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#1730924 - 08/11/11 11:52 AM Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret?
Gould Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/04/10
Posts: 429
Loc: Earth
I personally feel that Mozart is the hardest to play well. Well because of three reasons in my opinion. Well firstly I feel that anyone could learn the notes of any of his piece but thats where the hard part starts in my opinion, his music seems to demand perfect clarity through the passages but at the same time seems to make a mistake/slip sound obvious because of the clarity. Secondly, When playing Mozart it doesn't really sound showy, technical,etc. and just sounds deceivingly easy.. Finally, well there are just soo many notes! :P



Here's a quote:
The sonatas of Mozart are unique: too easy for children, too difficult for adults. Children are given Mozart to play because of the quantity of notes; grown ups avoid him because of the quality of notes.
- Artur Schnabel

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#1730929 - 08/11/11 11:56 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19292
Loc: New York
Hardest to play well: I agree with you -- Mozart.

But hardest to "interpret" -- Chopin. I think that of all the great composers, he's probably the one that we're farthest from really playing the way the composer was thinking and how he played it himself.

Actually that reflects kind of a superficial idea of "interpret." If we mean the term more seriously, then I think we'd have to say:
1. Beethoven
2. Bach

Gosh that's a tough word.... ha
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1730950 - 08/11/11 12:16 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 824
I think the composer that's hardest to interpret is the one you haven't played a lot of. When I started playing Prokofiev, I had a lot of trouble interpreting because I was not familiar with his style.

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#1730957 - 08/11/11 12:24 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3621
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Yes, it's an interesting question, especially if we really try to say who is difficult to "interpret", instead of just to "play".

I've been recently thinking about Beethoven and Schumann, and I would say Schumann is more difficult to interpret in the following sense. I find that Beethoven gives more of a consistent, usable blueprint for what to do. If you follow all his indications *exactly*-- exactly when to crescendo and decrescendo, exactly when to ritard and when to accent-- then you've got a good first step towards an interpretation.

Of course, there's a lot more to be done. It's just a first step. But you don't even have that with Schumann. I find that his indications are less consistent; you can't take them all literally. (For instance, a two page piece with a dozen crescendos marked... but not a single decrescendo; it's up to you to determine where those go.) So I'd argue that with Schumann, our interpretive skills are needed at a more basic, or literal, level. (Maybe.) Not sure where Chopin fits along these particular lines.

-Jason
_________________________
Schoenberg op.10+k, Beethoven op.100+k for k=9
Schubert D.899/4, Chopin op.25/2

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#1730986 - 08/11/11 12:58 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
Hardest: Mozart (because Mozart is Mozart), late Beethoven (hard for young people in particular), Debussy (he deals so much in nuance), late Scriabin (that stuff always confuses me)
Easiest: Chopin, Rachmaninov, Liszt (basically anything heart-on-the-sleeve)

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#1730989 - 08/11/11 12:59 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I would venture to say Bach is really, really hard, too.

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#1730994 - 08/11/11 01:00 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Orange Soda King]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I would venture to say Bach is really, really hard, too.


Agreed! How could I forget about him????? I had a heck of a time when I learnt the Goldberg Variations (selections only not the complete one).

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#1731020 - 08/11/11 01:26 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Schubert.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1731024 - 08/11/11 01:29 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Kreisler]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19292
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Schubert.

Good answer.
I'll say this: At competitions (at least the amateur ones), he's probably the riskiest composer to (try to) play. I don't know if it's because it's just flat-out hard to interpret, or if different people (like judges) have such specific ideas of their own that it's hard to please them. But maybe that's all the same thing.

P.S. On second thought, Mozart is even riskier to play at the competitions. But I think Schubert is an awfully close 2nd....
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1731047 - 08/11/11 01:53 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
cast12 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 219
Chopin, because I find his works to be the most profound in the entire piano repertoire. I feel as if no interpretation -- mine especially -- can do justice to the flawlessness of his works.

