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#1500784 - 08/22/10 03:07 AM Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli
al-mahed Offline
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#1500788 - 08/22/10 03:34 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: al-mahed]
Mark_C Offline
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Somewhere in between.

I used to like him a lot better than I do now. His playing obviously isn't insensitive, but I do find it relatively mechanical. I never have the impression that he 'feels every note,' which I think is a basic standard for really good Chopin playing.

Among those who did 'feel every note' (IMO) were both Horowitz and Rubinstein. It's why I loved them both, even though they are often regarded as opposites and in some ways they were.
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#1500791 - 08/22/10 03:50 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: al-mahed]
wr Offline
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Very beautiful, poetic playing. I don't hear anything remotely "machine like" in it at all. Granted, he doesn't try to work the music into a hair-tearing, nail-biting, frothing-at-the-mouth neurotic frenzy at the end the way some pianists do (and which I like, too), but that doesn't mean his version is mechanical.

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#1500792 - 08/22/10 03:57 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: wr]
Mark_C Offline
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Depending on your tastes and preferences, it's way more than not getting into a frenzy. Some parts of the piece show flexibility and soul; IMO much of it doesn't.
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#1500988 - 08/22/10 01:57 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Mark_C]
MikeN Offline
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The thing with Michelangeli is that he never risks anything when he plays. He's looking for a perfect performance every time. If you know this when listening to him you can admire the complete control and the perfect legato which is never sacrificed for any reason whatsoever. He's an unusual breed, if I were to classify him using the styles of other pianist I'm put him somewhere between Gould's extremely meticulous study methods mixed with Hamelin's reliance on the score and his dedication to creating a beautiful tone.

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#1501041 - 08/22/10 03:23 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: MikeN]
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I would think he is risking alot by going for that flawless perfect performance. It is very difficult to achieve what he did, and in that sense what he is doing is artistic. It is something unique about his playing that others have tried to copy. His is just another different view on how to present passion and artistry.

Horowitz himself said something to the extent of Music is controlled emotion.

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#1501060 - 08/22/10 03:50 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: jdhampton924]
pianoloverus Online   content
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I think part of what some find cold or mechanical in Michelangeli's playing is caused by his stage persona. He reminds me of Heifetz or Pollini.

I only listened to part of the Scherzo, but enjoyed what I heard. I remember hearing a disk of him playind Chopin Mazurkas a long time ago and finding it very odd. I think he is a very great pianist but feel his style is more suited to non Romantic composers like Debussy and Ravel.


Edited by pianoloverus (08/22/10 03:52 PM)

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#1501069 - 08/22/10 04:04 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: pianoloverus]
PianoDude2010 Offline
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Heifetz' stage persona may have been cool, but his playing was anything but!

The opening of the Korngold violin concerto:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEs3GMEAqYA

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#1501072 - 08/22/10 04:06 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: PianoDude2010]
Mark_C Offline
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Yes indeed.
With Michelangeli it isn't at all confined to stage manner, nor IMO much determined by it. Sure, the stage manner fits in, but......there are many performers whose stage manner was "cool" but whose playing we'd never consider cool, including not just Heifetz, who you mentioned, but also -- of all people! -- Horowitz.

The things I mentioned here about this performance are fully evident from just the audio, and immediately so. The differing opinions here must come from different preferences on interpretation. If someone likes this kind of interpretation, he probably won't consider it "cool."
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#1501142 - 08/22/10 07:10 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: al-mahed]
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I actually enjoyed his performance. It is very good. Probably not my Number One, but still excellent...
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#1501149 - 08/22/10 07:23 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
If someone likes this kind of interpretation, he probably won't consider it "cool."
Or if someone doesn't like the performance, they might consider it "cold".

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#1501153 - 08/22/10 07:29 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: ChopinAddict]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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His control of sound in this recording, even with the terrible compression of YouTube, is stunning. Dazzling. Remarkable. Let me get out my thesaurus for some more superlatives.
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#1501177 - 08/22/10 08:07 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: pianoloverus]
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
If someone likes this kind of interpretation, he probably won't consider it "cool."
Or if someone doesn't like the performance, they might consider it "cold".


I wouldn't call it cold, but I almost fell asleep. This is the sort of playing I would appreciate more if I were doing it myself. Not mechanical, but still somewhat an exercise. I don't doubt that he may have been a little cautious due to being filmed.
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#1501231 - 08/22/10 10:20 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Damon]
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There's no freshness or spontaneity to his performances in general...but they're perfect. If perfection is the goal, he does it extremely well, but isn't spontaneity and freshness the key to playing most of Chopin (especially the scherzi which are very repetitive at times...especially the second)?
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#1501233 - 08/22/10 10:29 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Kuanpiano]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Hmm... I'm used to the A section moving just a tad more.

I'm not watching... I'm only listening to audio. It doesn't sound mechanical to me; it sounds fine. Not my favorite, but great playing nonetheless. Just not to my personal taste as #1. He's an impeccable pianist, though!

