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#2009499 - 01/05/13 02:52 PM Performing Preludes
JoelW Offline
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Are preludes supposed to be performed one after the next? Would it be okay to perform nos. 3, 6 and 9 for example? The impression that I have is that you should only perform preludes one after the next i.e. 3, 4, 5 etc... if this were true then one would have to learn all 24 preludes to perform the ones they want to play.

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#2009509 - 01/05/13 03:13 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Online   content
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If you mean Chopin's Op.28 (or Shostakovich's Op.34), yes, almost all concert pianists except Sviatoslav Richter plays them as a complete set as the composer intended, from the key structure. Though amateurs often pick and choose: after all, the B flat minor (No.16) is a far cry from the 'Raindrop' that precedes it.....

Alkan's Op.31 is also usually played complete.
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"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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#2009513 - 01/05/13 03:28 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
BruceD Online   content
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I see nothing wrong with programming a selection of Preludes (Chopin?), nor do I feel that they must be performed in chronological order, unless one is playing the complete set.

Regards,
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#2009527 - 01/05/13 03:53 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: BruceD]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
I see nothing wrong with programming a selection of Preludes (Chopin?), nor do I feel that they must be performed in chronological order, unless one is playing the complete set.

Absolutely!

I think very few would object to their being selected and ordered however one might choose, provided the selecting and ordering are done reasonably well -- and in fact this can be extremely interesting, for both the performer and the audience.

I'm not sure they're 'usually' played as a complete set (as Bennevis said) but certainly it's not uncommon. Whether or not that's the more frequent thing, IMO nobody should feel discouraged from doing selections.

P.S. A little off the subject, but....one of the most interesting and moving concerts I ever went to was Chopin's complete Op. 28 combined with all the Bach Preludes from Book I -- two pianists at separate pianos alternately playing Bach Preludes and Chopin Preludes, each leading into the other of the pair and with the last note of one overlapping with the first note of the next (usually both being in the same key). IMO it worked spectacularly. We could perhaps say that "Preludes" in general invite creativity in concert design, and it is to be welcomed.

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#2009528 - 01/05/13 03:55 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
If you mean Chopin's Op.28 (or Shostakovich's Op.34), yes, almost all concert pianists except Sviatoslav Richter plays them as a complete set as the composer intended, from the key structure. Though amateurs often pick and choose: after all, the B flat minor (No.16) is a far cry from the 'Raindrop' that precedes it.....

Alkan's Op.31 is also usually played complete.


What about Debussy?

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#2009531 - 01/05/13 04:01 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Originally Posted By: bennevis
If you mean Chopin's Op.28 (or Shostakovich's Op.34), yes, almost all concert pianists except Sviatoslav Richter plays them as a complete set as the composer intended, from the key structure. Though amateurs often pick and choose: after all, the B flat minor (No.16) is a far cry from the 'Raindrop' that precedes it.....

Alkan's Op.31 is also usually played complete.


What about Debussy?


Ah, Debussy.... grin
He may be an exception, partly because his Preludes are much longer and unrelated to what precedes and follows each particular Prelude. And he also gives each one a title, which further underlines their disparate nature.

Unlike Chopin's, where several Preludes appear to be introductions to the next one (like No.23 for No.24).
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#2009532 - 01/05/13 04:08 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: BruceD
I see nothing wrong with programming a selection of Preludes (Chopin?), nor do I feel that they must be performed in chronological order, unless one is playing the complete set.

Absolutely!

I think very few would object to their being selected and ordered however one might choose, provided the selecting and ordering are done reasonably well -- and in fact this can be extremely interesting, for both the performer and the audience.

I'm not sure they're 'usually' played as a complete set (as Bennevis said) but certainly it's not uncommon. Whether or not that's the more frequent thing, IMO nobody should feel discouraged from doing selections.



I was of course referring to the professional concert circuit, rather than competitions or amateur concerts or student recitals. I've heard the Chopin Op.28 many, many times in concert, and they're always played complete. In fact, as far as I know, Richter is (or was) the only great pianist who only ever played a selection in concert.

But there's always Chopin's Op.45 wink .
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"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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#2009535 - 01/05/13 04:10 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Perform how the music will complement each other best, rather than just following opus numbers, catalogue entries, or chronological order whenever programming anything.
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#2009537 - 01/05/13 04:13 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
BDB Online   content
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I like the idea of playing them in chronological order. You could play, say, Prelude #3 by Chopin, Debussy, Shostakovich, and Messiaen, for instance.