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#1731057 - 08/11/11 02:15 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Kreisler]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Schubert.
Can you tell us a little more specifically why you feel this way?

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#1731058 - 08/11/11 02:17 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Steve712 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/10
Posts: 166
Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
How about we all agree that they're all pretty damn tough?

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#1731081 - 08/11/11 02:42 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Making music is hard!!

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#1731092 - 08/11/11 02:56 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
I have trouble with a lot of Brahms. I just cannot make head nor tails out of many of the smaller piano pieces, interpretively.

I think Schubert is hard to play technically, but the interpretation is not so bad. After all, he was so good with voice that his music just sings.

There are composers, Messiaen, for example, where I know there is something there, but I have trouble bringing it out.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1731108 - 08/11/11 03:18 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: pianoloverus]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Sure!

First, Schubert's notation is a bit sparse. He doesn't give us as much as other composers in terms of directions. Nor does he give anything a title, so we're left with very little to go on. (As opposed to someone like Beethoven or Schumann.)

Second, Schubert's music straddles the line between classical and romantic. Like those before, he wrote sonatas and trios, all of which follow a very traditional form. But like those after, he also wrote character pieces and a large fantasy. So do we treat him with restraint or abandon, and how much?

Third, in the songs, we have the text. In the piano music, we don't have the text, yet we're still dealing with a composer whose music is intensely poetic. When you listen to recordings of Schubert's songs, they're always sung with such amazing inflection and color. Bringing that same inflection and color to the piano is far more difficult.

Fourth, emotionally, Schubert is very complex. Nothing he writes (in my opinion), is obvious or one-dimensional. With Beethoven Op. 57, or a Chopin prelude, the emotional connection is more immediate. With Schubert, it's far more subtle. Pick any of the Moments Musicaux for example.

Fifth, in Schubert we have a composer with classical restraint and an intensely poetic voice. How do we reconcile these? In Schumann, Chopin, even Beethoven, extremes in tempo, articulation, and dynamic contrast seem much more in character than in Schubert, where those extremes seem forced and artificial. But again from the songs, we know Schubert's depth of feeling, so how do we manage that?

Sixth, the number of great Schubert interpreters is a very small list. Curzon, Richter, Lupu, Schnabel. Any others? Even with the zillion or so recordings of D. 960 that come out every year, most are rather lackluster.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Schubert.
Can you tell us a little more specifically why you feel this way?
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1731243 - 08/11/11 06:38 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7428
[sarcasm]

The answer must depend entirely on how many recordings by great pianists there are of the composer's music. Therefore, all of the mainstream composers are eliminated from consideration.

[/sarcasm]

In line with the above, sarcastic or not, I would put Alkan way up there.

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#1731267 - 08/11/11 07:08 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: wr]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: wr
[sarcasm]

The answer must depend entirely on how many recordings by great pianists there are of the composer's music. Therefore, all of the mainstream composers are eliminated from consideration.

[/sarcasm]

In line with the above, sarcastic or not, I would put Alkan way up there.


I do get where you are coming from. Off topic a bit, what are your favorite Alkan recordings that you can recommend to me? smile

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#1731294 - 08/11/11 07:59 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I agree with wr in a way. I'm not that familiar with Alkan's music, but because of his many mentions on the forum, I've been listening to him a lot recently.

I do think he's difficult to interpret from the standpoint of his music, while great, needs help.

Let me explain. smile Some composers tend to "play themselves." I put Chopin and Debussy in this category. Their music beautifully fits the piano and the hand, so in a way, once you're able to navigate their works technically, really beautiful poetic music comes out. Sure, there's a great deal of depth to explore, but a competent performance is still a joy to listen to.

I don't think this is true for some other composers. Brahms comes to mind, as does Bach, and Alkan. Once you're able to technically navigate their music, you still have a lot of work to do to make it sound naturally musical. A competent performance will likely fall flat.

