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On 11/19/2020 at 1:52 PM, 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.

 

Wow!   Thanks for drawing attention to an amazing performance.

That's the first time in several years that I've enjoyed watching a performance of the Tchaikovsky from end to end.

She has a way of making things more virtuosic and less bonbastic at the same time.  And, she always manages to extract and tell an engaging musical story, no matter how complex, arcane, or even over familar the material might be.  But, that story is often more her than the composer.

I doubt very much that this fiddler would claim that she was simply being faithful to the score.  No. Her interpretation is more imposed over the composition than not.  It almost a recomposition. As much so as is possible while playing the actual notes from the score.

But who else could even attempt such a version?  Her skills are beyond belief.

No. I think is what happens when such a beyond the fences talent says 'absolutely not'.  I refuse to play the 125,637th more or less same interpretation of this over ridden warhorse.

Many, many, thanks to Patricia Kopatchinskaja for giving such fresh delights for the ear 

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4 hours ago, David Beard said:

And, she always manages to extract and tell an engaging musical story, no matter how complex, arcane, or even over familar the material might be.  But, that story is often more her than the composer.

I doubt very much that this fiddler would claim that she was simply being faithful to the score.  No. Her interpretation is more imposed over the composition than not.  It almost a recomposition. As much so as is possible while playing the actual notes from the score.

The defence makes the prosecutor's case perfectly. Even after a thousand hearings of the piece I still think Tchaikovsky's conception is a thing of beauty that shouldn't be defiled.

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8 hours ago, David Beard said:

Her interpretation is more imposed over the composition than not.  It almost a recomposition. As much so as is possible while playing the actual notes from the score.

But who else could even attempt such a version?  Her skills are beyond belief.

Thanks for your post, I agree.

Although, I think the score is always an invitation to interpret. Depending on the composer, the era, etc. . . various amounts of interpretation are "allowed."  Kopatchinskaja shows the power of strong ideas.

7 hours ago, Rue said:

I just picked my October Strad mag. :)<_<

In it, PK says she prefers things NOT to be perfect...

Hah!  "Perfect" would be easy enough for her.

What she does is much more difficult.

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How many times can you hear a great piece played the same?  Especially when the writing relies on dramatic surprise?  Is the standard interpretation still dramatically surprising to you?  This one managed to still give surprises.

Notice that a crop of 'showman' virtuosos are adressing the same issue, but for less sophisticated audiences.  These performers throw on dramtic lighting and staging.   Then hype up the tempos and dramtic contrasts.   How fast can Vivaldi's Seasons go?  And then there are the 'classical' that turn their shows into comic juggler acts, bowing each others instruments and other wise creating stunts and sight gags.

A very few of those violinists I like as violinists, but I don't like the stage craft and theatrics.

It's something similar with performance at hand.  She took me out of my 'not again' mode, and engaged me.  Suddenly I was enjoying her unearthly playing, and along the way once again seeing how much beauty is present in the Tchaikovsky.

My brother once commented to me during an energetic perfornance of the Tchaikovsky, 'it sounds like he's running to the restroom'   And he was so right! But I felt none of that here.

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16 minutes ago, David Beard said:

How many times can you hear a great piece played the same?  Especially when the writing relies on dramatic surprise?  Is the standard interpretation still dramatically surprising to you?  This one managed to still give surprises.

Notice that a crop of 'showman' virtuosos are adressing the same issue, but for less sophisticated audiences.  These performers throw on dramtic lighting and staging.   Then hype up the tempos and dramtic contrasts.   How fast can Vivaldi's Seasons go?  And then there are the 'classical' that turn their shows into comic juggler acts, bowing each others instruments and other wise creating stunts and sight gags.

A very few of those violinists I like as violinists, but I don't like the stage craft and theatrics.

It's something similar with performance at hand.  She took me out of my 'not again' mode, and engaged me.  Suddenly I was enjoying her unearthly playing, and along the way once again seeing how much beauty is present in the Tchaikovsky.

My brother once commented to me during an energetic perfornance of the Tchaikovsky, 'it sounds like he's running to the restroom'   And he was so right! But I felt none of that here.

To your question, I don’t think familiarity is a reason to avoid listening to a piece. The greatness of the peace means that even though you know what exactly what is coming, it is no less exciting for all that. Everyone, even many of the “unchurched” are aware of that glorious climax in the finale of Beethoven nine, we all know it, we all know it is coming, And it moves us deeply no less because we know it is coming.

So knowing what is coming does not diminish the appeal, so long as the original product has enough intrinsic value. If it does not, the “surprise” is the only thing to look forward to, and once that is gone, there is nothing left.