(I may have the dates of Shostakovich and Messiaen reversed.)


Edited by BDB (01/05/13 04:14 PM)
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#2009538 - 01/05/13 04:19 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
pianoloverus Online   content
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It's very rare to have anything but the entire set performed in a professional recital nowadays but a selection of preludes was quite common in the 19th century. Since the OP is an amateur a selection or even a single prelude is totally fine. If playing just a couple then one should order them in some way that makes musical sense.

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#2009543 - 01/05/13 04:28 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
It's very rare to have anything but the entire set performed in a professional recital nowadays but a selection of preludes was quite common in the 19th century.


Very true. Chopin himself even played just the first section of his Ballade No.2 in a concert because he felt too weak to play the tempestuous sections. And in the classical era, single movements of symphonies were often played, sometimes interspersed with something lighter - something that concert-goers wouldn't tolerate these days. What did Franz Clement do to Beethoven's Violin Concerto? grin
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"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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#2009565 - 01/05/13 05:12 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
fnork Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
I was of course referring to the professional concert circuit, rather than competitions or amateur concerts or student recitals. I've heard the Chopin Op.28 many, many times in concert, and they're always played complete. In fact, as far as I know, Richter is (or was) the only great pianist who only ever played a selection in concert.

That is not to say that how concert pianists of our times perform this music is also how it was meant to be performed. Let it not be forgotten that we have giants from the golden age of piano playing who found it suitable to play Chopin preludes as...yes, that's right, preludes to something else:



Not only is Busoni doing a literal repeat of the tiny A major prelude (Liszt used to do the same, but with the 2nd time being more of an echo of the first), but he's also using the theme to invent his own modulation, going straight into op 10 nr 5. As much as I'd love to see someone in recitals today do something as "daring" (though as a matter of fact such things were a common procedure roughly until the time that the recording industry started to expand), I know it won't happen among the "great pianists" of the professional concert circuit today. As common it was in those days to start a piece with a suitable "prelude" - like here, by one of the greats of the concert circuit from the old days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX6PXkqOr0Y -, typically improvised, it is a habit that disappeared from the concert platform a long long time ago.
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#2009568 - 01/05/13 05:17 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
fnork Offline
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One doesn't have to look deeply into concert programs of this era to find that performing only selected preludes was a fairly common phenomenon. For further reading on "the art of preluding", I recommend Kenneth Hamiltons "After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance".
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#2009575 - 01/05/13 05:24 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Online   content
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Yes, you're right, I have a wonderful CD of Raoul Koczalski whose Chopin playing is wholly individual - and he plays his own improvised 'prelude' to some of the works, as well as linking different works together thus. His sense of phrasing and overall flexibility is something from a bygone age. We've definitely lost a lot...

But in the case of Chopin's Preludes, I think it's a common consensus that he meant them to be played as a set when he composed them, with the ordered key structure and logical leading from one to the next, in several of the pieces.
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"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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#2009577 - 01/05/13 05:31 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
fnork Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
But in the case of Chopin's Preludes, I think it's a common consensus that he meant them to be played as a set when he composed them, with the ordered key structure and logical leading from one to the next, in several of the pieces.

I do think the preludes can be played in groups and as separate pieces as well. I would hardly object to hearing them this way in concert - or, indeed, as preludes to something else. Certainly, some preludes wouldn't fit entirely in such an arrangement - the F major comes to mind, with that 7th coming towards the end of the piece. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if there weren't some pianists of the past who either decided to omit the E flat while playing it as a separate piece, or how about continuing with a piece in B flat...? Why restrict ourselves to only performing the entire set...?
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#2009597 - 01/05/13 06:10 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But in the case of Chopin's Preludes, I think it's a common consensus that he meant them to be played as a set when he composed them, with the ordered key structure and logical leading from one to the next, in several of the pieces.

I do think the preludes can be played in groups and as separate pieces as well. I would hardly object to hearing them this way in concert - or, indeed, as preludes to something else. Certainly, some preludes wouldn't fit entirely in such an arrangement - the F major comes to mind, with that 7th coming towards the end of the piece. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if there weren't some pianists of the past who either decided to omit the E flat while playing it as a separate piece, or how about continuing with a piece in B flat...? Why restrict ourselves to only performing the entire set...?


