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#1814892 - 12/30/11 12:01 AM 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art
vlhorowitz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/07
Posts: 290
Hi Everyone,

Here is the final part of my interview with 1980 Chopin competition winner, Dang Thai Son.

In this section, he reveals his thoughts on Mikhail Pletnev, Ivo Pogorelich, Lang Lang, and Art.

And thank you all, again, for reading.
Hope you all have a safe and wonderful new year !

http://www.examiner.com/piano-in-san-francisco/interview-with-dang-thai-son-part-iii

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#1814911 - 12/30/11 12:34 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: vlhorowitz]
boo1234 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 530
so Pletnev learned and memorized all 5 Beethoven piano concertos in one night? ...

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#1815077 - 12/30/11 10:34 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: boo1234]
vlhorowitz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/07
Posts: 290
Photographic memory - like Toscanini smile

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#1815160 - 12/30/11 12:37 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: vlhorowitz]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5423
Rumor has it that Pletnev learnt the Scarlatti Sonatas that he recorded for Virgin (which won the Gramophone Award) during the flight to the recording venue, just by reading through the scores on the plane.

Another story recounted by Michael Collins (who calls Pletnev a 'genius'), the clarinettist who frequently performed and recorded with Pletnev (including Pletnev's transcription of Beethoven's Violin Concerto for clarinet) - they were to record Brahms's Clarinet Sonatas but after they were in the can, they had plenty of time left to record a filler: Weber's Grand Duo Concertante was suggested, but Pletnev had never played it. So, he.....sightread it for the CD.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#1815282 - 12/30/11 03:27 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: vlhorowitz]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: interview
EH: What advice would you give to students who are struggling to realize the spirit of Chopin’s music ?

The big challenge today is that Chopin is a Romantic after all, and his music has to do with real emotions; perhaps even more so, a very personal emotion - with soul. Today, with all of our information and modern technology which surrounds life and speeds it up, digital perfection tends to make things more rational. But one cannot play Chopin without experiencing life either.


Yes, Chopin's music has to do with "real emotions" as opposed to all that other music which only deals with imaginary emotions. If Chopin deals with "real emotion" then I should give soap operas more credit, because his level of emotion is on par with that.

This is typical classical musician nonsense, and I would expect nothing less to come from the mouth of a winner of one of the most anti-musical music competitions in the classical world. I am so tired of this completely spurious notion that rationality and emotion exist on opposite ends of the same continuum. This is just bad philosophy, nothing more. Read your David Hume people! You can't seperate the rational from the emotional! "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions."

For all this guy's talk of the importance of life experiance, he would sure do well to gather some himself.

-End of Rant

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#1815844 - 12/31/11 10:51 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: polyphasicpianist]
vlhorowitz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/07
Posts: 290
That story about Pletnev is incredible. Such remarkable facility.

Happy New Year Everyone !

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#1816091 - 12/31/11 06:58 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: bennevis]
Mavs972 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/10
Posts: 52
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Rumor has it that Pletnev learnt the Scarlatti Sonatas that he recorded for Virgin (which won the Gramophone Award) during the flight to the recording venue, just by reading through the scores on the plane.

Another story recounted by Michael Collins (who calls Pletnev a 'genius'), the clarinettist who frequently performed and recorded with Pletnev (including Pletnev's transcription of Beethoven's Violin Concerto for clarinet) - they were to record Brahms's Clarinet Sonatas but after they were in the can, they had plenty of time left to record a filler: Weber's Grand Duo Concertante was suggested, but Pletnev had never played it. So, he.....sightread it for the CD.
I like how you reply to an opinion of his with one your own. Besides you're in
the minority.

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#1818630 - 01/04/12 07:05 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: vlhorowitz]
vlhorowitz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/07
Posts: 290
Hey guys, here's a video of Dang Thai Son playing the Barcarolle, Nocturne Op. 62 No. 2, Prelude No. 24, and Scherzo Op. 31 at the 1980 Chopin competition in Warsaw.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfpEDZgzKsc&feature=related



Edited by vlhorowitz (01/04/12 07:06 PM)

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#1818644 - 01/04/12 07:26 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: polyphasicpianist]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1420
Loc: under monsoon clouds
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist


Yes, Chopin's music has to do with "real emotions" as opposed to all that other music which only deals with imaginary emotions. If Chopin deals with "real emotion" then I should give soap operas more credit, because his level of emotion is on par with that....

