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#2031938 - 02/12/13 03:44 PM Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky
Opus_Maximus Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1494
This is from the Cliburn e-newsltter. On hearing 133 pianists play recitals in Hong Kong, Moscow, Milan, New York, and Ft. Worth for the Cliburn competition pre-screening, Kaplinsky says:

"To go around the world and hearing dozens of people sound as good as one person used to 50 years ago, it's very impressive. The idea of missing notes being excusable, that's out the window. People don't miss any notes anymore, which is unheard of when I was growing up. They all play performances that are clean. The level of mastery of the instrument has certainly gone up."

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#2031945 - 02/12/13 03:57 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13802
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Does she say anything about the level of artistry in the newsletter? From the excerpt you quote, it seems that she's almost equating mastery with accuracy.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2031960 - 02/12/13 04:19 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Opus_Maximus Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1494
I know. That's the disturbing part. And no, she doesn't . Here is the whole article:


Yoheved Kaplinsky, John Giordano, and Richard Dyer

The Cliburn continues its international Screening Auditions in New York City this week at Rockefeller University's Caspary Auditorium, February 11-16, and then at TCU's Ed Landreth Auditorium in Fort Worth, February 20-22. All auditions are free and open to the public with detailed schedule information online.

In a recent Star-Telegram article, Juror Veda Kaplinsky commented on the quality of applicants so far: "To go around the world and hearing dozens of people sound as good as one person used to 50 years ago, it's very impressive. The idea of missing notes being excusable, that's out the window. People don't miss notes anymore, which is unheard of when I was growing up. They all play performances that are clean. The level of mastery of the instrument has certainly gone up."

Many piano competitions accept live recordings from their applicants to select their competitors. But with many tough decisions to be made, the Cliburn believes that live auditions are the fairest way to cull the field.

When asked about the live auditions, Jacques Marquis, interim executive director, notes that "there is nothing like a live audition. In split seconds, each candidate has to react to the piano, the hall, and the sound he/she generates and produces."

After auditions in Hong Kong, Hannover, Moscow, Milan, New York, and Fort Worth, 133 pianists from 35 countries will have performed a 40-minute recital of their choosing in front of a five-member jury for a chance to be one of 30 to compete in the 2013 Cliburn Competition.

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#2032271 - 02/13/13 04:50 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Kreisler]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7896
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Does she say anything about the level of artistry in the newsletter? From the excerpt you quote, it seems that she's almost equating mastery with accuracy.


Artistry? That would sort of get in the way, don't you think?

As piano competitions devolve into being pure PR exercises, they are starting to resemble some unholy cross between reality television shows and the ice skating competition circuit (at least it seems so from what little I actually know about those forms of entertainment).

I got the Cliburn email and realized with some dismay that they were being held again this year. Seems like the last one is barely over. This may be the first time I actually can resist, and say that life's simply too short to pay any attention to that nonsense. But, like accidents on the roadside, there's something weirdly attention-grabbing about it, now that it's on the 'net. I'll decide when the time comes...

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#2032280 - 02/13/13 05:33 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
It is not just piano competitions. At the conservatory graduation recitals I went to last year, the highest marks went to the most spliced-CD-like-accurate performances, not the most artistic or musical. Sad, really.

Classical pianists in competition for a graduation place, a competition place or a concert gig seem to be resembling more closely trained monkeys rather than musicians.

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#2032291 - 02/13/13 06:36 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
While most agree that the level of technical mastery has gone up, I strongly disagree with those who think the level of musicianship has declined. I think virtually all those who place highly in competitions are have extremely high levels in both areas. Perhaps those who think otherwise could post some videos of pianists who placed highly in a recent major competition but have, in their opinion, less than stellar musicianship?

