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#2009862 - 01/06/13 07:12 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: wr]
fnork Offline
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Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
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.


Originally Posted By: BDB
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.


Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
audiences as well as pianists have become used to the whole of op.28, it's Trrrradition.



Originally Posted By: wr
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 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.


I like how these quotes somehow sum up the discussion so far. There's since long a tendency for doing "complete" sets because that's normally how we record things. A "Trrrrradition" that arises merely from habit isn't necessarily anything more than a false tradition, is it? The only thing I'm personally against is a sort of uniform view of how things should be played. Just go back in time a century and you'll find that on the one hand there were people like Busoni or Feinberg who did monstrous piano fests with extremely ambitious programs (Feinberg with complete WTC, or complete Scriabin sonatas, or complete Beethoven sonatas, in a season, or Busoni with his generally long and "heavy" programs), while there were people like Rubinstein or Paderewski on the other hand whose concert programs frequently included only selections of miniatures, with only few large-scale works. Just read Rubinsteins biography to see what variety he had in his concert programming - sometimes offering heavy works like Hammerklavier (Godowsky came backstage afterwards thanking him, adding: "But you must practice" smile ), sometimes offering miniatures like Szymanowski preludes and etudes, Medtner smaller pieces, Chopin miniatures...and so on. Is there any good reason for thinking that the only thing acceptable in the concert hall is to play COMPLETE works?

One thing we know for sure - not all composers that performed their own works thought so. Among Medtner's solo recordings, is there a single "complete" set of fairy tales or other pieces? The concerti (and other large-scale works - I hear he recorded the quintet but it hasn't been published?) are a different story of course. What about Rachmaninoff, and his recordings of selected preludes, etc? Story has it that he never performed his Corelli variations in its entirety in concert but skipped variations here and there. Feinberg reportedly never performed his 3rd piano sonata in its entirety, only in parts - possibly due to the difficulty of this particular piece.

Then again, such attitudes as performing only parts of a work - were they partially because of how different audiences were back then, comparing with today? We are more civilized and mannered these days. Kapell described how he played the Copland sonata in south america where two gentlemen got up and started hitting one another with newspaper, one saying that "this is not music", the other responding - "yes it is!". In one of his Fairy Tales, Medtner writes that a repeat may be omitted if the concert audience seem to be losing their interest. (I don't remember exactly how he phrased it)


Edited by fnork (01/06/13 07:24 AM)

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#2009866 - 01/06/13 07:34 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: wr]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wr
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.
Except that's just opinion although you state it as fact.

It's hard or maybe impossible to know whether people thinking the Preludes work well as a set is because they really do or because they are just used to hearing them this way. The only way to judge that would be to get peoples' opinions after they hear the set for the first time. I do think they really work well and don't see any obvious reason why most would find them tedious when played together. They have a huge variety of mood and tempi. They are certainly performed as a set very frequently, and a significant number of great pianists have done so.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/06/13 09:09 AM)

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#2009867 - 01/06/13 07:37 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: wr
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.




I think you're making many assumptions, based on your own perceptions rather than what reality was. For instance, Chopin's Funeral March Sonata was described by Schumann (who, don't forget, introduced Chopin to his learned chums with 'Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!') as 'four of Chopin's wildest children strung together' - and indeed, the March was composed first, with the other movements composed almost as an afterthought to make it into a Sonata. No wonder the March is frequently played by itself. The fact that the four movements sound logical as a Sonata to us is because we're used to hearing it that way, but that wasn't what happened in Chopin's time. But Chopin did compose the Preludes Op.28 as a group, partly in Majorca - whether or not he ever played them all as a set is irrelevant: as I've already said earlier, he had no qualms about just playing the first slow section (Andantino) of his Ballade No.2 all by itself. Would anyone today allow a pianist to get away with doing that? And that's not withstanding the fact that the Andantino ends with a perfect cadence, and could have been a self-sufficient Nocturne if one didn't know any better.....

As for associating the Preludes with the Waltzes, Mazurkas, Ballades, Polonaises, Impromptus, Scherzi, Nocturnes etc, that's talking chalk and cheese. None of the the latter which have the same opus numbers have the same relation to each other as the Preludes have: they were just published together, that's all. And all concert pianists today recognize this, and pick and choose from them (though that doesn't stop a few brave souls like Maria-Joao Pires from performing all the Nocturnes in one concert (and nothing else...) in chronological order in the Proms a few years ago).