It's the difference between the professional and the amateur pianist, and their audiences: I'd think critics would raise an eyebrow (maybe even two, or three wink ) if a professional concert pianist played just a selection of the Op.28 for a paying audience today. They'd probably think - are the others too difficult for the pianist? grin

Argerich, for instance, in her recording runs many of the preludes into the next attacca, seemingly to make the point that she regards them as inseparable from each other, that Op.28 is 'one' work. Many other pianists I've heard in concert also do the same.

In general, Chopin's music is regarded with a reverence not applied to someone like Liszt, where octave doublings, interpolated cadenzas, rewritings etc aren't regarded as blasphemous in many of his pieces.
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"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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#2009603 - 01/05/13 06:15 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But in the case of Chopin's Preludes, I think it's a common consensus that he meant them to be played as a set when he composed them, with the ordered key structure and logical leading from one to the next, in several of the pieces.

I do think the preludes can be played in groups and as separate pieces as well. I would hardly object to hearing them this way in concert - or, indeed, as preludes to something else. Certainly, some preludes wouldn't fit entirely in such an arrangement - the F major comes to mind, with that 7th coming towards the end of the piece. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if there weren't some pianists of the past who either decided to omit the E flat while playing it as a separate piece, or how about continuing with a piece in B flat...? Why restrict ourselves to only performing the entire set...?


It's the difference between the professional and the amateur pianist, and their audiences: I'd think critics would raise an eyebrow (maybe even two, or three wink ) if a professional concert pianist played just a selection of the Op.28 for a paying audience today. They'd probably think - are the others too difficult for the pianist? grin

In general, Chopin's music is regarded with a reverence not applied to someone like Liszt, where octave doublings, interpolated cadenzas, rewritings etc aren't regarded as blasphemous in many of his pieces.


So it's not okay for a pro to play a few preludes, say.. 6, 7, 8 from op. 28 in a recital?

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#2009610 - 01/05/13 06:25 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
dolce sfogato Offline
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it's not accepted as the rule, may be as an exception, but it is 'not cricket, not done' to this date.
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Mussorgski tableaux d'une exposition/Rachmaninoff etudes tableaux op.39

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#2009611 - 01/05/13 06:26 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
pianoloverus Online   content
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The playing of all the Preludes as a set is mostly just a tradition over the last maybe half century or so. In the 19th century(for at least 50 years after Chopin's death)it was far more common to not play the entire set.

There are occasional pro pianists today who play just a selection, and this is fairly common in all Chopin recitals. I'm pretty sure Artur Rubinstein did this.

I think it's rather silly to say that critics would assume the pianist couldn't handle all of them was the reason for only playing a selection.

From everything I've read, today's preference for playing the entire set has a lot more to do with today's fashion to play complete sets of works(both in recital and concerts)than any reverence for Chopin.

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#2009612 - 01/05/13 06:26 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Joel_W
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: bennevis
But in the case of Chopin's Preludes, I think it's a common consensus that he meant them to be played as a set when he composed them, with the ordered key structure and logical leading from one to the next, in several of the pieces.

I do think the preludes can be played in groups and as separate pieces as well. I would hardly object to hearing them this way in concert - or, indeed, as preludes to something else. Certainly, some preludes wouldn't fit entirely in such an arrangement - the F major comes to mind, with that 7th coming towards the end of the piece. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if there weren't some pianists of the past who either decided to omit the E flat while playing it as a separate piece, or how about continuing with a piece in B flat...? Why restrict ourselves to only performing the entire set...?


It's the difference between the professional and the amateur pianist, and their audiences: I'd think critics would raise an eyebrow (maybe even two, or three wink ) if a professional concert pianist played just a selection of the Op.28 for a paying audience today. They'd probably think - are the others too difficult for the pianist? grin

In general, Chopin's music is regarded with a reverence not applied to someone like Liszt, where octave doublings, interpolated cadenzas, rewritings etc aren't regarded as blasphemous in many of his pieces.


So it's not okay for a pro to play a few preludes, say.. 6, 7, 8 from op. 28 in a recital?


Well, nothing is black and white. Richter got away with it because he is Richter, and nobody doubted his ability to play, say, no.16 (though in fact he's never played it). But the only time when I've ever heard a pro play a single Prelude from Op.28 (of course, Op.45 is also a favorite encore as well as a stand-alone piece in concert) is as an encore, and it's usually the Raindrop or No.24. I exclude piano competitions, of course.
_________________________
"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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#2009617 - 01/05/13 06:33 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
The playing of all the Preludes as a set is mostly just a tradition over the last maybe half century or so. In the 19th century(for at least 50 years after Chopin's death)it was far more common to not play the entire set.

