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#2066468 - 04/18/13 10:22 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19590
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
Now that you're comparing Cortot to other pianists of the time, I'd be interested to know what other pianists recordings of the complete Chopin etudes done by the 1930's you might be referring to. There are hardly any, first of all. If you are talking about pianists that recorded one or two of the etudes then you're really comparing apples and oranges. Perhaps you had Koczalski's recordings in mind? As a pupil of Mikuli, it's surely interesting to hear how he played Chopin, but it's hardly 100% accurate playing if that's what you're asking for...
I wasn't specifically talking about or thinking of just Cortot's Chopin Etudes when I mentioned Cortot's accuracy compared to other pianists. I was talking about his recordings in general. For example, the Chopin Waltz that I started the thread with. If one wants to find a more accurate recording of the complete Etudes from a similar time period I guess the Backhaus recording would be the famous one.

In terms general accuracy in playing I was thinking of other pianistic giants like Hoffman, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Moiseiwitsch, Lhevinne, etc. where the discussion of how accurate they were rarely comes up although they recorded around the same time. In fact, many of these are still considered in a technical super class compared to all the great virtuosos that followed them. So there pianists from the same time who, forever what reason, recorded with greater accuracy.


Originally Posted By: fnork
It's also worth adding that most recordings by Cortot was when he was already practicing significantly less and was past his prime due to other duties in his daily life. Anyone doubting Cortot's virtuosity better listen to his early 1919 recordings of Saint-Saens Etude en forme de valse and Liszt's La leggierezza:
I never said Cortot had bad technique. I've read plenty of comments attesting to the fact that he had great technique when he wanted to or when he had enough time to practice. All his exercises for solving technical problems given in his editions indicate he also had a great understanding of how to solve and work on technical problems. But the above doesn't change the fact that he was willing to let recordings that were technically lacking be released.

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#2066475 - 04/18/13 10:46 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: Mark_C]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Thanks for mentioning him and posting the recordings. Didn't know of him before at all, and indeed his playing is interesting and excellent. But.... grin no fault of Koczalski's, his Wiki article happens to have the very most nonfactual assertion I've ever seen in a Wiki article, which is saying quite a bit:

"His Chopin recordings reveal him as the most compelling, authentic Chopin interpreter of all time...."

I don't mean anything against him. I'd laugh just the same if this were said about anyone else too -- except perhaps Frederic himself. smile

I gotta guess that the reason such a statement stands is that hardly anyone knows of him or comes across his name, and so few people ever go to that page.

First of all, do check out more Koczalski! He recorded the complete etudes, several mazurkas, ballades, nocturnes, scherzi etc etc and you'd be surprised to see MANY experts commenting on that his playing is indeed a valuable resource into Chopin's style of playing. Check Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger's book "Chopin: Pianist and teacher as seen by his pupils". Mikuli realized Koczalski's potential very early on, they had periods of daily lessons lasting 2 hours, he inherited very early on Chopin's ideals and aesthetics as passed on by Mikuli. That not many people have come across his playing is a great pity but that shouldn't be an argument against hearing him. Check out more stuff on youtube, and here are some nice liner notes:

http://www.marstonrecords.com/koczalski/koczalski_liner.htm

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#2066492 - 04/18/13 11:13 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I wasn't specifically talking about or thinking of just Cortot's Chopin Etudes when I mentioned Cortot's accuracy compared to other pianists. I was talking about his recordings in general. For example, the Chopin Waltz that I started the thread with. If one wants to find a more accurate recording of the complete Etudes from a similar time period I guess the Backhaus recording would be the famous one.

I know you weren't specifically referring to Chopin etudes, but since they were mentioned, I wanted to point out that there's hardly any recorded complete set during that time to compare with - you could only come up with one off the top of your head.


Quote:
In terms general accuracy in playing I was thinking of other pianistic giants like Hoffman, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Moiseiwitsch, Lhevinne, etc. where the discussion of how accurate they were rarely comes up although they recorded around the same time. In fact, many of these are still considered in a technical super class compared to all the great virtuosos that followed them. So there pianists from the same time who, forever what reason, recorded with greater accuracy.

Horowitz had a concerto repertoire that wouldn't impress any concert manager today - after the 1920-30's he had a total of 5 concerti or so that he repeated over and over again. As I pointed out already, Horowitz was astounded by Cortot's virtuosity and hoped for advice from him. Then, Rachmaninoff had a very small portion of solo repertoire that he'd perform again and again in recitals, keeping it up to perfection. As valuable as Sergei's recordings are, it's clear that he and Cortot had rather ideals regarding quantity versus quality in terms of perfection - I for one am happy we have both of their recordings available for all of the differences they have. And now that you mentioned a teacher and his student - Lhevinne and Moisewitsch -, Lhevinne's recorded output is again very small to make any kind of meaningful comparison. Moisewitsch on the other hand, I'm surprised he's mentioned in this context - he's hardly known for note-perfect playing, and there's a fair amount of recordings that show that clearly.

