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#1678819 - 05/16/11 03:42 PM Facial Expressions While Playing.
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1678831 - 05/16/11 04:03 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
i do, and it's all subconscious. but it's all really general stuff, like my eyebrow going up on a really high note, or that "holy [censored] i'm pounding this chord REALLY hard" grimace. there's no reason to suppress facial movment, unless you're lang lang. if you can keep your face completely motionless like horowitz, good for you...that doesn't exactly represent the majority of piano players though.

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#1678843 - 05/16/11 04:26 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
cardguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 977
I really hate it. Just find it a big fat turn-off.

I suppose mostly because I don't buy it. It's hard for me to believe that Yundi Li, just to pick someone out of the air, is really in a state of utter ecstasy while playing Chopin's 9/2 for what must be the 800,000th time...

I guess I'm just a cynic

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#1678844 - 05/16/11 04:28 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: fledgehog]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i do, and it's all subconscious. but it's all really general stuff, like my eyebrow going up on a really high note, or that "holy [censored] i'm pounding this chord REALLY hard" grimace. there's no reason to suppress facial movment, unless you're lang lang. if you can keep your face completely motionless like horowitz, good for you...that doesn't exactly represent the majority of piano players though.


Whats wrong with lang lang ? He really feels the music but yes his playing is so ligneous for Chopin. He shouldnt play Chopin. Also i noticed shy peoples always hiding their feelings. And i think horowitz in that category. I like Bozhanov's expressions they are so natural.
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1678852 - 05/16/11 04:36 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3752
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
[Lang Lang's] playing is so ligneous for Chopin...


Bathuan, English might not be your native language (as your signature says), but your vocabulary (probably influenced by non-English languages) is delightful. smile

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1678854 - 05/16/11 04:40 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: beet31425]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
[Lang Lang's] playing is so ligneous for Chopin...


Bathuan, English might not be your native language (as your signature says), but your vocabulary (probably influenced by non-English languages) is delightful. smile

-J


Yeah we use ligneous very much as idiom sometimes its really hard to express my feelings with english. But im trying to improve my english everyday.


Edited by Batuhan (05/16/11 04:40 PM)
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1678885 - 05/16/11 05:33 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I tend to prepare my music for the visually impaired though not for the musically impaired.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1678901 - 05/16/11 06:06 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Batuhan


Whats wrong with lang lang ?


He (still) sucks is what's wrong with him. Just wanted to clarify.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1678917 - 05/16/11 06:33 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
I don't use facial expressions when I play but I've been told I "move" too much.

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#1678920 - 05/16/11 06:37 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: stores]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Batuhan


Whats wrong with lang lang ?


He (still) sucks is what's wrong with him. Just wanted to clarify.


He speaks highly of you. Go figure.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1678925 - 05/16/11 06:47 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6284
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?


You can be a clown - or you can be a musician. Take your pick.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1678928 - 05/16/11 06:50 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
boo1234 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 508
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?


I think it's just ridiculous when people go over the top with all the weird faces and body contortions. IMO, if anything, it detracts from the music since you're watching what kind of stupid faces the performer is making and probably laughing quietly at the same time.

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#1678933 - 05/16/11 07:00 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I don't think I make facial expressions beyond closing my eyes, but I do move my body or head some. I don't "try" to do anything with my motions, though.

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#1678935 - 05/16/11 07:01 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: boo1234]
pianoman76 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/07/10
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?

You can be a clown - or you can be a musician. Take your pick.

A musician's worth is based on the music they create. You could close your eyes if you find their movements/expressions distracting. The music will sound the same either way, you're only changing what you choose to focus on.

Originally Posted By: boo1234
I think it's just ridiculous when people go over the top with all the weird faces and body contortions. IMO, if anything, it detracts from the music since you're watching what kind of stupid faces the performer is making and probably laughing quietly at the same time.

Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?

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#1678941 - 05/16/11 07:15 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: boo1234]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
Originally Posted By: boo1234
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?


I think it's just ridiculous when people go over the top with all the weird faces and body contortions. IMO, if anything, it detracts from the music since you're watching what kind of stupid faces the performer is making and probably laughing quietly at the same time.


that's an incredibly judgmental point of view. While i will agree that facial and bodily movements are not NECESSARY for good musicality, it's not like [most] people are deliberately being as blatant about it as they can just for the sake of showmanship. The other day I was watching Andre Watts playing the Liszt sonata in B minor on Youtube, and it looked like he spent 30 minutes having a heart attack, an orgasm, and un-anesthetized dental surgery all at the same time, but that didn't keep it from being one of the most electrifying and musically stimulating performances of the piece i've ever seen. I wasn't sitting there thinking "oh wow, that sounds cool but roflcopter i can't take it seriously with that face".

Now, allow me to clarify what may be perceived as hypocrisy by some. I criticize Lang Lang's ridiculous gestures because he IS doing what you mention and clowning around at the keyboard. I forget what piece or performance it was (but for some reason i want to say either Liszt Liebestraum or Chopin 27/2), but I was watching his performance and on some really sweet note that he applied a disgusting amount of rubato/ritard to, he turned to the audience and gave them this coy look like "awww yeah!" with that dumb goofball smile of his. THAT's unnecessary and causes me to lose some respect for the performer.

EDIT: oh, and i've definitely seen him deliberately look at the camera before. it works when you're Jim Halpert from The Office, but doesn't fly when you're a (supposed) world-class concert pianist.


Edited by fledgehog (05/16/11 07:28 PM)

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#1678947 - 05/16/11 07:32 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
jesseoffy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/10
Posts: 240
A few, relatively subtle facial expression are fine, especially if they just come from the feeling of the piece. It probably will help you feel the piece a bit more, though don't become another Lang Lang (this also applies to body movements). Although I don't really like his playing (ok, I don't like watching him at all) he probably does for show - playing show pieces and putting on a lot of flaire. Just do what is natural to you, I guess, or whatever gets the most standing ovations. laugh
_________________________
Chopin, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninov

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#1678950 - 05/16/11 07:38 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
riley80 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/03/08
Posts: 380
Loc: Florida
I'm pretty much deadpan when playing, but there are certain passages which cause me to involuntarily work my mouth into a crooked sneer for a few seconds. I have tried to break this habit, but one might as well tell me to stop blinking.