And several of the Preludes are very brief, lasting well under a minute, and sounding very insubstantial by themselves - take No.1, for instance, which sounds like, er, a prelude. Chopin never composed anything shorter than several of the individual Preludes. There's nothing to stop an enterprising pianist from using one or other of these Preludes as a prelude to some other piece, as pianists used to do in the Golden Age, but the fact remains that unlike any of Chopin's other pieces grouped under the same opus number (or title), his Op.28 was conceived as a cycle. Which is the way almost all concert pianists of renown play it today.
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#2009871 - 01/06/13 07:50 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
fnork Offline
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Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: bennevis
As for associating the Preludes with the Waltzes, Mazurkas, Ballades, Polonaises, Impromptus, Scherzi, Nocturnes etc, that's talking chalk and cheese. None of the the latter which have the same opus numbers have the same relation to each other as the Preludes have: they were just published together, that's all.

It's fine to argue this way regarding Ballades, Impromptus, Scherzi and several Polonaises, as these pieces typically (with the exception of some polonaises) were not published in groups but under separate opus numbers. However, Chopin quite frequently took pains in the exact ordering of Mazurkas and other pieces that were to be grouped together, sometimes to create a more logical sequence of keys for example. Read Jan Ekier's comments in the national edition of, say, the mazurkas, for more information - op. 56 was supposedly first grouped with the short fast C major opening the set, followed by the B major one and then the big C minor mazurka. The way they eventually became grouped, there was a logical sequence between the last two - both in C, first in major, then the last one in minor.


Edited by fnork (01/06/13 07:52 AM)

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#2009872 - 01/06/13 07:53 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis

I think you're making many assumptions, based on your own perceptions rather than what reality was. For instance, Chopin's Funeral March Sonata was described by Schumann (who, don't forget, introduced Chopin to his learned chums with 'Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!') as 'four of Chopin's wildest children strung together' - and indeed, the March was composed first, with the other movements composed almost as an afterthought to make it into a Sonata. No wonder the March is frequently played by itself. The fact that the four movements sound logical as a Sonata to us is because we're used to hearing it that way, but that wasn't what happened in Chopin's time. But Chopin did compose the Preludes Op.28 as a group, partly in Majorca - whether or not he ever played them all as a set is irrelevant: as I've already said earlier, he had no qualms about just playing the first slow section (Andantino) of his Ballade No.2 all by itself. Would anyone today allow a pianist to get away with doing that? And that's not withstanding the fact that the Andantino ends with a perfect cadence, and could have been a self-sufficient Nocturne if one didn't know any better.....


Let's see if I'm getting this right - Chopin was so clueless he didn't really know what a sonata was, but still, somehow, for unknown reasons and although it was never explicitly stated, he wanted the preludes performed as a group simply because of some vaguely defined compositional proximity, which substituted for all that was lacking in his comprehension of what a sonata might be. Or something....

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#2009873 - 01/06/13 08:00 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: bennevis
As for associating the Preludes with the Waltzes, Mazurkas, Ballades, Polonaises, Impromptus, Scherzi, Nocturnes etc, that's talking chalk and cheese. None of the the latter which have the same opus numbers have the same relation to each other as the Preludes have: they were just published together, that's all.

It's fine to argue this way regarding Ballades, Impromptus, Scherzi and several Polonaises, as these pieces typically (with the exception of some polonaises) were not published in groups but under separate opus numbers. However, Chopin quite frequently took pains in the exact ordering of Mazurkas and other pieces that were to be grouped together, sometimes to create a more logical sequence of keys for example. Read Jan Ekier's comments in the national edition of, say, the mazurkas, for more information - op. 56 was supposedly first grouped with the short fast C major opening the set, followed by the B major one and then the big C minor mazurka. The way they eventually became grouped, there was a logical sequence between the last two - both in C, first in major, then the last one in minor.