For all this guy's talk of the importance of life experiance [sic], he would sure do well to gather some himself.

-End of Rant


I think growing up in Vietnam during the war, dealing with poverty, no electricity (and no recorded music), having to worry about being attacked, not being able to travel freely, and somehow being able to cobble together an education and develop a world-class career, not to mention living over half a century, has given Dang Thai Son a bit of life experience.

You completely missed the point of his comment about playing Chopin requiring real emotion and life experience. (I won't even get started on the comparison between Chopin and soap operas.) He was referring to our enchantment with technical perfection, and to the many young pianists these days who have astonishing technique but cannot go much beyond that, as opposed to developing a deep understanding of music and the rest of life, which takes time. He did not say that emotion and rationality cannot coexist (and if you knew Chopin's work well, you would understand that it is deeply logical as well as emotional and sensuous).

Elene
_________________________
Semi-Pro Musica

Blog: http://elenedom.wordpress.com
Website: http://elenelistens.com






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#1818647 - 01/04/12 07:27 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: vlhorowitz]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1420
Loc: under monsoon clouds
vlhorowitz, I had seen your series of articles linked elsewhere and found them a worthwhile effort. I didn't know anything about Dang's background. Thanks!

Elene

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#1818893 - 01/05/12 04:36 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: Elene]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

He did not say that emotion and rationality cannot coexist (and if you knew Chopin's work well, you would understand that it is deeply logical as well as emotional and sensuous).


Your right he did not directly say emotion and rationality cannot coexist, he implied it with this

Quote:

the big challenge today is that Chopin is a Romantic after all, and his music has to do with real emotions; perhaps even more so, a very personal emotion - with soul. Today, with all of our information and modern technology which surrounds life and speeds it up, digital perfection tends to make things more rational.


The bolded sentence is clearly meant as a contrast to the previous sentence, implying that emotion and rationality are opposites.

Originally Posted By: Elene

I think growing up in Vietnam during the war, dealing with poverty, no electricity (and no recorded music), having to worry about being attacked, not being able to travel freely, and somehow being able to cobble together an education and develop a world-class career, not to mention living over half a century, has given Dang Thai Son a bit of life experience.


All I know is he left Vietnam for Moscow when he was 16, which says to me that if he was good enough to get into the Moscow conservatory his upbringing was most likely was not all that harsh. Remember growing up during the war is not the same thing as growing up in war. But maybe he did grow up within the harsh reality of war. If so, then I apologise on this account, but from what I have read this seems unlikely. Where are you getting this information from?

Originally Posted By: Elene
He was referring to our enchantment with technical perfection, and to the many young pianists these days who have astonishing technique but cannot go much beyond that


This is the same old stuff classical musicians have been saying since Beethoven's day. "All technique no feeling." It's like elderly people who say "today's youth have no respect." People made the very same accusations against Horowitz, and now he is revered for his depth of playing. Frankly I don't buy into this whole, "the new generation of pianists are all about technique" nonsense. To make a statement like that is to lessen their own humanity. They feel just as much as anyone.

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#1818899 - 01/05/12 04:53 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: boo1234]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7978
Originally Posted By: boo1234
so Pletnev learned and memorized all 5 Beethoven piano concertos in one night? ...


Where did you get that idea? The story was that it was for his "next lesson", which, for all we know, was after the teacher was out of town for three months or something.

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#1818925 - 01/05/12 07:47 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: wr]
Cherub Rocker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/06
Posts: 475
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: boo1234
so Pletnev learned and memorized all 5 Beethoven piano concertos in one night? ...


Where did you get that idea? The story was that it was for his "next lesson", which, for all we know, was after the teacher was out of town for three months or something.



Not in Russia - lessons there are two times per week and are at least an hour long. Pletnev just couldn't remember which one his teacher had assigned for the next lesson and it's not like he could have sent his teacher an email or something. Some people are just geniuses!
_________________________
Schubert: Impromptus Op. 90, Nos. 2 and 4
Chopin: Etudes Op. 25, Nos. 10-12
Scriabin: Sonata No. 2

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#1818985 - 01/05/12 10:05 AM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: polyphasicpianist]
violily Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/06/11
Posts: 14
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist

All I know is he left Vietnam for Moscow when he was 16, which says to me that if he was good enough to get into the Moscow conservatory his upbringing was most likely was not all that harsh. Remember growing up during the war is not the same thing as growing up in war. But maybe he did grow up within the harsh reality of war. If so, then I apologise on this account, but from what I have read this seems unlikely. Where are you getting this information from?