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#2066499 - 04/18/13 11:25 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
Numerian Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 1075
You don't like sloppiness in recordings? You can't stand wrong notes? You hate over-indulgent tempi? Then don't listen to this recording:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2f_CJ4gOMY&playnext=1&list=PLA45BEF694149A4E7

That was Francis Plante performing several Chopin etudes just before his death in 1934 at age 95. Now you might say an old man like that, about half a century past his prime, had no business recording at all. But the recording industry was relatively new, and someone at Edison or Columbia might well have thought to themselves - "let's get the old man on record before he dies." Thank God they did, because Francis Plante, besides being an eminent Chopin performer in the 19th century, is the only recording artist who actually heard Frederic Chopin in recital before his death in 1849.

Let's give poor old Alfred Cortot a break. He is out of place and out of time, recording as he did when errors weren't edited out (though you could do complete retakes), and afflicted as he was with all those dreadful 19th century performance mannerisms that Louis Podesta talks about. Except....it's precisely those mannerisms that give his performances such distinction, especially in comparison to the hundreds of recordings of today which sound pretty much all alike. Something about Cortot excited audiences in his day, and we can all benefit from setting aside our 21st century expectations and pretend, for just a minute, that we ourselves are back in the 1930s, when artistic excellence was defined quite differently from today.

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#2066520 - 04/18/13 11:56 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: fnork]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19590
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I wasn't specifically talking about or thinking of just Cortot's Chopin Etudes when I mentioned Cortot's accuracy compared to other pianists. I was talking about his recordings in general. For example, the Chopin Waltz that I started the thread with. If one wants to find a more accurate recording of the complete Etudes from a similar time period I guess the Backhaus recording would be the famous one.

I know you weren't specifically referring to Chopin etudes, but since they were mentioned, I wanted to point out that there's hardly any recorded complete set during that time to compare with - you could only come up with one off the top of your head.


Quote:
In terms general accuracy in playing I was thinking of other pianistic giants like Hoffman, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Moiseiwitsch, Lhevinne, etc. where the discussion of how accurate they were rarely comes up although they recorded around the same time. In fact, many of these are still considered in a technical super class compared to all the great virtuosos that followed them. So there pianists from the same time who, forever what reason, recorded with greater accuracy.

Horowitz had a concerto repertoire that wouldn't impress any concert manager today - after the 1920-30's he had a total of 5 concerti or so that he repeated over and over again. As I pointed out already, Horowitz was astounded by Cortot's virtuosity and hoped for advice from him. Then, Rachmaninoff had a very small portion of solo repertoire that he'd perform again and again in recitals, keeping it up to perfection. As valuable as Sergei's recordings are, it's clear that he and Cortot had rather ideals regarding quantity versus quality in terms of perfection - I for one am happy we have both of their recordings available for all of the differences they have. And now that you mentioned a teacher and his student - Lhevinne and Moisewitsch -, Lhevinne's recorded output is again very small to make any kind of meaningful comparison. Moisewitsch on the other hand, I'm surprised he's mentioned in this context - he's hardly known for note-perfect playing, and there's a fair amount of recordings that show that clearly.
You are again giving reasons or making excuses for Cortot's lack of accuracy. They may be reasonable justifications, but this has little to do with what I've been talking about.

Horowitz had a small concerto repertoire but a reasonably large solo repertoire. Although Horowitz was capable of inaccurate playing it certainly wasn't on the level of Cortot. You keep saying Cortot had great technique but I never said otherwise. I only said that for whatever reasons his recording sometimes/often are lacking in accuracy. In fact, he is one of the few major pianists where accuracy is often part of the discussion.

My comments were about Cortot's accuracy on recordings vs. all the other pianists I mentioned, and Cortot falls far short of them for whatever reason(lack of practice, other musical commitments, choice to do a small number of takes, recording a large amount of repertoire in a very short period, less concern about wrong notes, etc.) None of these reasons change the fact that his recordings were more inaccurate or that he chose to have these recordings released.


Edited by pianoloverus (04/18/13 12:57 PM)

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#2066542 - 04/18/13 01:02 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: fnork]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: fnork
First of all, do check out more Koczalski!....

No no! You missed what I meant. As I said, I didn't mean anything against him at all and I would have said the same no matter who it was about. The thing is that such a statement could never be valid in the way it was said, and that it's kind of funny that anyone would have tried to assert such a thing.

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#2066547 - 04/18/13 01:12 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: Mark_C]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: fnork
First of all, do check out more Koczalski!....

No no! You missed what I meant. As I said, I didn't mean anything against him at all and I would have said the same no matter who it was about. The thing is that such a statement could never be valid in the way it was said, and that it's kind of funny that anyone would have tried to assert such a thing.

Yes, agreed, the statement was *slightly* exaggerated as such - just wanted to point out that there's that lineage from Koczalski to Chopin through Mikuli, and it's also very clear reading more about Koczalski that Mikuli took special care of him and his development. By comparison, Rosenthal is also a fabulous Mikuli disciple, but it must be said that he also studied with numerous other teachers and learned other aspects of piano playing (he also had some reservations on his years with Mikuli as a young boy). We can perhaps assume, then, that we find a more genuine approach to Chopin in Koczalski's playing, while Rosenthal was just as much under influence of Liszt, Rubinstein and others he met and played for.