That's interesting. But what about the Nocturnes and Waltzes that have the same opus number? Were they also ordered and grouped by Chopin with intent?
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#2009875 - 01/06/13 08:05 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: bennevis

I think you're making many assumptions, based on your own perceptions rather than what reality was. For instance, Chopin's Funeral March Sonata was described by Schumann (who, don't forget, introduced Chopin to his learned chums with 'Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!') as 'four of Chopin's wildest children strung together' - and indeed, the March was composed first, with the other movements composed almost as an afterthought to make it into a Sonata. No wonder the March is frequently played by itself. The fact that the four movements sound logical as a Sonata to us is because we're used to hearing it that way, but that wasn't what happened in Chopin's time. But Chopin did compose the Preludes Op.28 as a group, partly in Majorca - whether or not he ever played them all as a set is irrelevant: as I've already said earlier, he had no qualms about just playing the first slow section (Andantino) of his Ballade No.2 all by itself. Would anyone today allow a pianist to get away with doing that? And that's not withstanding the fact that the Andantino ends with a perfect cadence, and could have been a self-sufficient Nocturne if one didn't know any better.....


Let's see if I'm getting this right - Chopin was so clueless he didn't really know what a sonata was, but still, somehow, for unknown reasons and although it was never explicitly stated, he wanted the preludes performed as a group simply because of some vaguely defined compositional proximity, which substituted for all that was lacking in his comprehension of what a sonata might be. Or something.....



Yes, you've got it right wink

Incidentally, Schumann's Piano Concerto too was never conceived as such - he originally composed the first movement as a concert piece by itself. But his wife egged him to turn it into a 'proper' concerto, so like a dutiful husband,......
_________________________
"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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#2009882 - 01/06/13 08:23 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: fnork
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".


And various composers of the day published preludes through all the keys, to be used as that kind of "filler". Chopin would have been familiar with such sets of preludes, and would have seen his own as perhaps a comment of sorts on that tradition.

Chopin revered Hummel, and Hummel was one of the composers who published such a set of preludes in all the keys - it's not outside the realm of possibility that they were the specific inspiration for Chopin's own set, which extended the idea to make them into short, independent pieces. But there's nothing to suggest that Chopin thought his should all be played at once, any more than those of Hummel were intended to be played as a group.

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#2009895 - 01/06/13 08:45 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
fnork Offline
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Loc: Helsinki, Finland
In addition to that, let's not forget that Chopin was greatly influenced by Bach's WTK in his writing - he knew WTK intimately and practiced these pieces frequently. Often prior to a performance (where he played his own works, of course), he would shut himself in and practice Bach several hours.

Did Bach intend WTK to be performed in its entirety...?

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#2009897 - 01/06/13 08:51 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
fnork Offline
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Loc: Helsinki, Finland
There were other sets of preludes in all keys than just Hummels - Joseph Christoph Kessler dedicated his set of 24 preludes op. 31 to Chopin. In return, the German edition of Chopin's op. 24 was dedicated to Kessler.

It is not true by the way that all preludes were written while Chopin was in Mallorca. He started the work in 1835, and the Mallorca trip took place around 1838-39.

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#2009901 - 01/06/13 09:01 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: fnork
In addition to that, let's not forget that Chopin was greatly influenced by Bach's WTK in his writing - he knew WTK intimately and practiced these pieces frequently. Often prior to a performance (where he played his own works, of course), he would shut himself in and practice Bach several hours.

Did Bach intend WTK to be performed in its entirety...?


Bach probably never intended his WTC to be performed in public - they were written 'for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning'.

Whatever that means....

BTW, I didn't say that Chopin wrote all his Preludes in Majorca 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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#2009909 - 01/06/13 09:23 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
I think you're making many assumptions, based on your own perceptions rather than what reality was. For instance, Chopin's Funeral March Sonata was described by Schumann (who, don't forget, introduced Chopin to his learned chums with 'Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!') as 'four of Chopin's wildest children strung together' - and indeed, the March was composed first, with the other movements composed almost as an afterthought to make it into a Sonata. No wonder the March is frequently played by itself. The fact that the four movements sound logical as a Sonata to us is because we're used to hearing it that way, but that wasn't what happened in Chopin's time. But Chopin did compose the Preludes Op.28 as a group, partly in Majorca - whether or not he ever played them all as a set is irrelevant:
I have never heard or read in a listing of concert programs of the Funeral March being played separately in at least the last 50 years. Perhaps you're referring to the fact it's played separately at funerals. In the 19th century perhaps it was played separately because many sonatas or other multi-movement works were played only in parts then.

