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Topic Options
#1972071 - 10/11/12 10:27 PM Chopin the lowest common denominator ?
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Chopin,who's compositions, maybe the lowest common denominator, are over interpreted by irresponsible amateurs and not-so-good pianists and heard throughout the streets.

It seems that good works always descend their charm in this way, in different degrees.

And this really add addtional hurdle to me beside the complex music and technics.

Because of this, it's really an ordeal if I want to learn something, from the endless great compositions of Chopin, either by reviewing an played piece or stuyding a new one.

Do you experience this? And How do you deal with this?

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#1972126 - 10/12/12 12:28 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Dunno....main thing I think of is that "Chopin" and "lowest common denominator" don't belong in the same sentence.

And I don't know what you mean by "overinterpreted." If you mean "not played that well," I'm with you -- but I think we could say the same about Mozart and Bach. Among others. smile

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#1972127 - 10/12/12 12:32 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Am I throwing out an offensive/boring thread?

Maybe the situation is different in different places. But IMO it's just a problem of degree. It exists more or less in different degree all over the wrold.

Replay is hoped and rational criticism is welcome.

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#1972132 - 10/12/12 12:36 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
I don't think it's clear what you mean.

Do you mean that pieces are played too much and not too well? With emphasis on too much?

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#1972134 - 10/12/12 12:42 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6112
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Common (denominator) -> many "ordinary" pianists play Chopin
Low -> on a low level (not too well)
Is this what you mean?
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1972137 - 10/12/12 12:45 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Chopin is an incredibly difficult composer to interpret. This could be why you aren't satisfied with most performances (neither am I to tell you the truth), but I would never blame Chopin! It really takes a masterful performance to make Chopin tolerable for me, but when I find those performances, the effect it has on me personally is so powerful.

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#1972143 - 10/12/12 12:53 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: Mark_C]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Dunno....main thing I think of is that "Chopin" and "lowest common denominator" don't belong in the same sentence.

And I don't know what you mean by "overinterpreted." If you mean "not played that well," I'm with you -- but I think we could say the same about Mozart and Bach. Among others. smile


Maybe, more precisely, I should say they're the "lowest common denominator in classical piano works", because of the easy-arisen sympathetic response and easy-approached emotions in the works of Chopin, urging not-so-good(technicall or scholarly or tastely) pianists to spoil them.

And Morzar and Bach are in the different situation.

Anayway, I believe you know what I'm talking about and I'm sure I'm with you, Mark.

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#1972144 - 10/12/12 12:55 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MiaoW
....I believe you know what I'm talking about and I'm sure I'm with you, Mark.

I really didn't, and I'm still not sure I do, because in no way do I think most people "over-interpret" Chopin, not even poor pianists. (If anything I think they under-interpret him.) I offered what I thought you might have meant, but I guess that's not it....

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#1972145 - 10/12/12 12:55 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: JoelW]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
I'm not blaming Chopin, my dear.

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#1972146 - 10/12/12 12:56 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MiaoW
I'm not blaming Chopin, my dear.

I'm certainly glad to hear that. smile

Let's see if others can do better than I did in trying to answer....

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#1972149 - 10/12/12 01:05 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: MiaoW

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Dunno....main thing I think of is that "Chopin" and "lowest common denominator" don't belong in the same sentence.

And I don't know what you mean by "overinterpreted." If you mean "not played that well," I'm with you -- but I think we could say the same about Mozart and Bach. Among others. smile


Maybe, more precisely, I should say they're the "lowest common denominator in classical piano works", because of the easy-arisen sympathetic response and easy-approached emotions in the works of Chopin, urging not-so-good(technicall or scholarly or tastely) pianists to spoil them.

And Morzar and Bach are in the different situation.

Anayway, I believe you know what I'm talking about and I'm sure I'm with you, Mark.


So, if I may try to simplify, you're saying that the 'easy-listening' quality of Chopin's music results in an increased popularity amongst immature listeners/players?

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#1972150 - 10/12/12 01:15 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: Mark_C]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I don't think it's clear what you mean.

Do you mean that pieces are played too much and not too well? With emphasis on too much?


Emphases are:
1、too much heard
2、too badly played
3、(To some degree) the works are delicate and in 'base-emotion', and I as well as some scholars believe that complexity and sublime are naturally attractive to humanities.
4、1-3 are decending my interests on Chopin.
5、My head keep telling me that 'I should learn somthing from his works' and I'm suffering the procedure.
6、I want to know if anyone are suffering the same situation and how he/she deals with it.

By the way, I know definitely that, at any place and at any time, if I shoot Chopin I'll be shot to a honeycomb and I'm scared. grin

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#1972152 - 10/12/12 01:18 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: Mark_C]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: MiaoW
....I believe you know what I'm talking about and I'm sure I'm with you, Mark.

I really didn't, and I'm still not sure I do, because in no way do I think most people "over-interpret" Chopin, not even poor pianists. (If anything I think they under-interpret him.) I offered what I thought you might have meant, but I guess that's not it....


Feel sorry about that.
I should edit my words as: "over played " rather than " over interpreted ", in fact "over played" but " under interpreted".