IMO if one was trying to apply logic to the current competition situation, one would conclude that since the technical level is so uniformly high, that area becomes mostly a given and the qualities that will distinguish those who place highly in major competitions will be musical and not technical ones.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/13/13 06:40 AM)

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#2032328 - 02/13/13 08:23 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: pianoloverus]
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5319
Loc: McAllen, TX
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
While most agree that the level of technical mastery has gone up, I strongly disagree with those who think the level of musicianship has declined. I think virtually all those who place highly in competitions are have extremely high levels in both areas. Perhaps those who think otherwise could post some videos of pianists who placed highly in a recent major competition but have, in their opinion, less than stellar musicianship?


Most, if not all, of the recent Cliburn winners and finalists, IMO.
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#2032359 - 02/13/13 09:14 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Brendan]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: Brendan
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
While most agree that the level of technical mastery has gone up, I strongly disagree with those who think the level of musicianship has declined. I think virtually all those who place highly in competitions are have extremely high levels in both areas. Perhaps those who think otherwise could post some videos of pianists who placed highly in a recent major competition but have, in their opinion, less than stellar musicianship?


Most, if not all, of the recent Cliburn winners and finalists, IMO.


Or most other big competition winners.

I'll tell you a story. A very great young artist (pianist) played for Louis Lortie in a masterclass. Lortie LOVED the person's playing, and said it was different and convincing and incredibly artistic. He didn't even work on anything with his playing in the class - he didn't want to; just suggested he play some more stuff, because he enjoyed the person's playing so much. But he also said he's not a competition player - and he's right.

Competitions don't seek out the best artist, the best musician, they place their search based on other merits - such as certain charm that transfers to the audience, CLEAN PLAYING, and non-offensive interpretation. Competition wins/losses are NOT a true reflection of someone's playing. Not most of the time anyway.

I was listening to Radu Lupu's Brahms yesterday on the way home, and man ... no one plays like that anymore. Whenever I've heard any of the op. 118, 119 or 117, it sounds like [censored], nothing special, JUST NOTES, accurately played. I think even I was a bit guilty of that when I played 118 at an adjudicated recital - because I was so afraid to open up from fear of wrong notes. The old, great recordings - studio recordings - yes they are great, but if you went live to see the artist play.... it wasn't clean. Cliburn, Horowitz, you name it.

The degree of importance placed on playing clean is absolutely disgusting because IT DOES REPLACE ARTISTRY in the end, in these people's minds. Go to ANY big competition - the most artistic ones get cut in the first round. Guaranteed.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2032365 - 02/13/13 09:35 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Pogorelich.]
fnork Offline
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Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
The only question to ask oneself when hearing winners (or losers) of music competitions is - would I go to a concert to hear this? Was I moved? Looking through the list of winners of the past Cliburn competitions, my answer regarding most of them would be...nah, I wouldn't bother.

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#2032378 - 02/13/13 10:00 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
pianovirus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 953
Loc: Basel, Switzerland
I think it's very interesting to look at how the art of piano playing is evolving and to what extent competitions are driving "mainstream" into a certain direction. In this respect, I'm not that pessimistic as some of you, although I can sympathize with the arguments made.

I don't think that the undoubted general increase in pianistic standards does have to come at the expense of individuality and artistry, or that it is even replacing artistry as Pogorelich is suggesting. Btw, "clean" is a really bad word IMO, as it already hints our association in the negative direction of "clinical/aseptic", the opposite of a piano playing with life and soul..well maybe it's just my association.

So what about the role of competitions? Again, I partially agree with the points made by others. But look at people like Trifonov, Bozhanov, Geniusas who all came to finals in the last Chopin competition. Look at Blechacz. Anna Vinnitskaya (Queen Elizabeth winner). Alexander Gavrylyuk (Rubinstein winner). Just to name a random few ones with strong subjective note in their playing who came to prominence in major competitions.

Also, one thing not too forget is that playing "eccentric" does not by itself constitute an artistic quality. I think Avdeeva's 1st place in the Chopin competition came along with big controversy just because she played the least eccentric of all finalists. Still she is a great artist with (IMO) somewhat more "classical" qualities; I saw her live in a recital quite some time before she won the Chopin competition (and enthusiastically wrote about it here)...