Schumann's opinion about the movements of Op.35 not working well together is just one person's opinion. Many think otherwise among the greatest pianists and important critics, and this work has been performed as a whole for a long time and by many of the greatest pianists. The fact that the Funeral March was composed before the rest of the Sonata or that the Preludes were composed within a smaller time frame is IMO not really relevant in terms of whether or not the movements work together.

David Dubal is considered to be one of the most expert pianophiles and he has stated that no one knows whether Chopin intended the Preludes to be played as a set.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/06/13 09:26 AM)

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#2009928 - 01/06/13 10:37 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I have never heard or read in a listing of concert programs of the Funeral March being played separately in at least the last 50 years. Perhaps you're referring to the fact it's played separately at funerals. In the 19th century perhaps it was played separately because many sonatas or other multi-movement works were played only in parts then.

Schumann's opinion about the movements of Op.35 not working well together is just one person's opinion. Many think otherwise among the greatest pianists and important critics, and this work has been performed as a whole for a long time and by many of the greatest pianists. The fact that the Funeral March was composed before the rest of the Sonata or that the Preludes were composed within a smaller time frame is IMO not really relevant in terms of whether or not the movements work together.

David Dubal is considered to be one of the most expert pianophiles and he has stated that no one knows whether Chopin intended the Preludes to be played as a set.
.

I've heard the Funeral March played at least three times as encores over the years, in all-Chopin recitals. The last time was by Louis Lortie, who decided to play also the finale (attacca). I don't think any pianist would fish out any other Chopin Sonata movement to play as stand-alone pieces, even as encores. I've certainly never heard any pianist play a Chopin Prelude as an encore (apart from Op.45), even though one or two of them might serve well.

As for what Chopin actually thought when he composed the work - who knows? Composers often do things with their music that they probably wouldn't want others to do - like what Rachmaninoff did when performing his Corelli variations, skipping the next one whenever the coughing increased grin (apparently, in one particularly noisy concert, the audience only got to hear half the total number of variations) . We only have the evidence of the music to go on, and some of the Preludes do seem to lead logically on to the next . And most Chopin scholars agree that Op.28 work logically as a complete set, for instance Jeffrey Kresky in A Reader's Guide to the Chopin Preludes.
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#2009943 - 01/06/13 11:04 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
Piano Again Offline
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On the cello, I once played the preludes of Bach's first three solo cello suites as a group -- it was on a program with other chamber music. I have never heard of that being done by anyone else, but IMO it worked pretty well!

I would think whether you play something like Chopin's preludes as group or selections from them would depend on what else was on your program, what you were trying to accomplish or express with the performance, and so on. I for one am tired of concert programs that include an entire set, or only music by one composer. You might as well listen to a recording. It's more interesting to hear juxtapositions of pieces not usually played side by side.
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#2010009 - 01/06/13 01:47 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: fnork
....The only thing I'm personally against is a sort of uniform view of how things should be played....

Sorry to quote just one sentence from your terrific post. grin
Love the whole post, wanted to highlight that part.

And regarding these Preludes I think we can say that the good news for Joel is that this in fact is the most commonly-held view (I mean not just here, but in general): There isn't just one way to do it. And I don't remember if this has been mentioned (sorry! but I think not, and I think that interestingly nothing at all has been said about his specific selections) ....the idea of beginning with the 'hardest' of the ones that he's playing is striking and interesting, and I think his ordering can be very effective.

BTW I think Op. 28 does work great as a full set. To me it's tedious or questionable only when not done well. Although I realize that what Plover said is true:

Quote:
It's hard or maybe impossible to know whether people thinking the Preludes work well as a set is because they really do or because they are just used to hearing them this way.



P.S. Years ago (before our time) Horowitz played all 4 Ballades at a recital -- but backwards. (OK, I don't mean..... ha you know what I mean.) smile
I was struck when I saw that, but thinking about it, it made immediate sense to me. Doing them in the 'regular' order would make sense too, but this seemed more compelling, and more interesting.


Edited by Mark_C (01/06/13 02:13 PM)
Edit Reason: took out some stupid stuff

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#2010051 - 01/06/13 02:29 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: fnork
....The only thing I'm personally against is a sort of uniform view of how things should be played....