In other words, the difference between a mediocre performance of Beethoven's 5th symphony and a great performance of Beethoven's 5th symphony is not as pronounced as the difference between a mediocre and great performance of Brahms's 1st symphony. A mediocre performance of Brahms 1 can easily feel boring and horribly long-winded. In a mediocre performance of Beethoven 5, we still feel the strength of the message, diluted though it might be.

This is what rings true to me for Alkan. A mediocre performance of Alkan leaves me thinking that his obscurity is well deserved. But a great performance of Alkan has me wondering why he isn't standard fare on recital programs.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1731336 - 08/11/11 09:08 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Kreisler]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8696
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
A mediocre performance of Brahms 1 can easily feel boring and horribly long-winded.

I confess that the first movement feels much the same way in any performance I've so far heard. Just me of course, yet I love the other movements, and the other Brahms symphonies.
Quote:
This is what rings true to me for Alkan. A mediocre performance of Alkan leaves me thinking that his obscurity is well deserved. But a great performance of Alkan has me wondering why he isn't standard fare on recital programs.

As with Liszt. A mediocre performance makes Liszt sound tawdry, sentimental and bombastic- perfect fodder for those who dislike Liszt... and there are plenty who feel that way regardless. But a great performance once again demonstrates to me that Liszt is one of our finest composers. Kuanpiano's recent post of the Dante Sonata was a case in point.

Back to Alkan, one recording I heard of the Op. 35 etudes didn't make much of a case for the value of the music, but in following the score, I kept thinking 'there's something amiss here'.
_________________________
Jason

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#1731348 - 08/11/11 09:15 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: argerichfan]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
A mediocre performance of Brahms 1 can easily feel boring and horribly long-winded.

I confess that the first movement feels much the same way in any performance I've so far heard. Just me of course, yet I love the other movements, and the other Brahms symphonies.
Quote:
This is what rings true to me for Alkan. A mediocre performance of Alkan leaves me thinking that his obscurity is well deserved. But a great performance of Alkan has me wondering why he isn't standard fare on recital programs.

As with Liszt. A mediocre performance makes Liszt sound tawdry, sentimental and bombastic- perfect fodder for those who dislike Liszt... and there are plenty who feel that way regardless. But a great performance once again demonstrates to me that Liszt is one of our finest composers. Kuanpiano's recent post of the Dante Sonata was a case in point.

Back to Alkan, one recording I heard of the Op. 35 etudes didn't make much of a case for the value of the music, but in following the score, I kept thinking 'there's something amiss here'.


I agree with both you and Kreisler on this one. Try listening to Mark Viner and Ronald Smith's recordings of the 10th, 11th, and 12th etudes from Op. 35 and see if you like those any more.

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#1731369 - 08/11/11 09:50 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
jeffreyjones Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2230
Loc: San Jose, CA
I don't know about "hardest" - such a dangerous and subjective thing to try and determine. Medtner comes to mind, because he can come off as repetitive and corny. Listen to him playing his own music, though, and it comes to life with all sorts of phrasing and contrasts that you never get with Hamelin, Tozer, or most of the other pianists on record who played him.

Similarly, Scriabin has to be played with a certain kind of intensity and direction which can be very hard to calculate. Horowitz got it, Sofronitzky got it, and Richter got it, and they also had stupendous technique. Ashkenazy, Ogdon, and most others didn't get it.

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#1731398 - 08/11/11 11:05 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kreisler, doesn't the very existence of the songs provide quite a few clues as to how to approach Schubert's untitled piano music?

I attended a lecture once on the "death and the maiden." During the question period, I asked if their was any connection between the quartet and the song. The answer was a resounding "no." I pushed a little bit, and pointed out that the song came first, and how could Schubert have picked it up again and not had something of the Goethe poem and the music in mind? There must have been some connection. Again, the answer was absolutely no connection. I believe the lecturer was wedded to the idea of art for art's sake, and was not about to admit that there was any nonmusical value to Schubert's quartet.