Admitted, regarding the previous Van Cliburn competition, not so much has stayed in my memory (but maybe I'm just too forgetful). One pianist I do remember from back then is Eduard Kunz; he gave a spectacular, extremely subjective account of two Scarlatti sonatas that from a purist perspective might be considered as overly romanticized (I absolutely loved it). With this, he made it into the 2nd round. Unfortunately he really did not play well enough in the 2nd round, and I remember that I found that performance really distracting in terms of pianistic standards (trying to avoid the "clean" word).

Still, I fully agree that a lot of great artists are missed in these competitions and won't have a chance in a majority vote selection process if they polarize too much. I for one, adore the path that Pogorelich (now I'm talking about the "real" one ;-) ) is taking in recent years (not saying that everyone should play like that, but I'm glad that some artists are exploring this path). However, it's quite clear that no young artist with such an extreme approach would stand any chance in a competition...

All in all, I think it's an exciting thing to see the general levels of pianistic standards rising. Who would have thought that e.g. Ligeti etudes would enter classical repertoire so quickly and be played by students in every conservatory around the world? In my impression, among the many highly skilled pianists we are still finding many, many interesting artistic personalities of all kinds.
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#2032382 - 02/13/13 10:06 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Good artist doesn't mean eccentric.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2032389 - 02/13/13 10:19 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: pianovirus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: pianovirus
All in all, I think it's an exciting thing to see the general levels of pianistic standards rising. Who would have thought that e.g. Ligeti etudes would enter classical repertoire so quickly and be played by students in every conservatory around the world?

Thinking about it for a moment, there's nothing strange with seeing Ligeti etudes entering the repertoire of students everywhere. Remember, they are etudes first of all - in other words, a normal requirement in both competitions and in examinations at conservatories everywhere. While there HAVE been other etudes written for piano during the past 60 years or so (Dusapin, Perle, Corigliano, Lindberg and Leighton, to mention just a few), Ligeti has so many to choose between and so many levels of difficulties - really, some of them are far from as difficult as they may sound. Also, they work well as stand-alone pieces - that can't be said for several of the "etude sets" mentioned. Since most conservatories and competitions require a "modern piece" to be performed as well, it's hardly surprising that young pianists try these etudes out. It's worth mentioning that one of the teachers at my academy did a project several years ago where his students performed the COMPLETE etudes. A friend of mine ended up getting all of the most difficult ones - Desordre, autumn a varsovia and l'escalier du diable! :p


Edited by fnork (02/13/13 10:19 AM)

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#2032396 - 02/13/13 10:25 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Brendan]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Brendan
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
While most agree that the level of technical mastery has gone up, I strongly disagree with those who think the level of musicianship has declined. I think virtually all those who place highly in competitions are have extremely high levels in both areas. Perhaps those who think otherwise could post some videos of pianists who placed highly in a recent major competition but have, in their opinion, less than stellar musicianship?


Most, if not all, of the recent Cliburn winners and finalists, IMO.
Would also say that about the recent winners/finalists of competitions like Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Leeds, or other big competitions or do you think it's more true for the Cliburn Competition?

And, a related question...do you think most of those who even are admitted to these big competitions have some lacking in the musicianship area compared to pianists of 10 or 25 years ago, or do you think that is more true of the winners than the competitors as a whole?

Perhaps these questions are too awkward or specific to answer in a public forum and, if so, no need to reply.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/13/13 10:55 AM)

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#2032397 - 02/13/13 10:27 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Pogorelich.]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4831
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Good artist doesn't mean eccentric.


I wouldn't say eccentricity = artistry, but it definitely does play a major roll IMO. Gould, Horowitz, Pogorelich, Stanislav Bunin, and Byron Janis quickly come to mind.. and I'm sure there's more.. but they were all kooky in their own way. I think to be a true artist you really have to be different. Not just the pianists, but the composers - especially! That's how art moves forward and evolves. If that never happened, we'd all be stuck still listening to Gregorian Chant.