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#1678956 - 05/16/11 07:48 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Frozenicicles Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Why is it considered inappropriate unless a classical pianist totally ignores the audience? Actors make asides all the time (some not written into the script). I mean, who are you really performing for? The composer is long dead, but the audience is alive and paid for their tickets. IMO, some amount of movement is good because it helps with communication. Chamber groups often move around a lot and rely on visual cues with each other to make a great performance. Likewise, soloists can use body and facial expressions to communicate with the conductor. In an orchestra, the concert master and section leaders use visual cues to communicate with the rest of the performers. This shows that it is difficult to use sound alone to communicate the whole message. If this is acceptable, why is it inappropriate for a musician to communicate to the audience via visual cues?

I don't deliberately move around too much or change my facial expressions because it would probably screw up my playing, but those who can do it well definitely add an advantage to their performances.

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#1678961 - 05/16/11 07:53 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoman76]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19267
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


I think this is an interesting question. I don't have an answer, but I can tell you what Alfred Brendel did. Some of his friends told him that both his facial expressions and arm movements were detracting from his performances. Having concluded they were correct, Brendel installed mirrors on the sides of his piano at home so he could monitor his expressions/movements. He said that before he did this he once had a performance of the Brahms Handel Variations where his arms flew up so violently at the end that this glasses went flying across the stage.

I think the problem of facial expressions etc. is somewhat overblown because:

1. The number of famous pianists who do this to what I would call an extreme is very small IMO. I can only think of LL, Bozhanov, Watts, and Uchida.

2. The Youtube views are often much closer than anyone would be in a concert hall, and most people in a live concert see more of a profile view than is sometimes seen on Youtube. Even Bozhanov doesn't look so bizarre, at least to me, when he is shown in profile. I have seen Uchida at least 5 times and never noticed any distracting expressions that can sometimes be seen in Youtube close ups.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/16/11 07:56 PM)

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#1678964 - 05/16/11 07:58 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Joy M. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/15/11
Posts: 3
Loc: USA
Everything in moderation! I prefer performances where the performer's movements seem natural and suit the mood and emotions of the music (regardless of the genre of music). I've seen stiff performances where the performer doesn't move. This usually doesn't bother me much. I've also seen performances where the performer moves WAY too much to the point that it's distracting -- but more importantly, to the point that it doesn't fit the musicality that is audible in the music. That's when it bothers me the most. Movement can reinforce musicality/emotion in the music, but it doesn't create it!

If people are telling you that you make faces or move too much, I suggest videotaping yourself and seeing what you look like. I'm sure it's a tough habit to break, but it's probably worth it.
_________________________
Pianist & Teacher
Color In My Piano blog

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#1678968 - 05/16/11 08:06 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Frozenicicles]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19267
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
Why is it considered inappropriate unless a classical pianist totally ignores the audience?
I think your statement assumes that not making expressions or movements means the pianist is ignoring the audience.
Originally Posted By: rozencicles
Chamber groups often move around a lot and rely on visual cues with each other to make a great performance. Likewise, soloists can use body and facial expressions to communicate with the conductor. In an orchestra, the concert master and section leaders use visual cues to communicate with the rest of the performers.
Those are to communicate timing etc. with other musicians with whom they are playing. In a solo recital, the pianist is not playing with anyone.



Edited by pianoloverus (05/16/11 08:06 PM)

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#1678969 - 05/16/11 08:09 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Joy M.]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19267
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Joy M.
I've also seen performances where the performer moves WAY too much to the point that it's distracting -- but more importantly, to the point that it doesn't fit the musicality that is audible in the music. That's when it bothers me the most. Movement can reinforce musicality/emotion in the music, but it doesn't create it!
This is exactly why Brendel said he decided he should try and change his movements/expressions.

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#1678979 - 05/16/11 08:25 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
i still don't see what the huge deal is with something like flinging your arms up in the air at a loud piece ending or something. why do people move their hands around when talking? Why do they do things like tap their fingers or stroke their chins when pondering something? Would it be considered over-the-top if a violinist or a violist lifted their bow dramatically and vigorously at the end of an exciting piece? Everybody's body is wired differently -- as i said before, if you can play with everything except your forearms and fingers remaining still as a rock, good for you...but if in the PROCESS of making music you HAPPEN to flail your arms all over the place and jump up and down on the bench, does it honestly make even the slightest bit of difference? If anything, making a conscious effort to remove these habits would cause a decline in musical content because you have to worry about something else at the same time.

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#1678992 - 05/16/11 08:52 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoman76]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6284
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
[
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


This topic has been discussed TO DEATH in these forums. But to address your statement above, if its a "subconscious" thing (i.e., Andre Watts) then I really don't have a problem with it. When it is done intentionally (i.e., Lang Lang)...then it bothers me. Just my personal opinion, of course.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1678993 - 05/16/11 08:55 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: carey]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
[
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


This topic has been discussed TO DEATH in these forums. But to address your statement above, if its a "subconscious" thing (i.e., Andre Watts) then I really don't have a problem with it. When it is done intentionally (i.e., Lang Lang)...then it bothers me. Just my personal opinion, of course.


I share your personal opinion! smile
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1679010 - 05/16/11 09:23 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
Whats wrong with lang lang ? .... I like Bozhanov's expressions they are so natural.


Lang Lang's expressions are practiced, contrived and exaggerated. As such they do not convey true inner feeling as much "bad" acting to portray feeling. (Nothing that properly placed cattle prods & a Louisville Slugger couldn't correct and prove a beneficial cure for society, mind you.)