I applaud the idea of bringing an individual mindset to a piece, and I’ve never said anything less, My problem is when the judgment itself is so poor, as I feel it is in this case. I did not enjoy her choices, I do not respect her choices, but again, and for the umpteenth time, I fully endorse her right to make her choices.

If I were a violinist, I would solve the problem by not playing the Tchaikovsky at all, On the ground that it has been played dry, And the only way to make it interesting is to distort it.

I am merely a journeyman professional cellist, and there is no college professorship waiting for me somewhere, but if I were, I would insist that each of my students research, find, and perform, at least one quality piece per semester by a composer they had never heard of. Despite the parameters, I have no doubt that my students would never run out of possibilities.

Too much music is played merely because it is played, or not played merely because it is not played, without regard for its musical value.

If you have heard of Paul Juon, points for you. If you have not, go look up his first piano trio and then come tell me why the minuscule catalogue of piano trio music ignores this piece?

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On 12/5/2020 at 1:23 PM, PhilipKT said:

If you have heard of Paul Juon, points for you. If you have not, go look up his first piano trio and then come tell me why the minuscule catalogue of piano trio music ignores this piece?

Good piece.  Never heard of the guy.  He definitely sounds like his teachers!  Very cool textures. Beautiful melody writing.

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On 12/5/2020 at 3:24 AM, matesic said:

The defence makes the prosecutor's case perfectly. Even after a thousand hearings of the piece I still think Tchaikovsky's conception is a thing of beauty that shouldn't be defiled.

I love this piece but I wouldn't know how to tell you what Tchaikovsky's conception of it is other than just giving you the score for it.  Every performance is an interpretation of the piece or a gloss on it,  almost by definition there can be no "perfect" interpretation.  Any interpretation gives us more insight into the music.

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18 hours ago, gowan said:

Any interpretation gives us more insight into the music.

In the first movement (the most radical of the 3), Kopatchinskaja clearly delineated two characters, the goofy one and the serious one.  The goofball's themes and textures were different from the serioso's. Despite wearing out my CD of Heifetz/Reiner, I had no idea that this back-and-forth of material was happening.  Part of the problem, of course, is that I can hear those sweet Chicago tuttis happening in my head even now.  When I listen to that record, I'm not really listening and hearing it in the same way as when I hear a fresh interpretation.  It's less about the music, more about pleasure and nostalgia.  I focus on the clarity and beauty of Heifetz's sound, the effortlessness of his virtuosity, again, those tuttis... the brass and the strings...  It just makes me so happy.

Why listen to anything else?

Kopatchinskaja demonstrates why.

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21 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

Good piece.  Never heard of the guy.  He definitely sounds like his teachers!  Very cool textures. Beautiful melody writing.

Juon's Op.37 and Op.50 piano quartets are very good too. If PK wants to make an impression she might investigate his 3 violin concertos

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2 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:

In the first movement (the most radical of the 3), Kopatchinskaja clearly delineated two characters, the goofy one and the serious one.  The goofball's themes and textures were different from the serioso's. Despite wearing out my CD of Heifetz/Reiner, I had no idea that this back-and-forth of material was happening.  Part of the problem, of course, is that I can hear those sweet Chicago tuttis happening in my head even now.  When I listen to that record, I'm not really listening and hearing it in the same way as when I hear a fresh interpretation.  It's less about the music, more about pleasure and nostalgia.  I focus on the clarity and beauty of Heifetz's sound, the effortlessness of his virtuosity, again, those tuttis... the brass and the strings...  It just makes me so happy.

Why listen to anything else?

Kopatchinskaja demonstrates why.

I haven’t read all 309 comments, but this is the first one that really addresses the performance, and I noticed the same delineation that you did. In the Dvorak cello Concerto, especially in the last movement, the music seems to be periodic episodes that aren’t necessarily related to each other. Here Dvorak does one thing and captures one mood and here he does another thing and captures another mood. However, in order for those episodes to work they must be part of an organic whole, and I might compare the cello Concerto to an orange, which is a unique whole made up of connected segments. And PK’s performance To a bunch of grapes, some large some small, some sour, some slightly different color. It is certainly possible to claim that each is an organic whole, but no… Not for me.

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I thought it was in this thread that we were discussing metronome markings vs. composer's intentions.  Now I'm not seeing it.  Perhaps I hallucinated it all?  Anyway, this is still on topic: the black marks on the white page are NOT the music.
 