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#2032411 - 02/13/13 10:59 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
The only question to ask oneself when hearing winners (or losers) of music competitions is - would I go to a concert to hear this? Was I moved? Looking through the list of winners of the past Cliburn competitions, my answer regarding most of them would be...nah, I wouldn't bother.
All/most of the recent Cliburn winners/finalists of the last 20 years or just the winners/finalists from the most recent competition? What about winners/finalists from competitions like the Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Leeds, etc. for the last 10 years or so?


Edited by pianoloverus (02/13/13 11:01 AM)

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#2032545 - 02/13/13 03:40 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Good artist doesn't mean eccentric.


I wouldn't say eccentricity = artistry, but it definitely does play a major roll IMO. Gould, Horowitz, Pogorelich, Stanislav Bunin, and Byron Janis quickly come to mind.. and I'm sure there's more.. but they were all kooky in their own way. I think to be a true artist you really have to be different. Not just the pianists, but the composers - especially! That's how art moves forward and evolves. If that never happened, we'd all be stuck still listening to Gregorian Chant.

Rubinstein, Gilels and Arrau come across as great pianists who weren't at all eccentric and still provide very exciting and communicative piano playing. And I don't that being different means being a true artist. I think great musical artists just find a successful way to communicate to their audiences.

On playing that I dislike, there's the boring playing which fails to bring life to the music. What I dislike more is playing that that seems purposefully eccentric just to stand out - Perhaps if you want to stick out as a performing artist you'd want to be eccentric, but if you want to be a good musician, then trying to be something you're not is something that doesn't make sense at all.
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Working on:
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#2032599 - 02/13/13 05:19 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
The only question to ask oneself when hearing winners (or losers) of music competitions is - would I go to a concert to hear this? Was I moved? Looking through the list of winners of the past Cliburn competitions, my answer regarding most of them would be...nah, I wouldn't bother.
To me this comes off as extremely critical to put it mildly. I have heard some of these pianists play live and to brush them off as if they are average professional performers seems incredible to me. None of the 70+ pianists who made the finals of these competitions is worth seeing? I have heard Lupu, Kobrin, Walsh, and Swann live and thought the first three were quite sensational and the fourth was very good.

I hope you're not as critical of the winners/finalists of competitions like the Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Leeds. These have included many of what are usually considered the most notable pianists of the last 50 years.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/13/13 05:23 PM)

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#2032602 - 02/13/13 05:40 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
I meant to say the RECENT past Cliburn competitions - my bad. Of course, there have been fine players in many competitions. I'll try to give a more detailed answer later. Many of my own favourite pianists never participated in piano competitions - of course, many of my personal favorites are from a completely different era, so...

Oh, and I've had the misfortune of experiencing Kobrin in a quite dreadful Schumann concerto some years ago. I was rather against some of his playing in the Cliburn competition (NOT a convincing Gaspard), and also much later on I've seen videos of his playing that I personally can't stand.


Edited by fnork (02/13/13 05:42 PM)

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#2032680 - 02/13/13 07:56 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Now that my focus in music is shifted more toward choral conducting than piano performance, I feel that opens me up more musically and I feel like I can truly express myself on the piano without having to jump through somebody else's hoops. In addition, the musicality that I pull from comes from pianism, piano technique, and things like that, but I've learned that 99% of piano music is a representation of something else, such as choral music, orchestral music, chamber music, songs, opera, etc...

However, focusing more on conducting means that my pianistic and technical abilities won't be the level they could be if I stuck with being piano-performance oriented.

