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#2072463 - 04/27/13 10:17 PM Boulez: piano works
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
I've been enjoying listening to his 12 Notations lately (recordings by David Fray and Ingrid Karlen), but I find myself gravitating back to the Second Sonata. Would it be wildly inappropriate to play the first movement to fill one's 20th century college audition requirement? I find it absolutely galvanizing, almost bullet-like in momentum and power. Perhaps not enough variety? It wouldn't be possible for me to learn the whole thing, and thus far the First Sonata has not captured me in the same way, but I will keep listening...

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#2072511 - 04/27/13 11:28 PM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
It's usually not too good to answer something without knowing anything, but in this case I think we can make an exception. grin

Without particularly knowing the piece, I'm pretty confident to say that with repertoire like that, it would be GREAT, as long as you feel you can do it well.

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#2072514 - 04/27/13 11:31 PM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: Mark_C]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7707
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
It's usually not too good to answer something without knowing anything, but in this case I think we can make an exception. grin

Without particularly knowing the piece, I'm pretty confident to say that with repertoire like that, it would be GREAT, as long as you feel you can do it well.

I can second that; another opinion with no basis in any knowledge of the material whatsoever, or interest in gaining knowledge of said material. grin
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2072517 - 04/27/13 11:34 PM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: Polyphonist]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
....or interest in gaining knowledge of said material. grin

ha

I, on the other hand, would be interested to hear Alden playing it.

(BTW Alden, I still owe you a post about the Mozart concerto, and you'll get it, unless you say you don't want to hear about that any more.....) grin

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#2072539 - 04/28/13 12:25 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: Mark_C]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
It's usually not too good to answer something without knowing anything, but in this case I think we can make an exception. grin

Without particularly knowing the piece, I'm pretty confident to say that with repertoire like that, it would be GREAT, as long as you feel you can do it well.

I can second that; another opinion with no basis in any knowledge of the material whatsoever, or interest in gaining knowledge of said material. grin


Oh, you guys! laugh

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
....or interest in gaining knowledge of said material. grin

ha

I, on the other hand, would be interested to hear Alden playing it.

(BTW Alden, I still owe you a post about the Mozart concerto, and you'll get it, unless you say you don't want to hear about that any more.....) grin


I'm flattered that you have such faith in me! It would be a heck of a lot of work, and it would certainly stretch my musical abilities - rhythmic precision, maintaining architecture, essentially learning a new musical language. Not impossible, and certainly audacious, but perhaps it wouldn't be any more of a reach for me than Scarbo might be for a young pianist of different temperament and abilities. It certainly would be quite a hipsterish choice (snobbery included?).

(Thanks for remembering about the Mozart! I'm probably going to bring it back soon, and your comments will be much appreciated, as they always are! I've been ruing the fact that you don't accept PMs, but I see now that you just needed a subtle hint of a reminder smile )

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#2072546 - 04/28/13 12:31 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7707
Loc: New York City
He doesn't accept PMs? Oh well-I was just going to message him and tell him the meaning of life, but I guess not now. ha
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2072547 - 04/28/13 12:31 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7707
Loc: New York City
(Note: that [the meaning of life] would be music. ha)

Edit: No pun intended. grin
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2072552 - 04/28/13 12:36 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
I happen to know at least two pianists that worked on either some or all sonatas with the composer. It's not awfully appealing music to my mind, so I haven't followed up on all of the details, but I did hear that Boulez wasn't too fond of "cautious" tempi but rather preferred a version where the performer at least TRIED to play the fast stuff in the tempos it is notated, though notes would be missed. It seems he might have been more concerned with accurate tempo than 100% accurate notes. It sort of makes sense - I remember another friend playing the 1st sonata and he was forced to take the very demanding 2nd movement quite a bit slower, and it really came out as a very different piece of music. Not in a good way, I'm afraid.

Good luck! I wouldn't ever bother learning these pieces, but if you enjoy it, good for you laugh

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#2072557 - 04/28/13 12:41 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: fnork]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: fnork
....I did hear that Boulez wasn't too fond of "cautious" tempi but rather preferred a version where the performer at least TRIED to play the fast stuff in the tempos it is notated, though notes would be missed. It seems he might have been more concerned with accurate tempo than 100% accurate notes.....

I'd bet a few nickels that EVERY prominent composer felt that way, especially if we broaden the "accurate tempo" thing to "conveying the musical message" which I'd guess is more what Boulez meant.

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#2072567 - 04/28/13 12:54 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
Have you looked at some of his other works? Incises is quite exciting, though I prefer the 1994 version over the rewritten one. Though after hearing what he did with Sur Incises, you wish he spent more time developing the material on the first page.

Though if you're keen on doing the second sonata, definitely give it a try. I have yet to fully understand the work, but it seems the more you listen and study the score, the more you realize that it's genius...
_________________________
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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#2072607 - 04/28/13 03:06 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [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
....I did hear that Boulez wasn't too fond of "cautious" tempi but rather preferred a version where the performer at least TRIED to play the fast stuff in the tempos it is notated, though notes would be missed. It seems he might have been more concerned with accurate tempo than 100% accurate notes.....