Bozahnov's expression are seemingly natural.

Also check out Oscar Peterson on "YouTube" if you care to to see natural, spontaneous expression that coveys sincere inner feelings and feedback with his audience.

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#1679013 - 05/16/11 09:28 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: fledgehog]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i still don't see what the huge deal is with something like flinging your arms up in the air at a loud piece ending or something. why do people move their hands around when talking? Why do they do things like tap their fingers or stroke their chins when pondering something? Would it be considered over-the-top if a violinist or a violist lifted their bow dramatically and vigorously at the end of an exciting piece? Everybody's body is wired differently -- as i said before, if you can play with everything except your forearms and fingers remaining still as a rock, good for you...but if in the PROCESS of making music you HAPPEN to flail your arms all over the place and jump up and down on the bench, does it honestly make even the slightest bit of difference? If anything, making a conscious effort to remove these habits would cause a decline in musical content because you have to worry about something else at the same time.


Emotional exuberant spontaneity is a pleasure to behold. An actor provocateur working hard to convey emotional exuberant spontaneity is artificial, contrived and displeasing.

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#1679122 - 05/17/11 02:23 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoman76]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: pianoman76

Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


The expressions are NOT subconcious. When Lang Lang acts like Lang Lang, or Angela Hewitt acts like Angela Hewitt, ect., they KNOW they are doing it. In fact, I would bet money they make an effort to practice it that way.

Watch Lang Lang here, it's like he has flipped a switch and is a instant state of bliss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubVVSWHkxs8
Same thing with Angela Hewitt, it's like flipping a switch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAeLjliS1LY

The whole performance is spent in a state of, what we are supposed to believe is, pure ecstasy; however, it just doesn't happen like that (especially in front of large audiences), and if it does, it is so rare as to be irrelevant.

Tolstoy had a great analogy:
The musician is like the swan gliding across the water, on the surface it is graceful and elegant, but underneath the water its feet are flapping like mad and agitating the water profusely. (I am paraphrasing, of course). Everything above the water is what we hear (and see), and everything beneath the water is representative of the musicians mind.

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#1679163 - 05/17/11 05:58 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Where can I find that Tolstoy quote exactly?

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#1679164 - 05/17/11 06:01 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: debrucey]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Friend of mine said I mostly look contemplative but occasionally strained or anxious. What do you think?

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#1679185 - 05/17/11 07:14 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4964
Do we go to concerts to watch robots? If performers' facial or body movements annoy people, wouldn't it be better to listen to a faceless CD at home?

The Berliner Philharmoniker is probably the world's most overtly demonstrative orchestra (I exclude occasions when the Simon Bolivar Orchestra do their encores of course) - the way the violinists sway and gyrate in time with each other, the way the woodwind wiggle their instruments...and they're also probably the world's greatest orchestra. Do they rehearse their body movements before concerts?

I've no problem with Lang Lang's facial expressions or his exuberant gestures. He conveys joy in his music-making, which seems to me entirely appropriate and apposite. Grimaces from the likes of Brendel disturb me far more - playing a sublime phrase with a painful expression is somewhat off-putting grin. To assume that pianists rehearse their facial expressions in front of the mirror like they practise their pieces is to give them more self-awareness than they're due and/or afford them the same perspective that pop performers rehearse for their stage antics.

When I was younger, I used to be very self-conscious when I play in front of someone other than my teacher or family, and try to avoid any facial expressions of any sort. These days, I don't give a dam* what people think of my facial expressions or my arm gestures. And from the video that a friend did while I was playing piano on holiday, I'd avoid going to any of my own live performances.... grin

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#1679281 - 05/17/11 10:05 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: bennevis]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Do we go to concerts to watch robots? If performers' facial or body movements annoy people, wouldn't it be better to listen to a faceless CD at home?...


Yeh, CD's are the only way I listen to Hewitt.

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#1679283 - 05/17/11 10:07 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: carey]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
[
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


This topic has been discussed TO DEATH in these forums. But to address your statement above, if its a "subconscious" thing (i.e., Andre Watts) then I really don't have a problem with it. When it is done intentionally (i.e., Lang Lang)...then it bothers me. Just my personal opinion, of course.


Spot on!

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#1679293 - 05/17/11 10:21 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
Originally Posted By: pianoman76

Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


The expressions are NOT subconscious. When Lang Lang acts like Lang Lang, or Angela Hewitt acts like Angela Hewitt, ect., they KNOW they are doing it. In fact, I would bet money they make an effort to practice it that way.


For very detailed complex work, it's hard to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Think of it: how many performers are accomplished at not merely very good but stupendous multitask performance, (be it a combination of playing singing, dancing &/or acting)? I can only think of Callas and Astaire.

Hewitt and Lang focus on the entire "gestalt of the act" which detracts and diffuses the purity of the piece at hand. The result of their multitasking performances can be "ligneous" music.

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#1679295 - 05/17/11 10:25 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: bennevis]
boo1234 Online   content
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
To assume that pianists rehearse their facial expressions in front of the mirror like they practise their pieces is to give them more self-awareness than they're due and/or afford them the same perspective that pop performers rehearse for their stage antics.


Well, look in the beginning of this masterclass video by Maria Joao Pires and she is clearly telling the student to practice making body gestures. He looks completely uncomfortable with her suggestion and realizes how ridiculous he looks.



Edited by boo1234 (05/17/11 10:26 AM)

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#1679298 - 05/17/11 10:31 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Pogorelich. Offline
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You know what, by doing that stuff you are only adding expression....... to your face, not the music. Instead of pouring it on the keyboard, it's going to your face. Would you rather look expressive or sound expressive?
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#1679300 - 05/17/11 10:32 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Btw, that masterclass video is ridiculous - seriously??????
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#1679312 - 05/17/11 10:48 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
bennevis Offline
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I've attended lots of masterclasses over the years and seen many more on TV and DVD, but this is the first time I've seen anyone tell a student to put on 'expression' via gestures. My opinion of Pires has sunk..................

