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Astonishing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto


Stephen  Fine
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So, I started watching this and thought, "Ok, my idol has finally lost me.  This is just silly."  

But then, within minutes, she had me convinced that this is obviously what Tchaikovsky meant. I would describe the character as goofy. It's remarkable that no one else I can think of draws such a stark contrast between such clearly different musical ideas. She's discovered something new outside the typical tradition of performance.

When the third movement begins it makes much more sense structurally to me now as a return. Anyways... prepare yourselves.

 

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20 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

So, I started watching this and thought, "Ok, my idol has finally lost me.  This is just silly."  

But then, within minutes, she had me convinced that this is obviously what Tchaikovsky meant. I would describe the character as goofy. It's remarkable that no one else I can think of draws such a stark contrast between such clearly different musical ideas. She's discovered something new outside the typical tradition of performance.

When the third movement begins it makes much more sense structurally to me now as a return. Anyways... prepare yourselves.

 

I will listen, but before I do so, I want to ask if you have asked yourself how much of the appeal is aural and how much is visual.

Because I have not yet watched, I can’t answer the question and so I’m not baiting you, I’m just wondering.

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Oh gosh. The violin soloist just entered, my first thought was that the orchestra is a bit aggressive, but not in a bad way, but boy that first entrance… What is she doing?

More:

Some of her bowing and articulation choices are quite unorthodox. I am impressed that she has the skill to make these choices, and I can applaud her bravery without agreeing with her.

more: the passage at about 6:10 is blisteringly fast, and the repetition is equally fast and doesn’t change. Don’t see a purpose to such a fast tempo.

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

I will listen, but before I do so, I want to ask if you have asked yourself how much of the appeal is aural and how much is visual.

Because I have not yet watched, I can’t answer the question and so I’m not baiting you, I’m just wondering.

Haha.  You clearly hadn't listened yet when you asked that.

I love her barefoot playing, the way her body language communicates with the orchestra, her Desconstructed fashion and the fact that she's a beautiful woman... but, clearly, her musical ideas speak for themselves.

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2 minutes ago, Stephen Fine said:

Haha.  You clearly hadn't listened yet when you asked that.

I love her barefoot playing, the way her body language communicates with the orchestra, her Desconstructed fashion and the fact that she's a beautiful woman... but, clearly, her musical ideas speak for themselves.

Visually she was not as distracting as I had expected, And I don’t like watching people who don’t respond to the music, starker never moved me, for instance. But there’s a difference between being moved and mannerisms, And I think what she was doing was just affected. She wasn’t responding to the music, rather she had choreographed what she was going to do at a particular time. Right or wrong that’s how it comes across. Regarding her musical ideas, yes she definitely has them.

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On 11/19/2020 at 11:52 PM, Stephen Fine said:

 

But then, within minutes, she had me convinced that this is obviously what Tchaikovsky meant. I would describe the character as goofy.

 

Do you REALLY think Tchaikovsky was incapable of actually writing down EXACTLY what he wanted and he was waiting for this woman and her abysmal distortion of the actual score to express what "is obviously what Tchaikovsky meant" ? 

In other words, do you think Tch was an IMBECILE ?

Do you think Auer, to which the c/to was initially dedicated to, could not figure out this grotesque BS and taught Misha Elma, or JH ( or many others, wrong ?

Do you think ANY other soloist since the c/to was composed could not figure out what this disrespectful idiot did ?

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18 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

And I think what she was doing was just affected. She wasn’t responding to the music, rather she had choreographed what she was going to do at a particular time.

I guess you're not a fan of ballet. 

She probably also planned where to place her fingers and what bow pressure she was going to use at a particular time.

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As an amateur player I enjoy playing string quartets.  One day our quartet ventured to play something really difficult, Beethoven opus 130.  At the end someone said "Well Beethoven must be turning in his grave after that".  I responded, saying "If Beethoven didn't want people to play it he shouldn't have published it."  Kopatchinskaja certainly has an idiosyncratic approach to  her work.  I find it interesting, drawing my attention to things I hadn't previously considered, not just the score but also the sounds of the instrument.  Many soloists play the "received" interpretation, according to Carl Stross.  For me that is somewhat uninspiring.  I might appreciate aspects of the performance but it doesn't make me rethink the piece, as Kopatchinskaja's does.

As for her bare feet and her "distressed" garb,  I think she's thumbing her nose at the women soloists who wear stiletto heels and strapless gowns.  I am sure that bare feet on the floor makes a better connection and sense of balance than wearing high heels, and strapless gowns draw the attention to the soloist's body rather than the music.