I'd bet a few nickels that EVERY prominent composer felt that way, especially if we broaden the "accurate tempo" thing to "conveying the musical message" which I'd guess is more what Boulez meant.

It's true in general, but I found it worth pointing out regarding Boulez, who after all seems to be so very meticulous with details etc, both as a conductor and as a composer.

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#2072610 - 04/28/13 03:12 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: fnork]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19840
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: fnork
It's true in general, but I found it worth pointing out regarding Boulez....

Of course it was worth pointing out! thumb
It is of great value to know actual examples.

BTW even I wouldn't go as far as you just did in saying flat-out that it's true in general!
I mean, I'd bet on it, but I wouldn't feel I could assert it. But I'm not complaining that you did. smile

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#2072713 - 04/28/13 09:40 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 763
Loc: South Carolina
I remember (back when I was an undergrad) my teacher and I listening to Pollini's recording of the 2nd Sonata during the year that it came out, and he turned to me and said: "Y'know, I'd like to think that in about 25, 30 years every serious piano student will be playing this."

Yes, do it.

(I was too chicken......)
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#2072750 - 04/28/13 11:04 AM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2384
Loc: San Jose, CA
I had a good friend who worked for a long time on the Second Sonata before giving up, and I consider him the best musician I've ever known. If you love the piece, and have the chops to play it, then do it. Don't worry about what the judges will think. If you do it well, they will have to take notice.

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#2073218 - 04/28/13 11:35 PM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: fnork]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: fnork
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: fnork
....I did hear that Boulez wasn't too fond of "cautious" tempi but rather preferred a version where the performer at least TRIED to play the fast stuff in the tempos it is notated, though notes would be missed. It seems he might have been more concerned with accurate tempo than 100% accurate notes.....

I'd bet a few nickels that EVERY prominent composer felt that way, especially if we broaden the "accurate tempo" thing to "conveying the musical message" which I'd guess is more what Boulez meant.

It's true in general, but I found it worth pointing out regarding Boulez, who after all seems to be so very meticulous with details etc, both as a conductor and as a composer.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and anecdotes pertaining his performance aesthetics, fnork - it is indeed the sheer wildness and magic of this music that captures me, and even some very famous recordings of the sonatas don't capture it fully. Sorry, Pollini - you've been one-upped by a youngster to my ears! I find Christopher Taylor's recorded performance of the Second Sonata at the 1993 Cliburn absolutely breathtaking, and it's difficult for me to listen to other interpretations now. To avoid the copying of a model, I'll do my best, but it is a real challenge!

Originally Posted By: Gerard12
I remember (back when I was an undergrad) my teacher and I listening to Pollini's recording of the 2nd Sonata during the year that it came out, and he turned to me and said: "Y'know, I'd like to think that in about 25, 30 years every serious piano student will be playing this."

Yes, do it.

(I was too chicken......)


I wish more people were less chicken, then! It looks daunting, but I have a feeling it might be immensely satisfying!

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Have you looked at some of his other works? Incises is quite exciting, though I prefer the 1994 version over the rewritten one. Though after hearing what he did with Sur Incises, you wish he spent more time developing the material on the first page.

Though if you're keen on doing the second sonata, definitely give it a try. I have yet to fully understand the work, but it seems the more you listen and study the score, the more you realize that it's genius...


I just listened to a couple of recordings of the 1994 version - truly thrilling! It feels almost like an ├ętude. I didn't see any 2001 versions available for sampling; how does it differ?

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
I had a good friend who worked for a long time on the Second Sonata before giving up, and I consider him the best musician I've ever known. If you love the piece, and have the chops to play it, then do it. Don't worry about what the judges will think. If you do it well, they will have to take notice.


Thank you for your thoughts, Jeff. They seem to me equally ominous and tempting (much like the piece itself).

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#2073221 - 04/28/13 11:43 PM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: AldenH

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Have you looked at some of his other works? Incises is quite exciting, though I prefer the 1994 version over the rewritten one. Though after hearing what he did with Sur Incises, you wish he spent more time developing the material on the first page.

Though if you're keen on doing the second sonata, definitely give it a try. I have yet to fully understand the work, but it seems the more you listen and study the score, the more you realize that it's genius...


I just listened to a couple of recordings of the 1994 version - truly thrilling! It feels almost like an ├ętude. I didn't see any 2001 versions available for sampling; how does it differ?

You can take a listen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i4LQbt1W28

He adds a "spacious" section where you have ringing chords, which sort of evokes what he did with Sur Incises. Speaking of which, have you listened to it? It's fantastic!

There's a documentary here he walks an un-musical audience through the piece and it's gestures. It's a fascinating show of how he puts together his works...completely gestural and colourful. Check it out!
_________________________
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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#2073225 - 04/28/13 11:46 PM Re: Boulez: piano works [Re: AldenH]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I enjoy listening to Boulez's music! I took music history from late 1800's-present and we talked some about him. Gave me a new appreciation for music of that era, particularly the Darmstadt school. Thanks for pointing out some works I'm not too familiar with yet!

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