Sorry to quote just one sentence from your terrific post. grin
Love the whole post, wanted to highlight that part.

And remember y'all, we're answering the OP -- or at least we want to partly answer the OP, right? ha
He wondered if it's OK to do excerpts, and if he can do them in whatever order he might choose.

And the answer is yes, isn't it? Let's be clear about that. About these Preludes, the good news for him is that while maybe they are usually played as a full set by professionals, I think the most common view on the OP question is in fact pretty much what fnork said here: There isn't just one way to do it.

BTW I think Op. 28 does work great as a full set. To me it's tedious or questionable only when not done well.


In case anyone gets the wrong impression from all that I've said earlier (wouldn't be the first time wink ), I'd reiterate what I said in my first reply to the OP here - that amateurs often play selections from the set, and would add that there's nothing wrong with that. I don't often attend student recitals, but do know that many students choose programs quite differently from professional pianists: they might play just one Schubert Klavierst├╝cke from D946 and pair it with an Impromptu from D899 for instance, whereas professionals will almost invariably play the whole set in concert, even though there's really no reason to. (Saying that however, I've not heard any student play his own selection from Chopin's Op.28 either). Similarly, no professional will play just a few pieces from Schumann's Kinderszenen, or Kreisleriana, or Carnaval, or even from Fantasiest├╝cke Op.12 (except Richter, again....), except as an encore.

Interestingly, I've never heard Krystian Zimerman play the Chopin Op.28 in concert, though I have a CD from the Chopin Competition where he played a few selected Preludes. Maybe he only likes a few of the Preludes but didn't feel able to just play those he liked in concert? Does anyone know anything different?
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#2010055 - 01/06/13 02:35 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
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Would you not go to a concert because the pianist played just a few of the Preludes, rather than all of them?

Frankly, what the pianist plays rarely has anything to do with whether I go to a concert or not.
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#2010062 - 01/06/13 02:43 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
....Similarly, no professional will play just a few pieces from Schumann's Kinderszenen, or Kreisleriana, or Carnaval....

How 'similar' would you really say those are to the Preludes?
I would say not very. I wouldn't consider doing excerpts from those, but I'd most definitely consider it fair game for the Chopin.

Quote:
....or even from Op.12

As you sort of imply, that's not really with the above group that you mentioned either -- a little bit sort of, but not really. And I have heard just selections performed from that in a professional recital. And we could argue that Kinderszenen doesn't really belong in the group either.

Distinctions on something like this make a difference. When we start lumping things together we can get into trouble.

Originally Posted By: BDB
Frankly, what the pianist plays rarely has anything to do with whether I go to a concert or not.

I agree, and I'd be surprised if anyone would boycott a recital because someone was doing just excerpts from Op. 28. ha

But I do sometimes go to piano recitals for a particular piece.


P.S. The main "excerpting" that I hate, probably the only, is when people at amateur competitions play a single movement of a late Beethoven sonata.

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#2010066 - 01/06/13 02:47 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Pianists break up sets all of the time. You hear selections of Miroirs, Liszt's Annees, Scriabin prelude and etude groups, transcendental etudes, etc. and it's not unusual...


Edited by Kuanpiano (01/06/13 02:47 PM)
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Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2010106 - 01/06/13 04:02 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: bennevis

I've heard the Funeral March played at least three times as encores over the years, in all-Chopin recitals. The last time was by Louis Lortie, who decided to play also the finale (attacca). I don't think any pianist would fish out any other Chopin Sonata movement to play as stand-alone pieces, even as encores. I've certainly never heard any pianist play a Chopin Prelude as an encore (apart from Op.45), even though one or two of them might serve well.

As for what Chopin actually thought when he composed the work - who knows? Composers often do things with their music that they probably wouldn't want others to do - like what Rachmaninoff did when performing his Corelli variations, skipping the next one whenever the coughing increased grin (apparently, in one particularly noisy concert, the audience only got to hear half the total number of variations) . We only have the evidence of the music to go on, and some of the Preludes do seem to lead logically on to the next . And most Chopin scholars agree that Op.28 work logically as a complete set, for instance Jeffrey Kresky in A Reader's Guide to the Chopin Preludes.
My point and statement was that the Funeral March is virtually never played as part of the regular (non-encore) part of a recital. I think it would work fine as an encore. As far as pianists not playing any other Chopin sonata movement separately that is not the case. As an encore Katsaris has played the last movement of Op. 58.