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1 hour ago, gowan said:

As an amateur player I enjoy playing string quartets.  One day our quartet ventured to play something really difficult, Beethoven opus 130.  At the end someone said "Well Beethoven must be turning in his grave after that".  I responded, saying "If Beethoven didn't want people to play it he shouldn't have published it."  Kopatchinskaja certainly has an idiosyncratic approach to  her work.  I find it interesting, drawing my attention to things I hadn't previously considered, not just the score but also the sounds of the instrument.  Many soloists play the "received" interpretation, according to Carl Stross.  For me that is somewhat uninspiring.  I might appreciate aspects of the performance but it doesn't make me rethink the piece, as Kopatchinskaja's does.

As for her bare feet and her "distressed" garb,  I think she's thumbing her nose at the women soloists who wear stiletto heels and strapless gowns.  I am sure that bare feet on the floor makes a better connection and sense of balance than wearing high heels, and strapless gowns draw the attention to the soloist's body rather than the music.

I thought a lot about the “what the composer intended“ crowd, and I think they are correct but incomplete.

We are certainly Expected to know what the composer wanted, but we are, or we should be, encouraged to take what the composer has done and interpret it as we wish.
How many different ways has the Bible been interpreted, for instance? And the Seeker has to choose which he feels is best.

I do not like this interpretation at all, and having visited once I will not join her church, but I am certainly delighted that she feels free enough to make her choice.

If I ever shared any of my own Bach, I think most people would scream and throw things… But I like it, and that’s what matters.

And she likes what she does, and welcome.

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1 hour ago, gowan said:

As an amateur player I enjoy playing string quartets.  One day our quartet ventured to play something really difficult, Beethoven opus 130.  At the end someone said "Well Beethoven must be turning in his grave after that".  I responded, saying "If Beethoven didn't want people to play it he shouldn't have published it."  Kopatchinskaja certainly has an idiosyncratic approach to  her work.  I find it interesting, drawing my attention to things I hadn't previously considered, not just the score but also the sounds of the instrument.  Many soloists play the "received" interpretation, according to Carl Stross.  For me that is somewhat uninspiring.  I might appreciate aspects of the performance but it doesn't make me rethink the piece, as Kopatchinskaja's does.

As for her bare feet and her "distressed" garb,  I think she's thumbing her nose at the women soloists who wear stiletto heels and strapless gowns.  I am sure that bare feet on the floor makes a better connection and sense of balance than wearing high heels, and strapless gowns draw the attention to the soloist's body rather than the music.

 

45 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I thought a lot about the “what the composer intended“ crowd, and I think they are correct but incomplete.

We are certainly Expected to know what the composer wanted, but we are, or we should be, encouraged to take what the composer has done and interpret it as we wish.
How many different ways has the Bible been interpreted, for instance? And the Seeker has to choose which he feels is best.

I do not like this interpretation at all, and having visited once I will not join her church, but I am certainly delighted that she feels free enough to make her choice.

If I ever shared any of my own Bach, I think most people would scream and throw things… But I like it, and that’s what matters.

And she likes what she does, and welcome.

Good posts here.

A couple thoughts... On one hand, for the late Beethoven quartets, Beethoven made the players sign contracts promising they would practice the parts. But on the other hand, every single composer I've ever worked with has encouraged interpretation.

What I enjoy about Kopatchinskaja is her clarity.  While some people might wrongly believe that clarity is the black and white notes on the score, a clear performance is, in fact, understanding the music and presenting it in such a way that others achieve your understanding.  It's like poetry, or, like Philip suggests, like interpreting the Bible.  

Her ideas are very strong and she is very consistent in her application of them. Her technique is exceptional.  I don't think her stage presence is any more affected than mine, I think we are seeing her personality very clearly.

Her clothes might be some sort of statement, but she's wearing haute couture.  Very fashionable.

I think we (as an industry) would do better with more performances eliciting strong opinions one way or another. Especially when we are performing Romantic music, it just makes sense to be carried to extremes.

 

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1 hour ago, Stephen Fine said:

 

Good posts here.

A couple thoughts... On one hand, for the late Beethoven quartets, Beethoven made the players sign contracts promising they would practice the parts. But on the other hand, every single composer I've ever worked with has encouraged interpretation.

What I enjoy about Kopatchinskaja is her clarity.  While some people might wrongly believe that clarity is the black and white notes on the score, a clear performance is, in fact, understanding the music and presenting it in such a way that others achieve your understanding.  It's like poetry, or, like Philip suggests, like interpreting the Bible.  

Her ideas are very strong and she is very consistent in her application of them. Her technique is exceptional.  I don't think her stage presence is any more affected than mine, I think we are seeing her personality very clearly.

Her clothes might be some sort of statement, but she's wearing haute couture.  Very fashionable.

I think we (as an industry) would do better with more performances eliciting strong opinions one way or another. Especially when we are performing Romantic music, it just makes sense to be carried to extremes.