"You cannot put a metronome mark to sentiment." - Beethoven
"Metronome marks cannot remain valid for more than a week." - Brahms
"My metronome marks are good for the first bar at most." - Schoenberg
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1 hour ago, Stephen Fine said:
I thought it was in this thread that we were discussing metronome markings vs. composer's intentions.  Now I'm not seeing it.  Perhaps I hallucinated it all?  Anyway, this is still on topic: the black marks on the white page are NOT the music.
 
"You cannot put a metronome mark to sentiment." - Beethoven
"Metronome marks cannot remain valid for more than a week." - Brahms
"My metronome marks are good for the first bar at most." - Schoenberg

I tell my kids that every piece has a range. “You can play it this fast, or this slow, or anything in between, and it will work. But you can’t play it outside that range or it won’t work.” And then I point out how nebulous tempo indications are. “Andante  is called,’walking speed.’ Well, are you walking towards your beloved or towards your execution?“

Finally I point out that character is more important than actual speed, and then we see how to play a piece slowly, and yet still “allegro vivace“

Tempo matters much less than character.

Edited by PhilipKT
Grammar
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2 hours ago, Stephen Fine said:
I thought it was in this thread that we were discussing metronome markings vs. composer's intentions.  Now I'm not seeing it.  Perhaps I hallucinated it all?  Anyway, this is still on topic: the black marks on the white page are NOT the music.
 
"You cannot put a metronome mark to sentiment." - Beethoven
"Metronome marks cannot remain valid for more than a week." - Brahms
"My metronome marks are good for the first bar at most." - Schoenberg

And yet, Beethoven stated quite firmly that the only reason his 9th succeeded in Berlin was observation of the metronome marks.   One can be faithful to tempo without being mechanical.   And while the metronomic pulse might not be sufficient to communicate composer's intent, it does make possible a range of outcomes that will probably change if the tempo is changed.

Brahms could be a bit-- flexible in his own performances, perhaps depending on his consumption of coffee or wine that day.  And yet, his (deleted) marks for the German Requiem show completely different proportions and expression than what has become common now.  One of the few to latch onto the original tempi without needing the numbers for reference was Anton Webern-- not a clueless interpreter.  (And Webern was quite cognizant of rhetoric, and the use of rubato within a tempo category.)

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59 minutes ago, Ernee said:

And yet, Beethoven stated quite firmly that the only reason his 9th succeeded in Berlin was observation of the metronome marks.   One can be faithful to tempo without being mechanical.   And while the metronomic pulse might not be sufficient to communicate composer's intent, it does make possible a range of outcomes that will probably change if the tempo is changed.

I'm not sure Beethoven's letter to Schott (assuming that's what you're thinking of) is him stating "quite firmly that the only reason his 9th succeeded in Berlin was observation of the metronome marks."  That's an exaggeration of the actual text and ignores a bit the purpose of the letter.  I think Beethoven saw both an artistic and a business opportunity.

But there's no question that Beethoven loved the metronome.  And there's no question that his metronome markings are interesting and important.  I'm usually the one in rehearsals arguing that we should consider the composer's intentions, but, at the end of the way, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

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True enough.  But when we get direct advice from the composer, who was also one of the most gifted performers of his time, it is worth paying more attention than most people do.   Here is an interesting illustration of benefits of doing with, and without heeding that particular instruction:  

 

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IMHO, an inflexible rule is being sought where one cannot exist, and the treatment of markings should vary with the context.

Where the composer's intent is unarguably known (particularly with certain modern works where the original scores specify a particular interpretation), it should not be tampered with.  If it is, you have produced an "inspired by" rearrangement, which should be plainly labeled as such.

In cases less clear, the amount of latitude allowed should be governed by the experience and skill of the performers.  A student should learn a piece as a given to start with.  Someone with 40 years in the business, approaching an unaccompanied solo, may do as they darned well please.  The more participants you add will also impose constraints.  You have a responsibility to your colleagues.

In the case of an orchestral performance, the conductor, director, showrunner, or whoever else does the hiring, firing, and signs the paychecks, should have ultimate responsibility for the performance.  Whatever they tell you to pencil in (like "Freiheit" for "Freude"), goes.  It's their artistic creation, not yours.  :)

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11 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

IMHO, an inflexible rule is being sought where one cannot exist, and the treatment of markings should vary with the context.

Where the composer's intent is unarguably known (particularly with certain modern works where the original scores specify a particular interpretation), it should not be tampered with.  If it is, you have produced an "inspired by" rearrangement, which should be plainly labeled as such.

In cases less clear, the amount of latitude allowed should be governed by the experience and skill of the performers.  A student should learn a piece as a given to start with.  Someone with 40 years in the business, approaching an unaccompanied solo, may do as they darned well please.  The more participants you add will also impose constraints.  You have a responsibility to your colleagues.