From the first part of the interview series: http://www.examiner.com/piano-in-san-francisco/interview-with-pianist-dang-thai-son-part-i

"My relationship with Chopin is very special. I was born during the war in Vietnam, and when I was very young, we had to evacuate and move into the mountains. There was of course no electricity at the time, and even more difficulties learning music and getting our hands on musical scores. There were all kinds of shortages with respect to materials and information. And there were obviously no concerts and no recordings. This period was totally a kind of darkness."

Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist

This is the same old stuff classical musicians have been saying since Beethoven's day. "All technique no feeling." It's like elderly people who say "today's youth have no respect." People made the very same accusations against Horowitz, and now he is revered for his depth of playing. Frankly I don't buy into this whole, "the new generation of pianists are all about technique" nonsense. To make a statement like that is to lessen their own humanity. They feel just as much as anyone.


I agree with this, but I don't think DTS was implying that today's pianists are only about technique.


Edited by violily (01/05/12 10:05 AM)

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#1819201 - 01/05/12 04:29 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: Cherub Rocker]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7978
Originally Posted By: Cherub Rocker
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: boo1234
so Pletnev learned and memorized all 5 Beethoven piano concertos in one night? ...


Where did you get that idea? The story was that it was for his "next lesson", which, for all we know, was after the teacher was out of town for three months or something.



Not in Russia - lessons there are two times per week and are at least an hour long. Pletnev just couldn't remember which one his teacher had assigned for the next lesson and it's not like he could have sent his teacher an email or something. Some people are just geniuses!


My point still stands - he didn't say when that next lesson was coming up, so we don't know how long it took to memorize the concertos.

And I'll add that while I don't doubt that Pletnev is extraordinary, I also tend to discount this sort of anecdote in the absence of more collaborating evidence. It's not that I don't believe they are possible, it's that I think people like to relate fantastic stories about people they admire a bit more than they like to be sure they are accurate or give a the complete picture.

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#1819402 - 01/05/12 10:44 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: wr]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: wr



(...) It's not that I don't believe they are possible, it's that I think people like to relate fantastic stories about people they admire a bit more than they like to be sure they are accurate or give a the complete picture.


Indeed. A much more nuanced version of the story is given in this Gramophone interview from a while back. His abilities are clearly impressive but there is more to the "story". The whole interview is worth reading and can be found here .

MIKHAIL PLETNEV speaks very quietly, so quietly in fact that several times I found myself anxiously nudging my cassette recorder closer to him. But there's no diffidence in what he says. His teacher was the much-respected pianist Yakov Fliyer. "I wasn't a good student. I didn't go too often to lessons—I felt rather guilty afterwards. I liked to listen to records instead, and I learned many things from them. Fliyer was a good musician and a good teacher, but I must have been difficult for him. He would say 'What are you going to play?' and I would reply 'Beethoven concertos' — 'Which ones?'—`All of them'. In fact I could never play everything I prepared for him. Each week I would bring something else. But I did learn from Fliyer and I'm sorry he was too ill to come when I entered the Tchaikovsky Competition. He died shortly afterwards, but he knew that I was the winner. Perhaps it was the last good news he had."
Does Pletnev still find it easy to get to grips with an unfamiliar piece? "In those days I found it much easier to master—or what I thought was 'master' —a great piece. I learned the Second Concerto of Liszt in three hours and played it straight afterwards. But now—maybe I'm getting older—I wait quite a long time before the conception is clear. I must be convinced that what I am doing is truthful." And how does one arrive at a 'truthful' performance? "I feel that I am the composer. I can do what I feel and understand to be right. Maybe this is what makes my playing attractive. I'm not trying to play just what's written; I like to play how it was written: the ideas, the psychological process."

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#1819779 - 01/06/12 04:50 PM Re: 1980 Chopin winner on Lang Lang, Pletnev, and Art [Re: Andromaque]
vlhorowitz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/07
Posts: 290
Thank you for posting that smile

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