Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums Over 2.5 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!
This is a piano roll of Debussy playing Minstrels. Do you think the tempo on the player piano is running too fast? I personally love it. There are little spots where it's not exact to the score. Perhaps he did it on purpose, or maybe he was just a forgetful guy. Who knows? Ha, I just think think this "recording" is so flavorful, also void of the cliche reverb on every Debussy recording out there.
Thanks for this posting, mazjoe -- most revealing! I doubt that there was anything wrong with the piano roll speed (although that's always possible) -- IMO, this is indeed Debussy's "take" on his own piece: tossed off almost improvisatorily, like a jazz musician would, highly rubato, and as you say, underlining the CHARACTER of the piece rather than worrying about absolute fidelity to the score. It's really not even very good piano playing from a technical standpoint, but he gets the ideas across.
I am in possession of another Welte recording of Debussy himself playing his "La Plus que Lente" (Slower than Slow),which is in his hands anything but; and, again, tossed off with all sorts of rhythmic imprecisions that just would be unacceptable in today's performance climate. But, here again, I don't believe the piano roll is "to blame", I think Debussy actually viewed and performed his pieces that way.
I personally think that it this ^ is the best performance of this piece. I read that the title "slower than slow" was some sort of joke but I can't recall the specifics enough to make a point. What I will say though, is that when pianists take this piece "slower than slow" it sound AWFUL! I think the way Debussy plays in the roll is absolutely gorgeous. I guess he knew best, eh? Haha.