Dang. frown

But only time will tell. I'm very excited to see how my life unfolds smile

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#2032683 - 02/13/13 07:59 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Oh, and regarding pianoloverus and his opinion on questioning the artistry to older great pianists;

I overall think the older pianists were the greatest recorded pianists, but don't want to take away from current competition winners. They are of course distinguished technically, and I don't think they are unmusical at all; their musicianship far exceeds mine and is quite fantastic. I just don't think it's on the same level as the older legends.

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#2032903 - 02/14/13 09:06 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
A highly relevant article in relation to this discussion:

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/07/06/arts/do-today-s-pianists-have-the-romantic-touch.html

Written in 1986!


Edited by fnork (02/14/13 09:07 AM)

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#2032946 - 02/14/13 10:46 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
A highly relevant article in relation to this discussion:

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/07/06/arts/do-today-s-pianists-have-the-romantic-touch.html

Written in 1986!
I think Schonberg was an example of someone who was so in love with pianism of the first half of the 20th century that he was almost blind to the talent around him during much of his lifetime. Notice that in his article he says that since the 1960's he has felt the pianists were lacking in comparison to his idols of an earlier era especially in the performance of Romantic music.

I bet even those posters in this thread who feel that the current crop of pianists is highly skilled technically but lacking musically can find plenty of pianists who began their careers in the 1960's or later who they think are among the very great pianists in the history of piano playing.

At the end of the article Schonberg also bemoans the lack of technique in present day pianists. Of course, he chooses just three or four giants from the early 20th century like Rachmaninov, Hofmann, and Godowsky as his example of the technical level of the past as if everyone of that age had an equivalent technique.

I think few today would dispute that the average technical level is much higher than it was fifty or eighty years ago or at any time in the history of piano playing. And I think one can find a few pianists in any era including the one when Schonberg was writing his articles or later who have a technique on the same level as the giants he mentioned. Argerich, Kissin, Volodos, Richter, Hamelin, Katsaris, Pollini, etc.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/14/13 03:32 PM)

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#2032963 - 02/14/13 11:06 AM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Kreisler]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1250
Loc:
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Does she say anything about the level of artistry in the newsletter? From the excerpt you quote, it seems that she's almost equating mastery with accuracy.


Exactly what i thoght

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#2033016 - 02/14/13 12:17 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: pianoloverus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Schonberg was an example of someone who was so in love with pianism of the first half of the 20th century that he was almost blind to the talent around him during much of his lifetime. Notice that in his article he says that since the 1960's he has felt the pianists were lacking in comparison to his idols of an earlier era especially in the performance of Romantic music.

Well, then you're pretty much bypassing his point. He said he WROTE about it in the 60's, and that by the time of him writing this article (1986), things had not changed. Here's what he wrote:

"Every age makes music its own way, and the 1960's was a period in which the printed note all but strangled the artist. So intent was everybody on textual fidelity, on strict rhythms, on the ideal of ''musicianship,'' that the concept of the artist was all but abandoned. It has remained abandoned. But this is all wrong, even historically wrong. Until recent times an interpreter was supposed to bring his own mind, heart, sensitivity and knowledge to the music, refracting the composer's message through his own personality. Composers historically were quite willing to go along when they had confidence in the artist. But in the 1960's -and, alas, today -the artist has abdicated his role. He is content to be a reproducer rather than a co-creator."


Twice he makes the point that what he pointed out in the 60's was also true when writing this article. Also, Schonbert was hardly the one and only individual that praised the pianism of the first half of the 20th century. Go ask György Sebök and you'll hear rather similar statements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdqYg5tMfc
Or read Kenneth Hamilton's "After the golden age". Just ordered the book "Off the record" by Neal Peres da Costa which deals with the same topic - http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/su...i=9780195386912
Or go ask Mark Ainley, the host of "The piano files" website - http://www.thepianofiles.com/


I wouldn't hesitate that there are a fair amount of people that value the performers praised by above-mentioned authors/performers over the ones you listed. In fact, out of those mentioned I only occasionally listen to Richter - Hamelin I also respect in certain ways but it has more to do with his discoveries of new repertoire than how he plays it.