I never said that Preludes don't work logically as a complete set...in fact, I said the opposite somewhere previously in this thread. My statement was that apparently no one knows what Chopin's intentions were in this regard.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/06/13 04:12 PM)

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#2010112 - 01/06/13 04:09 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: bennevis]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: bennevis

I don't often attend student recitals, but do know that many students choose programs quite differently from professional pianists: they might play just one Schubert Klavierstucke from D946 and pair it with an Impromptu from D899 for instance, whereas professionals will almost invariably play the whole set in concert, even though there's really no reason to. (Saying that however, I've not heard any student play his own selection from Chopin's Op.28 either). Similarly, no professional will play just a few pieces from Schumann's Kinderszenen, or Kreisleriana, or Carnaval, or even from Op.12 (except Richter, again....), except as an encore,
I think what you mean is "there's no reason they have to". There's clearly a reason why they play them together as they are the same opus. It's like playing Chopin Mazurkas...some pianists will group a random selection, but others will play an entire opus and there's a clear reason when they choose to do that.

Kinderscenen is virtually always performed as a whole(except in encore situation)as are Kreisleriana and Carnaval. Op. 12 probably has more instances of being played only in part than the other three.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/06/13 04:12 PM)

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#2010118 - 01/06/13 04:17 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
And regarding these Preludes I think we can say that the good news for Joel is that this in fact is the most commonly-held view (I mean not just here, but in general): There isn't just one way to do it.
Since Joel is an amateur pianist in high school most of the discussion in the thread is irrelevant for him. I think the most commonly held view among professionals today(based on what they do)is that the Preludes should be played as a group. It's quite rare for them to play selections although this occurs sometimes in all Chopin recitals.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/06/13 04:17 PM)

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#2010175 - 01/06/13 05:57 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: pianoloverus]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
And regarding these Preludes I think we can say that the good news for Joel is that this in fact is the most commonly-held view (I mean not just here, but in general): There isn't just one way to do it.
Since Joel is an amateur pianist in high school most of the discussion in the thread is irrelevant for him. I think the most commonly held view among professionals today(based on what they do)is that the Preludes should be played as a group. It's quite rare for them to play selections although this occurs sometimes in all Chopin recitals.


You know, PLOV... even the Chopin competition regularly includes a selection of preludes from op. 28 in the competition repertoire.

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#2010189 - 01/06/13 06:53 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: dolce sfogato]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
as a cycle they work remarkably well, for more than a century, why change a winning team?

I will accept that Chopin may not have intended his Preludes to be played as a whole, but I agree that 'they work remarkably well' as a cycle. I have heard them done so in recital at least four times, and it was a very powerful experience. I was never bored.

OTH, I have heard a selection of the Preludes played (though mostly by students I might add), but I didn't have a problem with that either.
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#2010420 - 01/07/13 06:09 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: Mark_C]
fnork Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
P.S. The main "excerpting" that I hate, probably the only, is when people at amateur competitions play a single movement of a late Beethoven sonata.

I must admit to having committed such a sin at a "professional" competition wink I did the outer movements of Hammerklavier, and whatever objections could be made for doing such a thing, it was partially a statement on my part. What the heck are you supposed to do when the time limit is 30 minutes and you're supposed to include a baroque piece, something classical, and two etudes? There was a judge who criticized me for doing this, while there apparently was no problem for him to vote in favor for pianists (who were among the finalists) who performed either the final two movements of appasionata or the first one.

In any case, playing late beethoven in any competition is certainly risky business laugh Hammy fares a bit better than the even later ones because of its reputation (Antti Siirala, who these days teaches at my academy, was only around 18 or so when he won the Beethoven competition playing this piece - it's quite a feat for anyone but especially for someone his age. Maria Mazo seems to have been seen in a more favorable light at the Cliburn competition due to the fact that she performed this in the semifinals, although I'd easily find numerous things to criticize in her playing), but it only works if you play it in a bigger competition where you have room for such a huge piece.