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#1501235 - 08/22/10 10:34 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Orange Soda King]
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#1501241 - 08/22/10 11:03 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Kuanpiano]
al-mahed Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
There's no freshness or spontaneity to his performances in general...but they're perfect. If perfection is the goal, he does it extremely well, but isn't spontaneity and freshness the key to playing most of Chopin (especially the scherzi which are very repetitive at times...especially the second)?


That's exactly what I think. There is of course greatness in a flawless playing, and he's possibly the most "perfect" pianist I ever heard, and there is some emotion, but I think the emotion is due to the Chopin writting itself. The music itself is just great if you play what is written.
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#1501243 - 08/22/10 11:06 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Kuanpiano]
argerichfan Online   sick
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
There's no freshness or spontaneity to his performances in general...but they're perfect. If perfection is the goal, he does it extremely well, but isn't spontaneity and freshness the key to playing most of Chopin (especially the scherzi which are very repetitive at times...especially the second)?

Yeah, I agree as I wipe the tears from my face. How is it bloody possible to play with such a detached and cynical perfection?

Like Pollini, this stuff is just not of any interest to me. Michelangeli's Rachmaninov 4th is always the benchmark -the British have their orgasms properly ordered- but is this recording still the 'classic' that everyone genuflects in front of?

I don't think so anymore. The Rachmaninov 4th is a still-born composition, the composer took the piss for not being modern enough, but with or without cuts, it's much the same. Rachmaninov's glory was to simply express himself, what he was trying to accomplish in the 4th concerto was out of his league.
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#1501249 - 08/22/10 11:18 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
....Like Pollini, this stuff is just not of any interest to me.....

I felt the same comparison, but I think it's not completely fair to Michelangeli. I think Michelangeli 'has more.'

My take on this performance is basically the same as yours and several others here, including Damon, Kuanpiano, and OrangeSodaKing. I also agree with much of the positive that has been expressed, including what Keith said about the control of sound. I put a lot of weight on that, but for me it's outweighed by the inflexibility of rhythm in far too much of the piece.
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#1501253 - 08/22/10 11:24 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Mark_C]
LisztAddict Offline
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I enjoy it and find nothing wrong with the performance of this particular piece.

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#1501305 - 08/23/10 01:05 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: LisztAddict]
MikeN Offline
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Yes, their isn't anything wrong with it, but is the unoffensive and "perfect" approach of greater value than a spontaneous and daredevil like approach? In the end I feel that this practically risk less, technically speaking, approach is just not conducive to music. I think every pianist must ask his/herself: Should I play it safe and produce a satisfactory product, or should I take risk and throw myself into the playing to produce a highly personal product, even though the end result may be sloppy.

Personally, I'll be pushing my limits and face the threat of falling off the bandwagon at every turn if I can move and excite my audience, and I think many on this forum would do the same.

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#1501334 - 08/23/10 03:09 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: MikeN]
wr Offline
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I used to think Michelangeli's playing was all about the perfection, and was basically not very interesting. Then I grew up learned how to listen to his playing. And it really was a matter of learning how to listen to it, because what I had been listening to was my expectations, rather than what Michelangeli was really doing. It actually hit me like the proverbial bolt from the blue - one day I had put on a CD of his, and boom - something clicked - and suddenly I was hearing all sorts of detail and inflection that I simply hadn't heard before, and I discovered that his playing was actually extremely intense, the opposite of cold. But my hearing and level attention had to adjust to his style, no doubt about it.

Now it seems to me that he was something like a late, Italian branch of that French "style severe" thing. It's not inexpressive at all, but just goes about being expressive in a different way than what I was used to.

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#1501409 - 08/23/10 07:38 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: MikeN]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: MikeN
Yes, their isn't anything wrong with it, but is the unoffensive and "perfect" approach of greater value than a spontaneous and daredevil like approach? In the end I feel that this practically risk less, technically speaking, approach is just not conducive to music. I think every pianist must ask his/herself: Should I play it safe and produce a satisfactory product, or should I take risk and throw myself into the playing to produce a highly personal product, even though the end result may be sloppy.

Personally, I'll be pushing my limits and face the threat of falling off the bandwagon at every turn if I can move and excite my audience, and I think many on this forum would do the same.

I don't see what can be wrong with "perfection" or what that approach has to do with being as "unoffensive". Nor do I see anything necessarily good about "spontaneous" or "daredevil" pianism, although these words you chose have connotations implying they're good. Nor do I think that if someone has a perfect technique one should use 'riskless" to describe they're playing. It's only technically riskless for someone like Michelangeli in the sense that he can achieve what he wants with such a high degree of success.

Some great pianists play works somewhat differently each time and others tend to play works more similarly each time with a more fixed interpretation. I don't think either approach is better. I don't think playing a work somewhat differently each time(if that is what you mean in your post)involves taking more risks or is necessarily more personal or more exciting or avoids producing merely satisfactory results.

In fact, when pianisits like Horowitz and others say "I play it differently each time" my reaction is something like "everyone does that to some extent' or "so what?" or "is that a good thing or just a personal choice?"