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#2033039 - 02/14/13 12:57 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2668
DISCLAIMER: All the following are purely my SPECULATIVE thoughts and should be treated as such.

What has changed during the last 50 years:

THE ASIAN EFFECT:
50 years ago, the competitions were mostly dominated by the Soviet and East-West European competitors. Nowadays they are populated by ASIANS.
The Asian culture is very sensitive about EMBARRASSMENT. That is, playing wrong notes and failing in a competition because of this is simply embarrassing and not acceptable by the family/friends/community. Therefore more emphasize is being given to accuracy in these cultures. As a result "clean" playing has become more important.

THE INTERNET/DIGITAL ERA:
While certain playing techniques and styles were SECRETS only available to limited competitors 50 years ago, for the last two decades, with the exponentially spreading of knowledge this has changed dramatically.
Also, the DIGITAL PIANOS has made it possible for greater populations (especially in Asia) to learn to play the piano.

So, for ME, Kaplinsky's observation is not a surprise, but the natural result of the above factors.
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#2033046 - 02/14/13 01:18 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: Hakki]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1492
Clean playing is an objective way to differentiate one from the rest of the group. It becomes a new standard, those who cannot play cleanly will have problem winning a competition, unless his or her artistry ability can mitigate their unclean play.


Originally Posted By: Hakki
DISCLAIMER: All the following are purely my SPECULATIVE thoughts and should be treated as such.

What has changed during the last 50 years:

THE ASIAN EFFECT:
50 years ago, the competitions were mostly dominated by the Soviet and East-West European competitors. Nowadays they are populated by ASIANS.
The Asian culture is very sensitive about EMBARRASSMENT. That is, playing wrong notes and failing in a competition because of this is simply embarrassing and not acceptable by the family/friends/community. Therefore more emphasize is being given to accuracy in these cultures. As a result "clean" playing has become more important.

THE INTERNET/DIGITAL ERA:
While certain playing techniques and styles were SECRETS only available to limited competitors 50 years ago, for the last two decades, with the exponentially spreading of knowledge this has changed dramatically.
Also, the DIGITAL PIANOS has made it possible for greater populations (especially in Asia) to learn to play the piano.

So, for ME, Kaplinsky's observation is not a surprise, but the natural result of the above factors.

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#2033118 - 02/14/13 04:03 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I think Schonberg was an example of someone who was so in love with pianism of the first half of the 20th century that he was almost blind to the talent around him during much of his lifetime. Notice that in his article he says that since the 1960's he has felt the pianists were lacking in comparison to his idols of an earlier era especially in the performance of Romantic music.

Well, then you're pretty much bypassing his point. He said he WROTE about it in the 60's, and that by the time of him writing this article (1986), things had not changed. Here's what he wrote:

"Every age makes music its own way, and the 1960's was a period in which the printed note all but strangled the artist. So intent was everybody on textual fidelity, on strict rhythms, on the ideal of ''musicianship,'' that the concept of the artist was all but abandoned. It has remained abandoned. But this is all wrong, even historically wrong. Until recent times an interpreter was supposed to bring his own mind, heart, sensitivity and knowledge to the music, refracting the composer's message through his own personality. Composers historically were quite willing to go along when they had confidence in the artist. But in the 1960's -and, alas, today -the artist has abdicated his role. He is content to be a reproducer rather than a co-creator."