In the case of an orchestral performance, the conductor, director, showrunner, or whoever else does the hiring, firing, and signs the paychecks, should have ultimate responsibility for the performance.  Whatever they tell you to pencil in (like "Freiheit" for "Freude"), goes.  It's their artistic creation, not yours.  :)

To a certain extent I agree with you, but at the end of the day, what Beethoven wanted is less important than what I want. That’s not sacrilege, it is merely a performer making his own artistic judgment about how to play a particular piece. I firmly believe that anybody can play anything anyway, And if the performance is tasteless or crass or asinine, the performer will suffer slings and arrows. I have no patience for the reviewer who complains that the tempo was three clicks too slow or too fast, Which was frequently in the reviews written by Scott Cantrell for the Dallas morning news. The only thing that matters is whether it succeeded or not.

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13 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Where the composer's intent is unarguably known (particularly with certain modern works where the original scores specify a particular interpretation), it should not be tampered with. 

Well yes, I agree up to a point, but I rather doubt that the composer's intent is ever unarguably known, particularly as regards tempo variations within a movement. Much of Brahms, for example, works best I think with a degree of flexibility that he didn't feel it necessary to specify. An obscure composer from the early 20th century who I've spent a lot of time with, Percy Hilder Miles, often decided to dispense with ambiguous terms like Andante and specified only metronome marks. In spite of his pedigree (he was a fine violinist as well as a Professor of Harmony at the RAM) he sometimes seems to have overestimated either the technical powers of his players or the staying power of his music at very slow tempi. I really don't think he expected players to follow his tempi religiously, but to find out what works best for them.

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5 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

To a certain extent I agree with you, but at the end of the day, what Beethoven wanted is less important than what I want. That’s not sacrilege, it is merely a performer making his own artistic judgment about how to play a particular piece. I firmly believe that anybody can play anything anyway, And if the performance is tasteless or crass or asinine, the performer will suffer slings and arrows. I have no patience for the reviewer who complains that the tempo was three clicks too slow or too fast, Which was frequently in the reviews written by Scott Cantrell for the Dallas morning news. The only thing that matters is whether it succeeded or not.

'Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.'  --  Jean Sibelius  :lol:

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10 minutes ago, matesic said:

Well yes, I agree up to a point, but I rather doubt that the composer's intent is ever unarguably known, particularly as regards tempo variations within a movement. Much of Brahms, for example, works best I think with a degree of flexibility that he didn't feel it necessary to specify. An obscure composer from the early 20th century who I've spent a lot of time with, Percy Hilder Miles, often decided to dispense with ambiguous terms like Andante and specified only metronome marks. In spite of his pedigree (he was a fine violinist as well as a Professor of Harmony at the RAM) he sometimes seems to have overestimated either the technical powers of his players or the staying power of his music at very slow tempi. I really don't think he expected players to follow his tempi religiously, but to find out what works best for them.

I'm saying exercise your mature judgement.  Lacking that, play what you're handed within the rules obtaining at the instant.  :)

Composer's intended control varies.  If John Williams is conducting his own music, would you argue with him?

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13 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

I'm saying exercise your mature judgement.  Lacking that, play what you're handed within the rules obtaining at the instant.  :)

Composer's intended control varies.  If John Williams is conducting his own music, would you argue with him?

There’s a story about Richard Strauss conducting one of his operas, and during the opera he leans over to the concert master and whispers, “this opera is really very long, isn’t it?” And the surprised concert master replies, “but Maestro, you wrote it.” And Strauss sighs and answers,”Yes, but I never thought I would have to conduct it.”

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20 hours ago, Ernee said:

True enough.  But when we get direct advice from the composer, who was also one of the most gifted performers of his time, it is worth paying more attention than most people do.   Here is an interesting illustration of benefits of doing with, and without heeding that particular instruction:  

 

I've played Serioso at the marked tempo before. That one makes sense to me.

There are other markings that make less sense.  Radiolab did a neat program on it a few years ago... hired musicians to make the point.

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/269783-speedy-beet

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/271345-speedthoven

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On 12/22/2020 at 3:20 PM, Ernee said:

Anyone looking for references, the appendix to this PhD thesis has some very good tables.  Beethoven, Czerny, Moscheles.  

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54586757/FULL_TEXT.PDF 

Also of interest (potentially)-- marks for the late quartets by Karl Holz.  He was Schuppanzigh's second violinist.

Nice.  I'm downloading this for next time my quartet gets into an argument over how to count.  What a great resource. The metronome markings are neat, but the rest of it is just such a solid resource.

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