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#2010552 - 01/07/13 11:47 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
P.S. The main "excerpting" that I hate, probably the only, is when people at amateur competitions play a single movement of a late Beethoven sonata.

I must admit to having committed such a sin at a "professional" competition wink I did the outer movements of Hammerklavier, and whatever objections could be made for doing such a thing, it was partially a statement on my part. What the heck are you supposed to do when the time limit is 30 minutes and you're supposed to include a baroque piece, something classical, and two etudes? There was a judge who criticized me for doing this, while there apparently was no problem for him to vote in favor for pianists (who were among the finalists) who performed either the final two movements of appasionata or the first one.

In any case, playing late beethoven in any competition is certainly risky business laugh Hammy fares a bit better than the even later ones because of its reputation (Antti Siirala, who these days teaches at my academy, was only around 18 or so when he won the Beethoven competition playing this piece - it's quite a feat for anyone but especially for someone his age. Maria Mazo seems to have been seen in a more favorable light at the Cliburn competition due to the fact that she performed this in the semifinals, although I'd easily find numerous things to criticize in her playing), but it only works if you play it in a bigger competition where you have room for such a huge piece.


Is Siirala still giving concerts? He seemed to have disappeared off the radar soon after winning the Leeds, though he did make a nice recording of Brahms's Op.5 Sonata. It seems that Olli Mustonen gets all the international glory among pianists from Finland, in spite (or maybe because) of his 'wood-pecking' pianism...

It's quite common for pianists to play just the first movement of a Sonata, or the last two in the earlier rounds in international piano competitions, but playing just both fast outer movements is probably not the done thing. I've not heard that done in the Leeds, for instance.
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#2010555 - 01/07/13 11:57 AM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
fnork Offline
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Registered: 10/01/04
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Yes, he maintains a rather busy concert schedule as far as I know, just as some other finnish pianists I know, like Paavali Jumppanen. And then in addition, there's a rather sizeable group of freelancers that play here and there (in Finland mainly) and keep themselves busy, but in spite of their qualities as pianists, you won't hear much about them outside of Finland.

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#2010577 - 01/07/13 12:46 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: fnork]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
P.S. The main "excerpting" that I hate, probably the only, is when people at amateur competitions play a single movement of a late Beethoven sonata.

I must admit to having committed such a sin at a "professional" competition wink I did the outer movements of Hammerklavier....

Oh -- I wasn't talking about the Hammerklavier! grin
In fact, I wasn't even thinking about it. (If I had been, I would have said "except maybe for the Hammerklavier.")

Why I didn't: People in amateur competitions don't play the Hammerklavier.


(Also maybe another reason but that's the main one.) smile


Another possible exception: I wouldn't go nuts over someone playing just the 1st mvt of Op. 101. I wouldn't do it, but I don't think it's terrible.

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#2010587 - 01/07/13 01:07 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
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I think that if you really had time constraints, the last movement of op.109 or 110 sort of work alone in the same way that the Chaconne can sort of stand alone from the D minor partita.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2010619 - 01/07/13 02:02 PM Re: Performing Preludes [Re: argerichfan]
SlatterFan Offline
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Registered: 08/13/09
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Loc: Brighton, UK
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
I will accept that Chopin may not have intended his Preludes to be played as a whole, but I agree that 'they work remarkably well' as a cycle.

I agree. And, while we don't know Chopin's intentions, it seems to me that of his Opus 28, numbers 8, 12, 16 & 24 all make very dramatic and effective final pieces when playing them in groups. If one were programming an old-fashioned music evening, one might choose to play 1-8, then accompany a singer for a couple of songs, then play 9-16, then do another couple of songs, then play 17-24, with a popular waltz or mazurka and an improvisation on a popular melody to finish. In a formal, modern-style concert, one could finish the first half with 1-12, then start the second half with 13-24.

Put simply, there are other ways of playing the whole of Opus 28 to an audience than presenting all 24 pieces in a row. Having said that, I think some of the preludes sound pretty good on their own or in pairs. And some could work well as preludes to other works, by Chopin or other composers.

(I have only seen them played once, as a complete set by Pollini in London in 2011, and it was fun seeing and hearing a flutter of recognition amongst some audience members when number 15 began, as if to say, "Ohhhhh, I never knew that this lovely piece was part of a whole set!")
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