Twice he makes the point that what he pointed out in the 60's was also true when writing this article. Also, Schonbert was hardly the one and only individual that praised the pianism of the first half of the 20th century. Go ask György Sebök and you'll hear rather similar statements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdqYg5tMfc
Or read Kenneth Hamilton's "After the golden age". Just ordered the book "Off the record" by Neal Peres da Costa which deals with the same topic - http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/su...i=9780195386912
Or go ask Mark Ainley, the host of "The piano files" website - http://www.thepianofiles.com/


I wouldn't hesitate that there are a fair amount of people that value the performers praised by above-mentioned authors/performers over the ones you listed. In fact, out of those mentioned I only occasionally listen to Richter - Hamelin I also respect in certain ways but it has more to do with his discoveries of new repertoire than how he plays it.
I mentioned that Schonberg felt the way he did since the 1960's to show how long he felt this way about pianists from the first half of the 20th century vs. ones from the second half. To say that the last 50 years(1960's-present)have not produced many very great pianists is an extreme view I think. I think it would have far more reasonable for Schonberg to simply state his personal preference for the playing style of the earlier pianists rather than claim they were inherently superior.

The specific pianists I mentioned were in the paragraph about the technical level of pianists in the last 50 years. I gave them to show that the technical skill since the 1960's is also, I think, not accurately described by Schonberg. The list I gave was not a list of the pianists I think are the greatest from the last 50 years although I do like most of the pianists I listed.

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#2033715 - 02/15/13 12:47 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2668
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
Clean playing is an objective way to differentiate one from the rest of the group. It becomes a new standard, those who cannot play cleanly will have problem winning a competition, unless his or her artistry ability can mitigate their unclean play.



Yes, but the discussion is that, Kaplisnky has noted that the number of pianists who play cleanly compared to 50 years ago has increased enormously. And I tried to explain why such a thing has happened in my own way.
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#2033739 - 02/15/13 01:19 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: pianoloverus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1797
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I mentioned that Schonberg felt the way he did since the 1960's to show how long he felt this way about pianists from the first half of the 20th century vs. ones from the second half. To say that the last 50 years(1960's-present)have not produced many very great pianists is an extreme view I think. I think it would have far more reasonable for Schonberg to simply state his personal preference for the playing style of the earlier pianists rather than claim they were inherently superior.

Schonberg does talk about different qualities of pianists of his time and he does praise some of the very names you mention (Argerich) for technique and temperament. Since you do not trust this particular Schonberg too much, why not listen to another fellow with the same name? Here's a nice quote:

“Today’s manner of performing classical music of the so-called ‘romantic’ type, suppressing all
emotional qualities and all unnotated changes of tempo and expression, derives from the style of playing
primitive dance music. This style came to Europe by way of America, where no old culture regulated
presentation, but where a certain frigidity of feeling reduced all musical expression. Thus almost
everywhere in Europe music is played in a stiff, inflexible metre - not in a tempo, i.e. according to a
yardstick of freely measured quantities. Astonishingly enough, almost all European conductors and
instrumentalists bowed to this dictate without resistance. All were suddenly afraid to be called romantic,
ashamed of being called sentimental...Why is music written at all? Is it not a romantic feeling which
makes you listen to it? Why do you play the piano when you could show the same skill on a typewriter?
(...) It must be admitted that in the period around 1900 many artists overdid themselves in exhibiting the
power of the emotion they were capable of feeling. (...) Nothing can be more wrong than both of these
extremes."


Who is talking? Arnold Schoenberg, in 1948, about the general shifts in performance traditions.

Somewhere in this interview, William Kapell shares his thoughts on the topic, mentioning how there was a reaction against the perhaps overly "subjective" and free aproach in the early 20th century which was replaced by more "objective" playing. The interviewer here is of the opinion that William Kapell's playing combined both.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKzYpgS7gh8


Besides, you have to realize that Harold C. Schonberg wrote this article reflecting upon "young talent" he's been hearing taking part in some of the worlds biggest piano competitions. He's pointing out a very GENERAL trend among young players (and slightly older and more experienced ones) of the time as opposed to general trends of the past. The point he is clearly making is also that many of these past masters that he respects had very clear links to the composers of the romantic era, which clearly gives them a certain credibility. If Liszt taught someone, hailed this person as a genious at the piano, and this person recorded and wrote about Liszt's teachings - ought we not to read and listen?


