV 916 in G major (9 minutes)
Beethoven Sonata Op 31 No 3 "The Hunt" (23 minutes)

*** Intermission ***

Chopin Ballade #4 (11 minutes)
Liszt Reminiscence de Norma (17 minutes)
Prokofiev Toccata (5 minutes)

*** Bis ***

Liszt Transcendental Etude "Eroica" (5 minutes)

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Originally Posted by xtype10
I totally agree several of the pieces are very lengthy but its the required curriculum at his Conservatory so he won't have time to revisit his older, shorter repertoire.
It may be required curriculum but I doubt that means he's expected or encouraged to play them all in one recital. Is this a required recital for his piano major program or just a fun recital for some friends and family? I would avoid the 14 minute Norma paraphrase for its length.

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Originally Posted by xtype10
I totally agree several of the pieces are very lengthy but its the required curriculum at his Conservatory so he won't have time to revisit his older, shorter repertoire.
It may be required curriculum but I doubt that means he's expected or encouraged to play them all in one recital. Is this a required recital for his piano major program or just a fun recital for some friends and family? I would avoid the 14 minute Norma paraphrase for its length.

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I actually like that program. I was going to delete the Ravel, Mazurkas, and Fantasy (I actually like the Fantasy but I think it would be "boring" for the general person). Then next on the list would be Bach, just not too familiar with it.

Although the Norma is very long, I love this piece and think its very engaging so I was going to keep that one for sure.

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Its just a fun recital for mostly a church audience. It will be in the summer after he gets out of school. He received several requests to hold the recital so thats how this came about.

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Originally Posted by xtype10
I totally agree several of the pieces are very lengthy but its the required curriculum at his Conservatory so he won't have time to revisit his older, shorter repertoire.
It may be required curriculum but I doubt that means he's expected or encouraged to play them all in one recital. Is this a required recital for his piano major program or just a fun recital for some friends and family? I would avoid the 14 minute Norma paraphrase for its length.
Originally Posted by Hakki
Here is my suggestion:

Bach Toccata BWV 916 in G major (9 minutes)
Beethoven Sonata Op 31 No 3 "The Hunt" (23 minutes)

*** Intermission ***

Chopin Ballade #4 (11 minutes)
Liszt Reminiscence de Norma (17 minutes)
Prokofiev Toccata (5 minutes)

*** Bis ***

Liszt Transcendental Etude "Eroica" (5 minutes)
I like the first half but find the second too bombastic. I would replace the Norma by two Mazurkas or the Ravel and play the third Mazurka as an encore.

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Originally Posted by xtype10
I was going to delete the Ravel, Mazurkas, and Fantasy (I actually like the Fantasy but I think it would be "boring" for the general person). Then next on the list would be Bach, just not too familiar with it.

Although the Norma is very long, I love this piece and think its very engaging so I was going to keep that one for sure.
I perform a monthly half-hour recital for non-musical audiences (and have been doing so for a decade), for whom the vast majority (if not all) I am the first classical musician they will have seen (and possibly, will ever see) performing live, so I have a pretty good idea of what keeps their interest, because they come to me afterwards to chat about the music.

And it's not complex intricate music like the F minor Fantasy or Valse nobles that would interest them. It is flashy stuff peppered with nice tunes, and uncomplicated slower music, again with tunes and harmonies they can latch on to, and also highly rhythmic stuff with or without easy tunes, as long as there's something to catch the ear like snatches of folksy dance-like fragments (think Romanian Folk Dances, and With Drums & Pipes and The Chase from Out of Doors).

So I agree that if anything is to be deleted, it should be the ones you mentioned. Walt Disney was on to something when he had Tom & Jerry perform a Hungarian Rhapsody.......

If you have a regular following that you built up over time with mostly instantly appealing pieces, you can start introducing more abstruse stuff gradually (which I do) and they'll start to enjoy them too, but a one-off recital is something entirely different.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Thank you for your advice and since you have been giving recitals to non-musical audiences you definitely have a gauge on your audience. I love the flashy and rhythmic stuff as well although it may not be the most musically complex. Guess i'm not sophisticated enough to enjoy some of the more musically complex stuff.

In your opinion, do you think the Ballade 4 is too boring for the general audience? I love this piece because of the lyrical moments but can see how the general might get bored of it (except for the ending).

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Originally Posted by xtype10
In your opinion, do you think the Ballade 4 is too boring for the general audience? I love this piece because of the lyrical moments but can see how the general might get bored of it (except for the ending).
Yes, Ballade No.4 contains probably too much 'meandering' for a general audience, unlike No.2 which is much more likely to hold their interest.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Bach Toccata
Beethoven Sonata

Intermission

Chopin Mazurkas
Liszt Norma

I love Ballade 4, but I think the program should be limited to one big romantic powerhouse, and I would end the program with Norma based on the works listed. Prokofiev Toccata would go over great with the audience, but I’m not sure where to put it. End of first half, opening of second half?

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I would stick to 45 minutes or less, most adults are like children and can't sit still longer then 30 minutes.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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