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#1679326 - 05/17/11 11:14 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
cardguy Offline
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That video is embarrassing. The woman is a lunatic, I don't care how well she plays.

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#1679347 - 05/17/11 11:49 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
debrucey Offline
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I've heard much more ridiculous things from teachers in masterclasses lol.

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#1679362 - 05/17/11 12:35 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
pianoloverus Offline
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Pires performs with very minimal gestures and facial expressions in concert. I think the 30 seconds in that video that some disapprove of could be just as easily seen as her attempt to convey something about the music to the student vs. a suggestion to perform with certain movements/expressions.

I think there are occasions when some consciously added movement can add something to the performance. I remember Fialkowska explaining this to a student about the performance of the opening two chords of the Chopin b minor Scherzo.

For me, the ideal amount of facial expressivity would be someone like Haochen Zhang or Blechacz. When I can tell a pianist is completely in love with the music, for me this adds something to the performance. I can, however, understand that some very good pianists might feel that even Zhang's expressions are too much or detract from his ability to play in the best way.

Pires playing Chopin Nocturne in F
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnCC0dMNUvE

Zhang plays Liszt Spanish Rhapsody
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkW1HKWpZfM

Blechacz Chopin Competition winner's recital
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L28aSoUfp6Q



Edited by pianoloverus (05/17/11 01:43 PM)

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#1679389 - 05/17/11 01:23 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
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Pires seems like a very "artistic" pianist, saying things like "all the world is mine" (cf. "had we but world enough and time"), and "your soul is opening to something unknown." It's understandable how some more cerebral players might find that approach...just plain icky.

Sometimes a musician can be so encapsulated in his or her habits, or approach, that it might take something like actual physical motion (as she is telling the blond guy to move his head a certain way), to make the point. Words or demonstration might not make a dent. And like she is telling the second girl in this clip, you have to exaggerate something, or feel like you are exaggerating, just to make a slight difference in the actual performance-- you will be extremely conscious of making even a slight change, but you need to consciously overdo it to make a change noticeable to others. I totally understand where Pires is coming from. That blond guy might feel ridiculous, but he might get something he can tap into later, when he runs into a wall with trying to understand or interpret a piece.

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#1679396 - 05/17/11 01:33 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: debrucey]
polyphasicpianist Offline
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Originally Posted By: debrucey
Where can I find that Tolstoy quote exactly?


I either read it in War and Peace or Anna Karenina, I can't remember which (which is why I paraphrased). I know that really doesn't narrow it down much. But my gut tells me that it was War and Peace. I think it may have been in reference to Prince Andre's sister's harpsichord playing. I am really not sure, I read both books about 2 years ago. It wasn't in The Kreutzer Sonata, which seems like the obvious place for such a quote, I know this because I have never read that story but am aware of it, so it seems impossible that I recollected it from there.

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#1679406 - 05/17/11 01:45 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
PianoBot Offline
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I find those Pires masterclass videos hard to watch. Her teaching method seems to involve intimidating and bullying her students.

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#1679447 - 05/17/11 02:43 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: boo1234]
Batuhan Offline
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Originally Posted By: boo1234
Originally Posted By: bennevis
To assume that pianists rehearse their facial expressions in front of the mirror like they practise their pieces is to give them more self-awareness than they're due and/or afford them the same perspective that pop performers rehearse for their stage antics.


Well, look in the beginning of this masterclass video by Maria Joao Pires and she is clearly telling the student to practice making body gestures. He looks completely uncomfortable with her suggestion and realizes how ridiculous he looks.



This woman is sick has psychological problems. But she is good Chopin interpreter no doubt.


Edited by Batuhan (05/17/11 02:44 PM)
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#1679460 - 05/17/11 03:04 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Amant]
polyphasicpianist Offline
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Originally Posted By: Amant
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
Originally Posted By: pianoman76

Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


The expressions are NOT subconscious. When Lang Lang acts like Lang Lang, or Angela Hewitt acts like Angela Hewitt, ect., they KNOW they are doing it. In fact, I would bet money they make an effort to practice it that way.


For very detailed complex work, it's hard to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Think of it: how many performers are accomplished at not merely very good but stupendous multitask performance, (be it a combination of playing singing, dancing &/or acting)? I can only think of Callas and Astaire.

Hewitt and Lang focus on the entire "gestalt of the act" which detracts and diffuses the purity of the piece at hand. The result of their multitasking performances can be "ligneous" music.


I don't think they are focusing on their gestures, per se. Their movements and facial expressions have been worked into the performance and are on "auto-pilot" (i.e. procedural memory) just as much as any fast intricate passage with the fingers is. It has all been chunked by the brain into one behavioural event. They may become aware of their movements at various points in the performance but it is not as if they need to focus on them, meaning multi-tasking does not become a issue.

As an example, watch Jonathan Biss in this masterclass, when Barrenboim gets him to play excerpts you can clearly see by their instantaneous nature that his gestures have been practiced into the work as much as the correct notes and rhythm:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHgfuf-Nn-Q&feature=related

These types of performers could have just as easily practised not-gesturing-weirdly and played the piece equally as well (or bad as the case may be). But they know that it is simpler to look profound than sound profound so they practice in such a way as to deceive their audience into believing that their playing is so good that they have channelled some deep vat of emotional ecstasy.