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#2066549 - 04/18/13 01:21 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Good evening. Another little-known pianist of Cortot's generation, more or less forgotten today, nonetheless an important figure. And a great interpreter of Chopin.



Edited by landorrano (04/18/13 01:22 PM)

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#2066552 - 04/18/13 01:26 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
You are again giving reasons or making excuses for Cortot's lack of accuracy. They may be reasonable justifications, but this has little to do with what I've been talking about.

well, perhaps the crux of the issue is that I, like another Cortot fan said, would rather listen to Cortot's wrong notes than a lot of pianists right ones. If you can't get beyond the fact that your average heavily edited studio recordings - of pianists of either today or the past - have more correct notes than many of Cortot's recordings, fine. But I'm interested in music and musical flow in the first place and I think that the clinkers that come with some of Cortot's recordings are not only "excusable" and "fine" but come naturally as a result of someone never allowing a musical phrase to be without meaning, as opposed to someone being pre-occupied with never allowing a musical passage to have wrong notes. Today, sadly, there are way too many musicians I would put in the latter category. To quote Stephen Hough:

"Cortot is sometimes referred to as the pianist who played lots of wrong notes. This is unfair, not just because he had a dazzling finger technique, but because he never allowed a striving for accuracy to distract him from the bigger picture. You can sometimes hear his mistakes, even in the first notes of pieces, but I find these fallible moments endearing: the pianist consumed by spiritual inspiration, oblivious of the physical risks involved."


Numerian, amen to your post and everything you said.


Edited by fnork (04/18/13 01:28 PM)

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#2066592 - 04/18/13 03:00 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
I thought I might contribute this to the discussion: It's a video of Cortot giving a masterclass in French about Kinderszenen. I find it really interesting to see how he approaches the piece interpretively.

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

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#2066704 - 04/18/13 06:44 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
.....and for a few seconds at 0:47 you can see my friend and sometime teacher (whenever possible!) Eric Heidsieck smile -- many years before I knew him.
(He's the one on the right.)

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#2066732 - 04/18/13 07:48 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: Mark_C]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
.....and for a few seconds at 0:47 you can see my friend and sometime teacher (whenever possible!) Eric Heidsieck smile -- many years before I knew him.
(He's the one on the right.)


Mark_C, you just know everyone, don't you!? Wasn't it you who recommended the piano suite about birds your piano teacher had written? :-)

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#2066759 - 04/18/13 09:07 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin

Mark_C, you just know everyone, don't you!?

Yes, I've been there for just about everything. ha
Call me the site's Forrest Gump. grin

Quote:
Wasn't it you who recommended the piano suite about birds your piano teacher had written? :-)

I've been waiting for people to start saying I must be lying about who all I've studied with. ha
I've been blessed to be 'in the right place at the right time' to be able to study with teachers way better than I had any right to study with.

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#2067051 - 04/19/13 10:59 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
"Cortot's mastery was exhaustive. He had a deep, instantly-recognizable aromatic sonority, a refined pedal technique that afforded him a vibrant palette of tonal colours and effects, the capacity to phrase with exquisite lightness and profound depth, and an inner sense of rhythm that never wavered even when he applied his unique, inimitable rubato, all of which fused with his innovative spirit to create a truly individual style that continues to fascinate listeners today."

From an excellent article about the evolution of Alfred Cortot's pianism as evidenced through four decades of recording; written by Mark Ainley, in the new issue of International Piano magazine out today.
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#2067062 - 04/19/13 11:16 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Thanks for quoting that article, didn't want to do it explicitly until it was actually published wink

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#2067093 - 04/19/13 11:59 AM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: Thracozaag]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19590
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Thracozaag
"Cortot's mastery was exhaustive. He had a deep, instantly-recognizable aromatic sonority, a refined pedal technique that afforded him a vibrant palette of tonal colours and effects, the capacity to phrase with exquisite lightness and profound depth, and an inner sense of rhythm that never wavered even when he applied his unique, inimitable rubato, all of which fused with his innovative spirit to create a truly individual style that continues to fascinate listeners today."

From an excellent article about the evolution of Alfred Cortot's pianism as evidenced through four decades of recording; written by Mark Ainley, in the new issue of International Piano magazine out today.
Since you are I assume a big Cortot fan, I'm curious about your reaction to the Chopin Waltz performance I began the thread with.

Terrific as is, a bad performance but not typical of Cortot, not so good but an insignificant blight on generally terrific Cortot performances, just an example of the style of playing and unconcern about wrong notes typical of that time, all the great things make the wrong notes or strange interpretation insignificant, or...?

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#2067095 - 04/19/13 12:05 PM Re: Cortot's pianism [Re: pianoloverus]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
I actually adore that performance; but I readily acknowledge what constitutes "great" piano playing in my aesthetic is not "great" for others.
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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