Why is "pushing my limits" a good thing? If one's technique is good enough, I don't think one has too push one's limits in order to play a piece the way one wishes.

I think it's out of place for a 15 year old to describe Michelangeli's playing as "there's nothing wrong with it", "inoffensive", "riskless', "not conducive to music", "satisfactory", not "exciting".



Edited by pianoloverus (08/23/10 11:18 AM)

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#1501412 - 08/23/10 07:45 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: Keith D Kerman]
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Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
His control of sound in this recording, even with the terrible compression of YouTube, is stunning. Dazzling. Remarkable. Let me get out my thesaurus for some more superlatives.
+1 Trouble is my thesaurus only covers mortals.
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#1501440 - 08/23/10 08:56 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: keyboardklutz]
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#1501472 - 08/23/10 10:27 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: beeboss]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Does Michelangeli wear some kind of whitish makeup on his face during many of those Youtube recordings(like the one on the previous post)? Together with his hair, that appears to be dyed poorly, it gives him an otherworldly apearance.

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#1501477 - 08/23/10 10:36 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: pianoloverus]
argerichfan Online   sick
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Just happened across this Michelangeli video on YouTube. Wonderful! In a year where I have heard this piece so many times, M's performance was refreshing.

Aren't some of the YouTube comments (in general) amazing? They run the gamut from perceptive to idiotic and asinine.
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#1501524 - 08/23/10 11:40 AM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: argerichfan]
DameMyra Offline
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Here is a video of Michelangeli playing some very unexpected repertoire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLok104tcCA
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#1501540 - 08/23/10 12:04 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: DameMyra]
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And here is the first movement!

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#1501609 - 08/23/10 02:25 PM Re: Machine like or artistic playing ? Michelangeli [Re: pianoloverus]
MikeN Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: MikeN
Yes, their isn't anything wrong with it, but is the unoffensive and "perfect" approach of greater value than a spontaneous and daredevil like approach? In the end I feel that this practically risk less, technically speaking, approach is just not conducive to music. I think every pianist must ask his/herself: Should I play it safe and produce a satisfactory product, or should I take risk and throw myself into the playing to produce a highly personal product, even though the end result may be sloppy.

Personally, I'll be pushing my limits and face the threat of falling off the bandwagon at every turn if I can move and excite my audience, and I think many on this forum would do the same.

I don't see what can be wrong with "perfection" or what that approach has to do with being as "unoffensive". Nor do I see anything necessarily good about "spontaneous" or "daredevil" pianism, although these words you chose have connotations implying they're good. Nor do I think that if someone has a perfect technique one should use 'riskless" to describe they're playing. It's only technically riskless for someone like Michelangeli in the sense that he can achieve what he wants with such a high degree of success.

Some great pianists play works somewhat differently each time and others tend to play works more similarly each time with a more fixed interpretation. I don't think either approach is better. I don't think playing a work somewhat differently each time(if that is what you mean in your post)involves taking more risks or is necessarily more personal or more exciting or avoids producing merely satisfactory results.

In fact, when pianisits like Horowitz and others say "I play it differently each time" my reaction is something like "everyone does that to some extent' or "so what?" or "is that a good thing or just a personal choice?"

Why is "pushing my limits" a good thing? If one's technique is good enough, I don't think one has too push one's limits in order to play a piece the way one wishes.

I think it's out of place for a 15 year old to describe Michelangeli's playing as "there's nothing wrong with it", "inoffensive", "riskless', "not conducive to music", "satisfactory", not "exciting".


I honestly don't care if you feel I'm out of place to make my own personally judgments and then share them on this forum. Once again I feel that you disregard the fact that this is a public forum and a platform for opinions regardless of age, background, or experience.

I'd also like to direct you to my earlier post on this topic where, though I don't characterize Michelangeli in such a broader light, I do present some of the characteristics that make Michelangeli worth listening to.

I remember yesterday listening to Michelangeli's recording of Chopin's 1st ballade. I have been listening to quite of bit of his recordings recently. I was annoyed with my own interpretation of the work and I was highly curious to hear once again what he'd do with the works. I wasn't disappointed, but I noticed something about Michelangeli that I hadn't before. While everyone else seemed to really give everything they had technically to get across their very personal viewpoints Michelangeli's aims were completely different. He left little to chance, and he took care to never allow his personal thoughts get in the way of the music. He took his time and at all times made sure that he never took things just a tiny bit faster than he could. Yes,I say could, because all pianist have limits. It the end the performance was pretty much "perfect", every "I" dotted every "T" crossed. The triples in the middle section were all grouped together in such a way as to remind you of chopin's aristocratic status.

Everything was nicely gift wrapped and I imagined how I'd feel if I did the same and fitted this larger than life work of Chopin to my own technique which could do the same albeit with a lack of the normal Michelangeli subtly. Yet, in the end I knew I couldn't be satisfied with such a performance.

So now that I've given you an idea of where I was coming from hopefully you'll understand my rather harsh words. I can say that I was listening to Michelangeli out of his element and that had I been listening to him in ravel or debussy than I might prise his detached yet also characteristic style.

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