Edited by fnork (02/15/13 01:27 PM)

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#2033772 - 02/15/13 02:40 PM Re: Interesting comment from Yoheved Kaplinsky [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I mentioned that Schonberg felt the way he did since the 1960's to show how long he felt this way about pianists from the first half of the 20th century vs. ones from the second half. To say that the last 50 years(1960's-present)have not produced many very great pianists is an extreme view I think. I think it would have far more reasonable for Schonberg to simply state his personal preference for the playing style of the earlier pianists rather than claim they were inherently superior.

Schonberg does talk about different qualities of pianists of his time and he does praise some of the very names you mention (Argerich) for technique and temperament. Since you do not trust this particular Schonberg too much, why not listen to another fellow with the same name? Here's a nice quote:

“Today’s manner of performing classical music of the so-called ‘romantic’ type, suppressing all emotional qualities and all unnotated changes of tempo and expression, derives from the style of playing primitive dance music. This style came to Europe by way of America, where no old culture regulated presentation, but where a certain frigidity of feeling reduced all musical expression. Thus almost
everywhere in Europe music is played in a stiff, inflexible metre - not in a tempo, i.e. according to a yardstick of freely measured quantities. Astonishingly enough, almost all European conductors and instrumentalists bowed to this dictate without resistance. All were suddenly afraid to be called romantic, ashamed of being called sentimental...Why is music written at all? Is it not a romantic feeling which
makes you listen to it? Why do you play the piano when you could show the same skill on a typewriter? (...) It must be admitted that in the period around 1900 many artists overdid themselves in exhibiting the power of the emotion they were capable of feeling. (...) Nothing can be more wrong than both of these extremes."
Who is talking? Arnold Schoenberg, in 1948, about the general shifts in performance traditions.

Somewhere in this interview, William Kapell shares his thoughts on the topic, mentioning how there was a reaction against the perhaps overly "subjective" and free approach in the early 20th century which was replaced by more "objective" playing. The interviewer here is of the opinion that William Kapell's playing combined both.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKzYpgS7gh8


Besides, you have to realize that Harold C. Schonberg wrote this article reflecting upon "young talent" he's been hearing taking part in some of the worlds biggest piano competitions. He's pointing out a very GENERAL trend among young players (and slightly older and more experienced ones) of the time as opposed to general trends of the past. The point he is clearly making is also that many of these past masters that he respects had very clear links to the composers of the romantic era, which clearly gives them a certain credibility. If Liszt taught someone, hailed this person as a genious at the piano, and this person recorded and wrote about Liszt's teachings - ought we not to read and listen?
I'm sure other people, famous and not famous, agree with Harold Schonberg's view that the style of playing from the earlier part of the 20th century was superior.

Obviously, many disagree with him(you mention Kapell and, of course, it would also be the majority of pianists of the last 50 years)or the trends he observed would not have occurred and remain today. As far as Kapell's style of playing goes my strong impression from listening to his recordings is that Kapell's style is far more in the style typical of today. Dubal, in his The Art of the Piano, says of Kapell: "His early recordings are cherished as the finest example of the modern unmannered style of piano playing..."

I'd also say that, some pianists from the earlier part of the 20th century played quite closely to the style typical of today's performers, i.e. without the extreme rubato, arpeggiating of chords, and asynchronization of hands typical of some of the pianists in the earlier part of the 20th century. I'm thinking particularly of Rachmaninov and (probably)Artur Rubinstein. Although I may not have heard Rubinstein's earliest recordings(I don't know of I have because I rarely think about when a particular recording was made), based on all the recordings of him I have heard I think he mostly played in the style typical of the second half of the 20th century. I'd even say that someone like Cherkassky, who I heard live many times, played mostly in a more modern style with just some hint of the older style. But nothing like the rubato, arpeggiating, and asynchronization one can hear in De Pachmann, Paderewski, and some other pianists of the early 20th century.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/15/13 03:12 PM)

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