Not so with me. I'm not an art for art's sake kind of guy, and I'm not above finding my own way. I find Brahm's intermezzos, for example, to present the same problem you ascribe to Schubert--no titles. And I sometimes feel at a loss without them--so I invent my own titles, or recall the emotionality of my own life experience to fill in the void. With that, I generally feel quite confident and complete in my approach. When a composer leaves something out, perhaps we should see it as opening up space, and giving the opportunity for a more personal interpretation.

Tomasino
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#1731407 - 08/11/11 11:36 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Kreisler]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19292
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
....Schubert's music straddles the line between classical and romantic.....So do we treat him with restraint or abandon, and how much?

....emotionally, Schubert is very complex. Nothing he writes (in my opinion), is obvious or one-dimensional.....

....in Schubert we have a composer with classical restraint and an intensely poetic voice. How do we reconcile these? ....

Well said about the difficulty of Schubert. To me these quoted things are the main factors (and of course the last thing overlaps with the first). Some specific practical ways that the "Classical vs. Romantic" issue comes into play:

How much pedal?
How much rubato?
How much mushy Romantic dynamics as opposed to quasi-terrace?

And some other things:

The dynamic markings are heavily dominated by 'soft end.' How literally do we take them? Arguably if we take them all literally, it makes the difficult task of making the sonatas "interesting" even more difficult. But if you interpret some of the "p's" or "mp's" more loosely, are you "cheating"? And how do you make some of the p's or mp's a bit forceful without un-Schubert'ing Schubert?

And more generally, how do you keep it interesting? It might seem like bumpkinism or sacrilege to suggest that well-played Schubert won't surely be interesting, but, I think the reality is that to many if not most listeners, even knowledgeable ones, it often won't be. I'm saying (and I'm ready to get slammed!) that with most of Schubert's sonatas, including the late great ones, it's a real challenge to keep the performance interesting and to keep an audience's attention -- and that even very good performances don't necessarily achieve it.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1731411 - 08/11/11 11:43 PM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Damon Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 5916
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: RTJM
I personally feel that Mozart is the hardest to play well.



For some of the same reasons, I would add Bach to that. Note errors stand out like a sore thumb. But hardest to interpret I have to go with the romantics, Brahms, Liszt, and Chopin. Brahms is just damned uncomfortable and so it's hard to execute your thoughts. Liszt falls apart if you can't keep the rhythmic flow, and it's very hard to maintain. Chopin needs help; If you play what's on the page without having an outstanding sense of rubato, you end up with a lifeless, boring waste of time.
_________________________
Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

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#1731432 - 08/12/11 12:32 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Beethoven747-400 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/11
Posts: 116
Loc: Perth, Australia
A very difficult question, I would agree it would be mozart, his long technically demanding phrases make is quite obvious when you make a slip, regarding interpretation, it seems as through the great composer composed for money and not how he really felt expression wise. He is often lost in his music and appears to be from happy to sad quite quickly.
_________________________
YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/brandonscherrer?feature=mhee

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#1731440 - 08/12/11 12:59 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4491
Loc: in the past
Beethoven... you can really separate the real pianists from the BS with Beethoven.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1731475 - 08/12/11 02:53 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7428
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: wr
[sarcasm]

The answer must depend entirely on how many recordings by great pianists there are of the composer's music. Therefore, all of the mainstream composers are eliminated from consideration.

[/sarcasm]

In line with the above, sarcastic or not, I would put Alkan way up there.


I do get where you are coming from. Off topic a bit, what are your favorite Alkan recordings that you can recommend to me? smile


Your question got me thinking about what Alkan recordings I actually have, so I looked (and counted - 14 LPs and 39 CDs, which is amazing when I think back to when there were just a handful of LPs and that's all). And I realized that most of it I haven't heard in so long that I no longer trust what I remember about them. I should listen to the whole lot again, I guess. So I shouldn't recommend any, except for a couple I have heard in the last few years - the cello sonata with Pascal Amoyel and Emmanuelle Bertrand (which I think is terrific), and the Esquisses played by Steven Osborn (which is good although perhaps lacking a bit in "edge").