 

I do not disagree with that at all. The worst thing we can do is “be the same”

I am reading a fascinating book called “the theater today” which is a collection of reviews of plays printed in 1907. It’s fascinating, completely fascinating to read these incredible reviews of plays that were being produced at the time, Only a few of which lasted beyond their first run. The writer is brilliant and far surpasses anything that counts for journalism today in his writing skill. In one of his reviews he quotes someone else as having said

,” The success is in the silence. The fame is in the song.”

I had to think about that for a second, and what I take that to mean is that someone can do something that makes them famous, but the true success comes from afterwards, after the event, after the thing, when the people who have experienced the event continue to ponder it-or don’t. They Must consider what, if any, lasting meaning came from that experience, and if they find some, The experience will have been a success. 
Stephen Saw a lasting meaning in this performance, and with all due respect I saw charlatanism: Supreme gifts wasted on poor choices.

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On 11/20/2020 at 1:12 PM, Stephen Fine said:

...

I love her barefoot playing, the way her body language communicates with the orchestra, her Desconstructed fashion and the fact that she's a beautiful woman... but, clearly, her musical ideas speak for themselves.

...

2 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

...

Her clothes might be some sort of statement, but she's wearing haute couture.  Very fashionable.

...

 

4 hours ago, gowan said:

...

As for her bare feet and her "distressed" garb,  I think she's thumbing her nose at the women soloists who wear stiletto heels and strapless gowns.  I am sure that bare feet on the floor makes a better connection and sense of balance than wearing high heels, and strapless gowns draw the attention to the soloist's body rather than the music.

She plays well...and that's the best I can say, critique-wise, of the music. ^_^ I'm very easy to please.

I am also endlessly interested in the visual presentation, gender differences in fashion, current trends as well as etiquette.

I dislike her sloppy "anti-establishment"  approach to performance costuming. I dislike strapless gowns and high-heels just as much. What a stupid "go to" that has become  - especially for what amounts to a somewhat athletic endeavor.

There is a gigantic middle ground to explore. :rolleyes:

So, if PK can perform barefoot and ASM can perform in strapless dresses...I'd like to see what everyone would say if Simon Rattle conducted an orchestra wearing flip-flops and a muscle shirt...

 

 

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[Cups her hands into a megaphone, and shouts,]  "Hey, everybody, go to the hall next door, V****** M**'s performing "Twinkle" stark naked, accompanied by L*** A*******!!!!"  [Moves aside to avoid the thunderous stampede, then quietly shuts the door.]

Now, maybe we can discuss this seriously, at least until they notice that the venue next door actually has Joshua Bell, in a tuxedo, playing Bach...........  :ph34r:  ;)  :lol:

Standards of performance, and decades of disciplined practice, have always been central to "Classical" music in its various forms.  The bottom line is that it is an elite art form designedly catering to a limited audience with refined listening skills, who expect that the performance will fall within certain well-defined limits, and feature performers who are masters of their instruments.  We don't buy expensive tickets to go hear the Sibelius performed on kazoos, or some other trendy "popular" (usually merely artistically self-indulgent) deviation from technical excellence.

One notes that demanding that classical concerts be Classical in nature denies no one's rights to artistic expression.  There's plenty of venues available for all of the other ways to do things, and more Philistine approaches are certainly more lucrative, public taste being what it is.  :rolleyes:  There's also many opportunities for those of us who do not yet reach the standards of the top echelon of performers to find an appreciative audience, and even get paid for our efforts.  IMHO, however, trying to make Classical music "big-tent" by pandering to people who don't appreciate it, or lowering standards so everybody can be "Queen For A Day", will destroy it while trying to save it.

As far as the OP video goes, much of the soloist's interpretation was not to my taste, but it wasn't egregious trespass on the form, just not the sounds that I would have preferred to hear, and probably not what the composer intended (dear heavens, some of those ricochets.....).  It was undoubtedly light-years better than what I could do with the material.  As regards her costume, I found nothing obnoxious about it.

Anyway, I always wear stilettos with a strapless gown.  [Produces one from somewhere behind her back, and pops it open.]  One can't be too careful, these days.  ;)  :lol:

 

 

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5 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

If I ever shared any of my own Bach, I think most people would scream and throw things… But I like it, and that’s what matters.

And she likes what she does, and welcome.

I happen to listen to Heifetz's recording of the Sarabande from Bach's Partitia #2 in Dm and his performance is quite the deviation from most modern interpretations. Or most modern interpretations are quite the deviation from Heifetz's. 

So, I dunno.

You like what you like, and that's what matters. I am glad that you like the way you play Bach, @PhilipKT. I like the way I play it, too. Let's play music and not "scream and throw things." :D

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3 hours ago, Rue said:

I dislike her sloppy "anti-establishment"  approach to performance costuming. 

She's just one step (and far from the first) in the process of the musical performance "establishment" catching up to the rest of the cultural "establishment".   I'm just surprised (and in retrospect have been enjoying the fact) that it hasn't happened sooner.