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#1679468 - 05/17/11 03:22 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
As an example, watch Jonathan Biss in this masterclass, when Barrenboim gets him to play excerpts you can clearly see by their instantaneous nature that his gestures have been practiced into the work as much as the correct notes and rhythm:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHgfuf-Nn-Q&feature=related

These types of performers could have just as easily practised not-gesturing-weirdly and played the piece equally as well (or bad as the case may be). But they know that it is simpler to look profound than sound profound so they practice in such a way as to deceive their audience into believing that their playing is so good that they have channelled some deep vat of emotional ecstasy.
I think all the above is just opinion and many, including me, would disagree. In the very first clip Bliss is playing the climax of one of the greatest sonatas and I don't find his movements inappropriate or an interference. I certainly don't think he planned them so he could look profound and fool the audience.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/17/11 03:40 PM)

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#1679470 - 05/17/11 03:23 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
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Sometimes my teacher tells me I need to act more. She says if you act like you are playing loud it will sound louder. Also, one time another pianist at my school was playing Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in studio class and she wasn't moving or making any faces, and my teacher told her that she looked bored and not into it and that made the music sound boring. She told her to look up Lang Lang and do about a third of what he does. She has also told me the same thing. I'm not sure if I buy it. I only move as much as necessary to make the sounds I want, isn't that enough?

Speaking of Mozart, he was on the opposite end of the debate from my teacher I believe. He said, "I do not make grimaces and yet play with such expression..." and he made fun of people who "flop about."


Edited by WinsomeAllegretto (05/17/11 03:24 PM)

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#1679478 - 05/17/11 03:35 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Frozenicicles Offline
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I had a teacher who told me that all of the expression should go into the music. Sometimes, she still advised me to ham it up for certain sections to add to the performance. For example, if you're playing a really dramatic and unexpected chord progression, it would totally kill the mood if you slowly and leisurely prepared for it, no matter what you sound like. At the end of a really beautiful lyrical section, you need to kind of freeze and let the music sink in rather than jerking your hands away and onto a new phrase.

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#1679486 - 05/17/11 03:58 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoloverus]
polyphasicpianist Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think all the above is just opinion and many, including me, would disagree. In the very first clip Bliss is playing the climax of one of the greatest sonatas and I don't find his movements inappropriate or an interference. I certainly don't think he planned them so he could look profound and fool the audience.


Sorry, I should have been more clear. I didn't mean to suggest they were planned in a choreographed and sinister sense. What I meant to convey was that these performers know these types of gestures can get a positive reaction out of a audience and they will actively try to incorporate them into pieces for this vary reason, this aspect may be subconcious. In all likelihood they have been reinforced for this behaviour, they have seen others reinforced for this behaviour, and therefore quite naturally engage in this behaviour for those vary reasons. I should have been more clear and said "they know, intuitively (via mechanisms of operant conditioning), that it is simpler to look profound than sound profound." The deception I referred to lies in the fact that they are, weather they realize it or not, using their ostentatious movements as a potential mask of the music.

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#1679487 - 05/17/11 04:00 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Sometimes my teacher tells me I need to act more. She says if you act like you are playing loud it will sound louder. Also, one time another pianist at my school was playing Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in studio class and she wasn't moving or making any faces, and my teacher told her that she looked bored and not into it and that made the music sound boring. She told her to look up Lang Lang and do about a third of what he does. She has also told me the same thing. I'm not sure if I buy it. I only move as much as necessary to make the sounds I want, isn't that enough?



Yes, I believe that that is enough. No, I do not recommend watching (or even listening, haha) to Lang Lang. Or even watching great pianists like Angela Hewitt and Mitsiku Uchida JUST for "advice" on moving around. I sort of get where your teacher is coming from, but that inherently has nothing (in my opinion) of moving around or other external features, but your inner love and connection to the music, which is in my opinion of MUCH greater importance.

If moving around were important, Horowitz and Rubinstein would have been bad artists would they?

Unless there is a problem with hand position/posture/the like, could she not instead instruct you based off of just what she hears? My teacher walks across the room, often looks down and closes his eyes, and focuses really hard on things like sound, tone, phrasing, details, and yet at the same time, the overall big picture. Of course, our teachers are different people and I don't think all teachers should teach the same... But do you see what I'm getting at?

Finally, this worries me:

Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Sometimes my teacher tells me I need to act more. She says if you act like you are playing loud it will sound louder.


I feel that it is more accurate to say that if you can HEAR a louder/more powerful sound then you can produce a louder/more powerful sound. After all, you need to know in your mind the sound you want to produce, not what you look like when you do it. And about acting, I ask "Why act? Why not be real? Why not be sincere? Why not squeeze it from the bottom of your heart?" All of this of course within careful consideration of the score.


Edited by Orange Soda King (05/17/11 04:09 PM)

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#1679489 - 05/17/11 04:08 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Pogorelich.]
Amant Offline
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Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
You know what, by doing that stuff you are only adding expression....... to your face, not the music. Instead of pouring it on the keyboard, it's going to your face. Would you rather look expressive or sound expressive?


Well said & in full agreement.

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#1679491 - 05/17/11 04:14 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Amant Offline
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Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Sometimes my teacher tells me I need to act more.... She told her to look up Lang Lang and do about a third of what he does.
Speaking of Mozart, he was on the opposite end of the debate from my teacher I believe. He said, "I do not make grimaces and yet play with such expression..." and he made fun of people who "flop about."


Get rid of your present teacher post haste, and get one steeped in the Mozart tradition.

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#1679492 - 05/17/11 04:14 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Orange Soda King]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
Sometimes my teacher tells me I need to act more. She says if you act like you are playing loud it will sound louder. Also, one time another pianist at my school was playing Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in studio class and she wasn't moving or making any faces, and my teacher told her that she looked bored and not into it and that made the music sound boring. She told her to look up Lang Lang and do about a third of what he does. She has also told me the same thing. I'm not sure if I buy it. I only move as much as necessary to make the sounds I want, isn't that enough?



Yes, I believe that that is enough. No, I do not recommend watching (or even listening, haha) to Lang Lang. Or even watching great pianists like Angela Hewitt and Mitsiku Uchida JUST for "advice" on moving around. I sort of get where your teacher is coming from, but that inherently has nothing (in my opinion) of moving around or other external features, but your inner love and connection to the music, which is in my opinion of MUCH greater importance.

If moving around were important, Horowitz and Rubinstein would have been bad artists would they?