There are occasional pro pianists today who play just a selection, and this is fairly common in all Chopin recitals. I'm pretty sure Artur Rubinstein did this.

I think it's rather silly to say that critics would assume the pianist couldn't handle all of them was the reason for only playing a selection.

From everything I've read, today's preference for playing the entire set has a lot more to do with today's fashion to play complete sets of works(both in recital and concerts)than any reverence for Chopin.


Don't you think it's rather silly to contradict yourself?
Try a different word next time - it sounds less silly wink
_________________________
"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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#2009620 - 01/05/13 06:41 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
The playing of all the Preludes as a set is mostly just a tradition over the last maybe half century or so. In the 19th century(for at least 50 years after Chopin's death)it was far more common to not play the entire set.

There are occasional pro pianists today who play just a selection, and this is fairly common in all Chopin recitals. I'm pretty sure Artur Rubinstein did this.

I think it's rather silly to say that critics would assume the pianist couldn't handle all of them was the reason for only playing a selection.

From everything I've read, today's preference for playing the entire set has a lot more to do with today's fashion to play complete sets of works(both in recital and concerts)than any reverence for Chopin.


Don't you think it's rather silly to contradict yourself?
Try a different word next time - it sounds less silly wink
Where's the contradiction?

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#2009621 - 01/05/13 06:42 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
pianoloverus Online   content
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"We don't know if Chopin intended them to be played as a cycle, although today's pianists usually perform them that way in recital."

David Dubal from an article in The Wall Street Journal

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#2009625 - 01/05/13 06:45 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
dolce sfogato Offline
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as a cycle they work remarkebly well, for more than a century, why change a winning team?
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Mussorgski tableaux d'une exposition/Rachmaninoff etudes tableaux op.39

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#2009631 - 01/05/13 06:54 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
BDB Online   content
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Abram Chasins discussed playing complete sets in his book, including what Hofmann had to say about it. He said it was something forced on pianists by record companies, which has ended up being a requirement to the detriment of the music.
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#2009634 - 01/05/13 06:57 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
dolce sfogato Offline
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audiences as well as pianists have become used to the whole of op.28, it's Trrrradition.
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Mussorgski tableaux d'une exposition/Rachmaninoff etudes tableaux op.39

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#2009667 - 01/05/13 07:36 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: BruceD]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
I see nothing wrong with programming a selection of Preludes (Chopin?), nor do I feel that they must be performed in chronological order, unless one is playing the complete set.

Regards,


I agree. Apparently Chopin himself never played more than four at a single performance. It is also true that most professionals play the whole set, but in itself (at least IMO) it is not necessary.
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#2009821 - 01/06/13 03:29 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
Damon Offline
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I would never play them as a set unless it was for a recording. That's about 40 minutes of straight Chopin! Yikes!
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#2009843 - 01/06/13 05:49 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
btb Offline
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Thanks for the reminder chaps ... that even Debussy got into the Preludes act ... I'm busy with Prelude I ... and though at a tempo of Lent et grave ... Claude is decidedly "busy"... I've only sampled up to measure 10 (most of the 1st page from
IMSLP.

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#2009852 - 01/06/13 06:24 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: dolce sfogato]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
as a cycle they work remarkebly well, for more than a century, why change a winning team?


Except that they don't work remarkably well as a cycle...the only reason people think they seem to think they do is simply because we've become used to them in that format. Personally, I find them a tedious slog all at once, with the sum being a good deal less than the parts.

And the fact that Chopin came up with a key sequence in which to arrange them for publication says nothing about how he thought they should be performed - if he even imagined they should be performed in concert at all. I think it is just as likely, given his sensibilities, that he would have thought it grotesque and in horrible taste to perform them all at once.

IMO, the only multi-movement pieces of Chopin are the sonatas and concertos. The sets defined by opus number or pieces having the same titles just are not well-suited for single-gulp intake, and I think it is because of sheer programing laziness and timidity that we keep getting recitals of those groupings.

And yes, that kind of programming definitely reflects the priorities of the recordings industry, who liked to market Pianist X playing a complete set of something or another. And the pianists would dutifully go on tour playing stuff in support of the marketing. Now that the old recording industry is rapidly disappearing in the rear-view mirror, maybe there's a chance musicians will learn that there are more interesting ways to put together a recital than throwing together all of a composer's works in some genre or even worse, doing a gradisose "cycle", like all the Beethoven sonata cycles that always seem in progress.

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Kawai CE220 CA65 cabinet vibrations
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