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#1972153 - 10/12/12 01:20 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: JoelW]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Yep. But it's just a part of my thread.

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#1972154 - 10/12/12 01:25 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MiaoW
4. 1-3 are descending my interests on Chopin.
5、My head keep telling me that 'I should learn somthing from his works' and I'm suffering the procedure....

If there are some pieces of his that you still like or love, despite the "descended" interest, maybe work on those. At least for the moment, forget about those that you don't.

Go to the scores, try to forget what you've heard that you thought was bad....in fact maybe try your best to forget how you've ever heard it (impossible but do the best you can), and see what you can make of it.

Some hints that will help keep you far away from the worst that you've heard:

-- Avoid playing the left hand too loud. How loud is too loud? Well, if you play it as softly as you can stand, you're probably pretty close to being good. Anything significantly louder is probably too loud. smile

-- Work hard on degrees of piano and pianissimo. Most bad Chopin playing consists of very little below mf, and way too much "loud."

-- Especially the left hand. ha

-- Make sure the melodies have some shape, as though they were being sung rather than being played on a mechanical instrument, which is what a piano is. Pay attention especially to phrase endings, as though you are leading up to a breath. I guarantee you that every pianist whose Chopin you have loved was terrific at phrase endings, and that those whose playing you hated, weren't.

-- Avoid rushing. Let every note have its due. Don't be afraid to linger a bit on beautiful notes, but don't overdo it -- that would be "over-interpreting." ha

-- Make sure the left hand isn't too loud. grin

Just do those things, and that oughta do it. smile

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#1972155 - 10/12/12 01:30 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: Mark_C]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
By the way, "the lowest common denominator" to me is a newly learned English phrase/slang and I'm reviewing and applying it, intending to be jokey and humorous.

And this dicussion will certainly help me to understand the phrase more precisely.

Forgive me if you feel that I use this forum to do something besides (seriously of course )talking about music.

I'm never intended to be offensive.

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#1972158 - 10/12/12 01:44 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: Mark_C]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Just do those things, and that oughta do it. smile


Thank you Mark. I find that you're a really clear-sighted musician besides a doctor.

The latest weeks I've been studying the 1st Chapter of Prokofiev's sonata No.2 and reviewing Chopin's 1st Bllade.

I hope you're glad to listen to and comment on my recording of the 2 pieces, which I'll submit later.

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#1972159 - 10/12/12 01:50 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Might I add a growly bow-wow to the baleful Chopin Miau0
as Mark snappily responded ...
“lowest denominators/Chopin” just ain’t groovy!

Most of us play our Chopin with a heady passion ...
like blindly following the Pied Piper of Hamelin ...
not quite up to the standard of Ashkenazy perhaps ...
but in steadily finding the blissful notes, there is always the balmy hopefulness of one day getting it right.


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#1972161 - 10/12/12 02:09 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: btb]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Originally Posted By: btb
Might I add a growly bow-wow to the baleful Chopin Miau0


"MiaoW" is a most beautiful and smart and tender fuzzy cat in my yard, and every week I spend hours, peacefully and joyfully, with him and caressing him.

Don't you think your spell, I mean your 'charm', 'Miauo', is a real bow-wow ?

And I think if you disagree with my opinion you're more politely to read through the posts and just critise my opinion, rather than myself, in a more rational way.

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#1972163 - 10/12/12 02:15 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: btb]
MiaoW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 93
Loc: Sichuan, China
Originally Posted By: btb
Might I add a growly bow-wow to the baleful Chopin Miau0


And you think your sublime Chopin has any priority and importance over my fuzzy MiaoW?

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#1972180 - 10/12/12 04:42 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
“Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgement Seat”

Lots of people ask whether poet Rudyard Kipling got it right.

PS Sincere apologies if any Chinese are offended.

Regards, btb
I'm a dog-person ... but my daughter loves cats.

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#1972394 - 10/12/12 05:25 PM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Jame334 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 142
But how do you yourself know that your 2nd Ballade isn't as painful to hear as it is for you to hear other "amateurs" playing Chopin?

The 2nd Ballade is in itself a very difficult piece to play beautifully.

EDIT: I think the most horribly over-played piece in existence is "Für Elise", it is also awfully played. Because it is so famous most these days play it way too early and also play it very very poorly.


Edited by Jame334 (10/12/12 05:27 PM)

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#1972575 - 10/13/12 01:29 AM Re: Chopin the lowest common denominator ? [Re: MiaoW]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 943
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: MiaoW
By the way, "the lowest common denominator" to me is a newly learned English phrase/slang and I'm reviewing and applying it, intending to be jokey and humorous.

And this dicussion will certainly help me to understand the phrase more precisely.

Forgive me if you feel that I use this forum to do something besides (seriously of course )talking about music.

I'm never intended to be offensive.

English is my native language, yet I have never understood exactly what the phrase "lowest common denominator" is supposed to mean. Except in arithmetic, where it has a clear definition. Outside of math, the word "denominator" is never used except as part of this phrase. Which makes me suspect the word has no real extra-mathematical meaning. The phrase makes me quite ill at ease.

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