Unless there is a problem with hand position/posture/the like, could she not instead instruct you based off of just what she hears? My teacher walks across the room, often looks down and closes his eyes, and focuses really hard on things like sound, tone, phrasing, details, and yet at the same time, the overall big picture. Of course, our teachers are different people and I don't think all teachers should teach the same... But do you see what I'm getting at?


I agree - I wouldn't recommend imitating Lang Lang. When I showed my friend a video of Lang Lang, she laughed.

Sometimes when my teacher tells me to act more or use more movements I can see where it does help the sound (such as using more body weight to play louder), but a lot of times I think she just says it for the sake of "acting" for the audience. I think a recital/concert should be about the sound of the music, not necessarily about ME (I'm not fond of people staring at me haha), but I can sort of see the other side too...I guess acting out what you are feeling can communicate to the audience that you care about what you are doing, and visuals can add to the experience. But I don't see the good of it enough to actually put it into practice.

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#1679494 - 05/17/11 04:18 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoloverus]
Amant Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
...
I think there are occasions when some consciously added movement can add something to the performance. ...


Needless motion is inefficient, wastes the body's stores of energy, and detracts from focused brain function.

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#1679497 - 05/17/11 04:21 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: WinsomeAllegretto]
Amant Offline
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Originally Posted By: WinsomeAllegretto
... Sometimes when my teacher tells me to act more ...


Acting comes from the head, feeling comes from the heart.

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#1679503 - 05/17/11 04:32 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Amant]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Amant
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
You know what, by doing that stuff you are only adding expression....... to your face, not the music. Instead of pouring it on the keyboard, it's going to your face. Would you rather look expressive or sound expressive?


Well said & in full agreement.
I don't think it'a choice of one or the other. There's quite a range of movement/facial expression among the great pianists. One thing that makes this discussion difficult is one person's idea of a lot of movement can be another person's idea of minimal movement.

I do think that only a small number of great pianists did what I would call a lot of extra movement/facial expressions. But I also think that many would consider pianists like Serkin, Brendel, and Uchida to be great pianists.

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#1679510 - 05/17/11 04:40 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Amant]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Amant
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
...
I think there are occasions when some consciously added movement can add something to the performance. ...


Needles wasted motion is inefficient, wastes the body's stores of energy, and detracts from focused brain function.
The example I gave was for two chords of the Chopin Scherzo. Fialkowska, who I think is a terrific pianist, said something like the opening two chords were so startling, fierce, brutal, demonic, etc. that just playing them ff wasn't quite enough to express this to the audience. For her this was one special spot that needed something extra. She was not advocating doing this often, and two chords is not going to cause any of the problems you mentioned.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/17/11 04:45 PM)

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#1679542 - 05/17/11 05:39 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
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#1679562 - 05/17/11 05:59 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
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Sometimes your facial/body expressions can translate into sound. I have heard that smiling when you're talking on the phone makes you sound more happy. It might not be that pianists are employing these movements to impress the audience, but that it genuinely helps them put more expression into the music.

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#1679565 - 05/17/11 06:00 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Saul]
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#1679579 - 05/17/11 06:17 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
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Uchida was probably conducting but LL wasn't.

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#1679589 - 05/17/11 06:31 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
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My current favorite "expressionist." Cyprien Katsaris. Scattered throughout this great rendition are also some great looks-- at the beginning, at 1:20, 2:10, 3:25. The one at 1:20 gets its own inset. If anyone can describe what he might be thinking at 3:25 I would appreciate it! Mad scientist? crazy



Edited by cefinow (05/17/11 06:32 PM)
Edit Reason: identify CK

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#1679611 - 05/17/11 07:08 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Frozenicicles]
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Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
Sometimes your facial/body expressions can translate into sound. I have heard that smiling when you're talking on the phone makes you sound more happy. It might not be that pianists are employing these movements to impress the audience, but that it genuinely helps them put more expression into the music.


vocals are an entirely separate field altogether -- speaking, singing, or anything else. The shape of your mouth has a drastic effect on your annunciation and articulation. That's one of many factors that allow us to hear a person's emotion even when we can't see them. (I'm sure you've noticed even with rock or jazz records that you can tell when the singer has a huge grin on their face or when they're making an intense angry face).
I'm sure there's a SIMILAR relationship with piano playing -- having that look on your face helps put you in the right mindset, but it isn't as direct a connection as the example you gave.

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#1679621 - 05/17/11 07:25 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: fledgehog]
polyphasicpianist Offline
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I don't think anyone here is objecting to normal/human facial expressions, its when you enter the realm of the bizarre and ostentatious that people have an objection. In real-life experiences of profound emotion people simply don't act like Lang Lang and company, why should piano-playing be any exception.

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#1679624 - 05/17/11 07:30 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
boo1234 Online   content
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Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist


Someone needs to tell her to take off the plastic pancho since it's not raining inside the concert hall lol

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#1679629 - 05/17/11 07:43 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
boo1234 Online   content
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Speaking of Uchida, she didn't always make weird faces...



Which leads me to wonder when and why she developed them


Edited by boo1234 (05/17/11 07:43 PM)

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#1679639 - 05/17/11 08:07 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoloverus]
fledgehog Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Uchida was probably conducting but LL wasn't.


ugh another Lang Lang-ism that I can't stand...when one of his hands doesn't have to play for a couple of beats and he does that fake conducting waving crap in front of the fallboard...i don't care how into the piece you are, it doesn't add anything, unless you're conducting an orchestra as well.

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#1679680 - 05/17/11 09:38 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Just as yourself the question: Is what you're doing at the keyboard improving the quality of the music coming out? If big actions and facial expressions do improve the quality of the sound you're making, go for it. Otherwise, your effort should be allocated elsewhere...
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#1679685 - 05/17/11 09:48 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Kuanpiano]
Saul Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Just as yourself the question: Is what you're doing at the keyboard improving the quality of the music coming out? If big actions and facial expressions do improve the quality of the sound you're making, go for it. Otherwise, your effort should be allocated elsewhere...