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#1731483 - 08/12/11 03:04 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7428
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
A mediocre performance of Brahms 1 can easily feel boring and horribly long-winded.

I confess that the first movement feels much the same way in any performance I've so far heard. Just me of course, yet I love the other movements, and the other Brahms symphonies.
Quote:
This is what rings true to me for Alkan. A mediocre performance of Alkan leaves me thinking that his obscurity is well deserved. But a great performance of Alkan has me wondering why he isn't standard fare on recital programs.

As with Liszt. A mediocre performance makes Liszt sound tawdry, sentimental and bombastic- perfect fodder for those who dislike Liszt... and there are plenty who feel that way regardless. But a great performance once again demonstrates to me that Liszt is one of our finest composers. Kuanpiano's recent post of the Dante Sonata was a case in point.

Back to Alkan, one recording I heard of the Op. 35 etudes didn't make much of a case for the value of the music, but in following the score, I kept thinking 'there's something amiss here'.


I agree with both you and Kreisler on this one. Try listening to Mark Viner and Ronald Smith's recordings of the 10th, 11th, and 12th etudes from Op. 35 and see if you like those any more.


I think Alkan was still finding his voice and learning how to shape his material in op. 35, so the quality and interest is not as consistently high as it is in his later stuff. But there's still good stuff in it, even if it's not all representative of Alkan at his best.

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#1731490 - 08/12/11 03:16 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Gould]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3885
Loc: New York
Hardest music to sort out is the time signature-less key-signature less variety (modern version of continuo in my mind) with custmized score ornaments or hieroglyphics. I take a single look at the score and immediately hear Reich's Different Trains for some reason. Interpretation is subsequently a train wreck.

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#1731497 - 08/12/11 03:44 AM Re: Which composer do you think is the hardest to interpret? [Re: Kreisler]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7428
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I agree with wr in a way. I'm not that familiar with Alkan's music, but because of his many mentions on the forum, I've been listening to him a lot recently.

I do think he's difficult to interpret from the standpoint of his music, while great, needs help.

Let me explain. smile Some composers tend to "play themselves." I put Chopin and Debussy in this category. Their music beautifully fits the piano and the hand, so in a way, once you're able to navigate their works technically, really beautiful poetic music comes out. Sure, there's a great deal of depth to explore, but a competent performance is still a joy to listen to.

I don't think this is true for some other composers. Brahms comes to mind, as does Bach, and Alkan. Once you're able to technically navigate their music, you still have a lot of work to do to make it sound naturally musical. A competent performance will likely fall flat.

In other words, the difference between a mediocre performance of Beethoven's 5th symphony and a great performance of Beethoven's 5th symphony is not as pronounced as the difference between a mediocre and great performance of Brahms's 1st symphony. A mediocre performance of Brahms 1 can easily feel boring and horribly long-winded. In a mediocre performance of Beethoven 5, we still feel the strength of the message, diluted though it might be.

This is what rings true to me for Alkan. A mediocre performance of Alkan leaves me thinking that his obscurity is well deserved. But a great performance of Alkan has me wondering why he isn't standard fare on recital programs.


Well said, and I completely agree.

The Brahms comparison seems particularly apt to me, because I have heard a surprising number of unconvincing Brahms performances from high-end performers. I know the music itself is first-rate and would think that so-called "world-class" artists would know how to give it a compelling interpretation and communicate that interpretation to a listener, but that's not necessarily true. But with Brahms, we do have quite a few amazing recordings that help establish what can be done with his scores, and with Alkan that is just not the case. As good as some Alkan recordings have been, there's nothing available that is at the artistic level of Furtwangler's or Arrau's Brahms. Unfortunately, we just don't know what Alkan might sound like in the hands of the likes of Arrau, Richter, Serkin, et al. (the Ogden version of the solo concerto, although badly under-prepared, is getting close).

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