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On 11/21/2020 at 2:42 AM, Carl Stross said:

Do you REALLY think Tchaikovsky was incapable of actually writing down EXACTLY what he wanted and he was waiting for this woman and her abysmal distortion of the actual score to express what "is obviously what Tchaikovsky meant" ? 

In other words, do you think Tch was an IMBECILE ?

Do you think Auer, to which the c/to was initially dedicated to, could not figure out this grotesque BS and taught Misha Elma, or JH ( or many others, wrong ?

Do you think ANY other soloist since the c/to was composed could not figure out what this disrespectful idiot did ?

I generally enjoy Pat Kop's performances, but for this one I'm with Carl. Its 'A Bridge too Far' for me. I shared it with my daughter who is a more structured critic than me and she just rocked back and forth with her hands over her face saying 'no no no' until she could gather herself into more cogent discussion. I'm afraid neither of us made it the the third movement. It did  not look like  the Orchestra enjoyed it much either. The facial expressions and body language only relaxed during the Tutti which were excellent.

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On 11/21/2020 at 9:45 AM, Stephen Fine said:

 

...Her ideas are very strong and she is very consistent in her application of them. Her technique is exceptional...

 

The choppiness, the ugly slides and the lack of precision in places, being deliberate stylistic decisions make them somehow worse 

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On 11/21/2020 at 8:59 AM, GeorgeH said:

I guess you're not a fan of ballet. 

She probably also planned where to place her fingers and what bow pressure she was going to use at a particular time.

!

On 11/21/2020 at 2:18 PM, PhilipKT said:

I do not disagree with that at all. The worst thing we can do is “be the same”

I saw charlatanism: Supreme gifts wasted on poor choices.

With respect, that's not the definition of a charlatan.  A charlatan seldom possesses supreme gifts, they pretend to have them.  A charlatan is a fraud.

Maybe you meant jester or clown?  I think she comes across that way to many, and I can understand why.  I think she makes aesthetic choices bordering on bad taste, but I happen to think she never steps over the line.  It's easy for me to understand how if you draw the line in a different spot, she's way over the line.

I think it's as Andres says below:

On 11/21/2020 at 6:31 PM, Andres Sender said:

She's just one step (and far from the first) in the process of the musical performance "establishment" catching up to the rest of the cultural "establishment".   I'm just surprised (and in retrospect have been enjoying the fact) that it hasn't happened sooner.

I'm mostly fine with performing in a much less extreme fashion.  Not only do I lack Kopatchinskaja's remarkable technique, but I know the repertoire well enough, that even in a boring performance, I'll find something to think about usually.

But Kopatchinskaja is my hero.  Everyone I aspire to play like can take a phrase and just dominate it.  The ability to shape a phrase is the whole ballgame as far as I'm concerned, and when I first heard her play a few years ago, it was revelatory.  She does it better than anyone else.

On 11/21/2020 at 11:17 PM, amati said:

Beauty is in the eye — and the ear — of the beholder. Although PK’s unique playing of this concerto is not to my taste, it seems that there are many others who enjoy it.  Chacun a son gout. 

Always a good attitude.

37 minutes ago, Televet said:

I'm afraid neither of us made it the the third movement. It did  not look like  the Orchestra enjoyed it much either. The facial expressions and body language only relaxed during the Tutti which were excellent.

The return of the 3rd movement was one of my favorite parts, also one of the most convincing.  As for the orchestra... I would love to perform with her, but can you imagine you stressful!?  I wonder how many rehearsals...

30 minutes ago, Televet said:

the lack of precision in places

There were a couple (a few? 4 or 5?) less than precise moments that seemed out of character for her, but I didn't mind them. When you take a lot of risks, things can go a bit awry.

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A while ago, I performed this with Denes Zsigmondy as the soloist. 

Much the same effect, and on the better of his two performances (he was quite old then, and exhausted on opening night), he wound up speaking directly to audience members in ways that someone doing the standard drill wouldn't have.   

I find in many places, this performance catches the spirit of the ballet quite beautifully.  In other spots, it draws from a very old line of Hungarian playing.  Not exactly what Joachim and Auer brought to their students, but was part of the background, I think.

Anyway, thanks for posting this!  

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1 minute ago, Ernee said:

A while ago, I performed this with Denes Zsigmondy as the soloist. 

Much the same effect, and on the better of his two performances (he was quite old then, and exhausted on opening night), he wound up speaking directly to audience members in ways that someone doing the standard drill wouldn't have.   

I find in many places, this performance catches the spirit of the ballet quite beautifully.  In other spots, it draws from a very old line of Hungarian playing.  Not exactly what Joachim and Auer brought to their students, but was part of the background, I think.

Anyway, thanks for posting this!  

Thank you for that anecdote and your observations.

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