Just ask yourself the question : Does chewing a gum improve the quality of the music coming out?

If yes, should we all say Moo at the piano?

Some things are better left out from the piano, and it doesn’t matter if in fact it improves or doesn’t improve the 'quality of music'... 'coming out'... LOL
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#1679686 - 05/17/11 09:51 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2137
Loc: Canada
If I'm listening to a CD with great music coming out, I could care less what you're doing while the pianist is playing.


Edited by Kuanpiano (05/17/11 09:51 PM)
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#1679772 - 05/18/11 12:43 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Saul]
pianoman76 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/07/10
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By: Saul
Just ask yourself the question : Does chewing a gum improve the quality of the music coming out?

If yes, should we all say Moo at the piano?

Even if it doesn't make any sense to me, if their play does somehow actually improve when they chew gum, then I would support their chewing habit. You would rather hear lower quality music because you don't think chewing gum is suitable at the piano? When someone starts choosing something so trivial over the quality of the music, then I guess they don't care very much about music.

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#1679830 - 05/18/11 04:03 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7784
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
I don't think anyone here is objecting to normal/human facial expressions, its when you enter the realm of the bizarre and ostentatious that people have an objection. In real-life experiences of profound emotion people simply don't act like Lang Lang and company, why should piano-playing be any exception.


Piano-playing is an art, that's why. People in real life don't move about by standing on their toes and spinning, either, but that doesn't invalidate ballet.

I am not particularly wanting to encourage all sorts of acting out at the keyboard, but on the other hand, I don't think comparing what happens at the keyboard to "normal" life experiences is really all that valid. Playing the piano is actually a rather bizarre activity, after all.

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#1679869 - 05/18/11 06:23 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4964
How true - there's nothing people do in real life that remotely simulates playing a keyboard. Which is why people with no inhibitions and very extrovert personalities (Lang Lang, Keith Jarrett, Mitsuko Uchida etc) have such, er, wide-ranging body and facial movements.

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#1679876 - 05/18/11 06:40 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Recaredo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/11
Posts: 1087
Loc: Southeast of Spain
I love this woman. Some people say that her facial expressions are exaggerated, but I feel her expressions are very communicative.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXL5M38yIP4&feature=fvsr

Cheers.


Edited by Recaredo (05/18/11 06:44 AM)
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#1679891 - 05/18/11 07:24 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I am reserved in public and expressive in private. I don't believe in drawing attention to one's self. Oddly, I encouraged my very reserved piano student to be a bit more expressive in this one recital.. She wasn't, but she did play with a bit of drama.

All that said, I think Mitsuko Uchida and Lang Lang both are very beautiful.. perhaps because of their over the top expressiveness.

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#1679905 - 05/18/11 07:49 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: boo1234]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: boo1234
Speaking of Uchida, she didn't always make weird faces...



Which leads me to wonder when and why she developed them


Off topic, I corrected the pitch. It's still crazy fast. Wanna have fun? Play both videos at the same time! laugh


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#1679964 - 05/18/11 09:30 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Frozenicicles]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
Sometimes your facial/body expressions can translate into sound. I have heard that smiling when you're talking on the phone makes you sound more happy.

Quite right. When gestures are spontaneous, unconscious and driven by the heart's feeling, the communication (speaking singing, playing, dancing, etc.) is enhanced.
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
It might not be that pianists are employing these movements to impress the audience, but that it genuinely helps them put more expression into the music.

Quite wrong. In this case the contrived gestures are consciously rehearsed, and driven by the head's calculations, and the resulting communication (speaking singing, playing, dancing etc.) is diminished.

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#1679970 - 05/18/11 09:34 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist


From the looks of it I'd assume that she was one of Macbeth's witches. Double, double toil and trouble, ... and all that rot.

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#1679986 - 05/18/11 09:55 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: wr]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
I don't think anyone here is objecting to normal/human facial expressions, its when you enter the realm of the bizarre and ostentatious that people have an objection. In real-life experiences of profound emotion people simply don't act like Lang Lang and company, why should piano-playing be any exception.


Piano-playing is an art, that's why. People in real life don't move about by standing on their toes and spinning, either, but that doesn't invalidate ballet.

I am not particularly wanting to encourage all sorts of acting out at the keyboard, but on the other hand, I don't think comparing what happens at the keyboard to "normal" life experiences is really all that valid. Playing the piano is actually a rather bizarre activity, after all.


Yes playing piano is an art, but it is a musical art. You don't play piano with your face, you play it with your hands and arms and feet. Also, Ballet is a bad analogy for two reasons. 1) Ballet movements are actually used to describe the narritive of the ballet, they are not just there to look good. 2) You watch performances of Ballet and, presumably, listen to performances of Piano.
The priority of the musical artist is the music. If the visuals are distracting from the music, then, from a live performance situation anyway, they are not being true to their art.

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#1680006 - 05/18/11 10:36 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19267
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
You watch performances of Ballet and, presumably, listen to performances of Piano.
Most people watch and listen to a live performance. Only a small percentage of the audience closes their eyes. I think whatever the pianist does visually, even if they choose to do "nothing", is an important part of the performance. (This is not the same thing as saying I favor over the top faces or movements or that the visual part is the most important part.)

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#1680010 - 05/18/11 10:49 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Hank Drake Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1659
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
The pianists I enjoy watching, as well as hearing, are the ones whose expressions are controlled: Hofmann, Horowitz, Horszowski, especially Rubinstein. Same with conductors - the one who I enjoy watching the most is Toscanini: he's conducting the orchestra, not the audience.

What an aristocratic bearing Rubinstein had, particularly in his later years. He seldom looked at the keys, looking upward while he recalled the score in his mind's eye. Horowitz emotions didn't register on his face because they went directly into the playing, the only physical manifestation was a slight tension on the right side of his face - particularly during trills and rapid passagework.

I think Andre Watts is an underrated pianist (Sony's neglect of his discograpy is shameful), but cannot bear to watch him. As for Lang Lang, don't much like what I see or what I hear.

I've only seen Uchida conducting Mozart Concertos from the keyboard. Her back was to the audience, so I didn't see her face.
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The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
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#1680017 - 05/18/11 10:56 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Hank Drake Offline
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Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 1659
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
On a related note, I recently saw an old video of myself playing. What stuck me was not any facial expression or lack thereof, but what nice hair I used to have. smirk
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The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell

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#1680220 - 05/18/11 04:56 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: polyphasicpianist]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7784
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
I don't think anyone here is objecting to normal/human facial expressions, its when you enter the realm of the bizarre and ostentatious that people have an objection. In real-life experiences of profound emotion people simply don't act like Lang Lang and company, why should piano-playing be any exception.


Piano-playing is an art, that's why. People in real life don't move about by standing on their toes and spinning, either, but that doesn't invalidate ballet.

I am not particularly wanting to encourage all sorts of acting out at the keyboard, but on the other hand, I don't think comparing what happens at the keyboard to "normal" life experiences is really all that valid. Playing the piano is actually a rather bizarre activity, after all.


Yes playing piano is an art, but it is a musical art. You don't play piano with your face, you play it with your hands and arms and feet. Also, Ballet is a bad analogy for two reasons. 1) Ballet movements are actually used to describe the narritive of the ballet, they are not just there to look good. 2) You watch performances of Ballet and, presumably, listen to performances of Piano.
The priority of the musical artist is the music. If the visuals are distracting from the music, then, from a live performance situation anyway, they are not being true to their art.


Yes, I realized when posting, that if taken as a direct analogy, the ballet example was not a good one. I expect you got the point anyway, which was that playing the piano isn't really "normal" life, and so perhaps one should not really expect the performers have the same sort of facial expressions and physical movements as most of us do in everyday life.

The interesting thing about the visuals is that what may be distracting to one listener is enhancing or neutral to another, as you can tell from this thread. Or it may be helping the artist's musical expression, regardless of the effects on people in the audience. So I think it's difficult to make judgements about whether an artist is true to their art, based on their physical presentation.

The pianist with the most extremely distracting manner at the keyboard I've ever seen perform live is Olli Mustonen, but it would never occur to me that he wasn't being true to his art. What he does looked to me to be a totally integral part of how he makes music, even if I in the audience couldn't deal with watching it (I imagine others could, though). I simply closed my eyes, and still enjoyed his playing.

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#1680262 - 05/18/11 05:45 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Orange Soda King]
BD76 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 185
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Wanna have fun? Play both videos at the same time! laugh


Heh... I did. Was fun crazy
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#1680282 - 05/18/11 06:05 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: cefinow]
Rostosky Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 3339
Loc: Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
Originally Posted By: cefinow
If anyone can describe what he might be thinking at 3:25 I would appreciate it! Mad scientist? crazy



3.25 clearly demonstrates the dawning terror of realising his failure to evacuate bowels before sitting down to play with the added hindsight of the lunchtime curry possibly being a mistake.
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#1680495 - 05/18/11 10:33 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Rostosky]
cefinow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/10
Posts: 358
Loc: Western NC (US)
Originally Posted By: Rostosky
Originally Posted By: cefinow
If anyone can describe what he might be thinking at 3:25 I would appreciate it! Mad scientist? crazy



3.25 clearly demonstrates the dawning terror of realising his failure to evacuate bowels before sitting down to play with the added hindsight of the lunchtime curry possibly being a mistake.


My apologies for not being more of a fan of scatological humor, no matter how wittily phrased!

Actually, I realized that his look is -- suspenseful! It matches the suspenseful, foreboding sound of that passage-- his expression is the same both times he plays it. (Is the look something he "choreographed" to go along with that sound, I wonder.)

Edit: I should say, both times he has "the look," he is playing the same passage, or theme... not that he only plays it twice...

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#1680519 - 05/18/11 10:58 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: cefinow]
Rostosky Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 3339
Loc: Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
With retrospect, as it is happening in the same passages of music (and not the other non humourous passages)
and as he shifts himself on the stool ( the piano stool)
the same each time , it is obviously piles*.

*piles are a medical condition ranging in severity from not important to seriously frightening and have no relation to scatalogical humour.
_________________________


Rise like lions after slumber,in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew
which in sleep has fallen on you. Ye are many,they are few. Shelley

Founder and creator ofRostoskys 13th crystal skull project

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#1680565 - 05/19/11 12:38 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Rostosky]
cubop Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 28 2012


Registered: 12/17/10
Posts: 368
Loc: Norway
After watching the videos here, and listening, I finally got it. The great "expressionists" do their best to convince themselves and the audience that they can play the piano, which they can not. With the great performers it is clear that everything they do is aimed at one thing: Transforming technique into music. They are a pleasure to listen to and to watch.
But, if you cant make it, fake it.

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#1686204 - 05/28/11 06:06 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
TreeHuggerTom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 16
You guys should check out this guy. He somehow manages to play the Bach Prelude in C# major from WTC book 1 by tapping on a double fretboard of a guitar. To do this must be so difficult that he cannot control his own facial movements!



Edited by TreeHuggerTom (05/29/11 01:35 PM)

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#1686307 - 05/28/11 10:06 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Rostosky]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
Originally Posted By: Rostosky
Originally Posted By: cefinow
If anyone can describe what he might be thinking at 3:25 I would appreciate it! Mad scientist? crazy



3.25 clearly demonstrates the dawning terror of realising his failure to evacuate bowels before sitting down to play with the added hindsight of the lunchtime curry possibly being a mistake.


LOL, Its very funny great pianist with great expressions wow


Edited by Batuhan (05/28/11 10:07 PM)
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Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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