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#2078398 - 05/06/13 03:29 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2139
Loc: Canada
Whatever you do, don't ignore what the French composers wrote down (aka, Boulez, Ravel, Debussy, Messiaen)...haha. Learning how to read the score is always a new challenge and is never the same on a composer-to-composer basis. There are many shades of grey, and it's important to approach music with a flexible mindset.
_________________________
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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#2078405 - 05/06/13 03:42 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 219
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Whatever you do, don't ignore what the French composers wrote down (aka, Boulez, Ravel, Debussy, Messiaen)...haha. Learning how to read the score is always a new challenge and is never the same on a composer-to-composer basis. There are many shades of grey, and it's important to approach music with a flexible mindset.

Years ago now, I overheard a conversation between a rising star in avant-garde piano performance and one of the established masters. I won't name the latter, let's just call him Fred.

The young woman asked Fred how he played one bit of the piece she was working on, which used graphical notation rather than standard music notation. He glanced at it and said "I just look at it and improvise. The composers always seem to like it."

The message I took home was that there's no point writing scores that are detailed beyond human ability to reproduce. Furthermore, there's a current of self-delusion circulating in academic music where composers sweat over super-detailed scores even though they can't tell when the performer just takes them as a suggestion.

Andy

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#2078407 - 05/06/13 03:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5009
Messiaen is an interesting case, because he gave his approval to recordings and performances by many pianists (not just his wife) and conductors. I've heard at least four versions of his Turangalîla Symphony on CD, which proudly boasts that he was at the recording sessions (and almost implied that the conductor and pianist worked closely with him on the work), and that the performance was 'definitive'.

Yet none of them followed every marking in his score.....

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#2078408 - 05/06/13 03:46 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
TheFool Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 155
Any excuse for some Denk...

http://jeremydenk.net/blog/2008/03/07/yet-another-ill-advised-egregious-post/

It's really a wonderful rant.
_________________________
"Nine? Too late."

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#2078418 - 05/06/13 04:07 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 129
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page. It never restricts you. You don't have to be a purist, snob, elitist, or "score-worshiper" to do what's on the page. You just do it. If you're a good musician, there are still COUNTLESS interpretive choices to be made.
Amen.

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#2078420 - 05/06/13 04:09 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21420
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Ian_G

Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky would probably be the most diva-like....


There are very few pianists today who would play a Mozart concerto exactly as written in the score....... wink


There are few Mozart concerto sources which are more than a vague reference to Mozart's intentions, particularly for the solo part. The manuscripts are often incomplete, and most of them were not published under his supervision.
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#2078428 - 05/06/13 04:17 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
Louis Podesta Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 703
Didn't any of you read my post from yesterday? The simple fact is that a performer is supposed to be making music.

I have spent the last 13 years re-discovering what that is. It absolutely is not meticulously following some score.

The early comment about the Golliwogg's cakewalk which is on the Debussy piano roll is a typical example of what most piano teachers don't know about making music.

As anyone who has ever composed a piece of music knows, what is put down on the page in terms of notes is only a rough approximation of the sound that the composer hears in their minds ear.

Debussy was an impressionist. He was not a realist.

Therefore, what he was trying to do was to create in the listener's ear the "impression" of what it was like for him to see these black circus clowns perform at the Parisien circus.

So, in case you missed it the the first time, I list part of my post from yesterday wherein I quote Earl Wild, who for 80 years played and taught people how to make "music."

From page 448 of Earl Wild's Memoir:

"Since World War II, performers have, with few exceptions, been dominated by musicologists who have frightened everyone into uniformity. We no longer have the large varitey of unique personalities in the piano field.....

When I performed at the University of Maryland Piano Festival, I began my program with the Haydn Piano Sonata in D Major No.50. I was reviewed by a Washington, D.C. critic who criticized me severely because I broke some chords (I rolled some chords at the end of the last movement). It was a very common practice in Haydn's day to do this. Reading this criticism reminded me that there is such misinformtion about music today. We are subjected daily to the "urtext mob" (as Jorge Bolet often referred to them), who have put music into a straitjacket because they believe the printed page is sacred."

Finally, for your listening pleasure, Earl Wild's recording of the A Flat Major Ballade, in case any of you want hear how it is done with rolled and block chords. Please move the cursor to the 16.00 minute mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-59bSNgQAY

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#2078445 - 05/06/13 04:41 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3501
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
And the blunt truth is that we do NOT know the reasons behind anything, let alone the intentions of a composer!


This seems the only to the point answer so far.

Maybe we can know our own reasons, but apart from that I tend to agree with this.

So, the answer is NO


So what? Isn't that what's so fun to do? Experiment with different sounds, question things, wonder...

The most frequent question that dances in my head is usually "what did he WANT here?" And yes - I'm sure 98% of the time I'm wrong, but trying is better than not because at least this way I achieve or discover something.


So What??? This is what the OP asks!

I did not say what to do if the answer is no as he did not ask that :-D
_________________________

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#2078460 - 05/06/13 05:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Can we ever truly realize the composer's intent?

No, of course not, and neither can the composer. If they think they can perform the work such that the listener truly hears the composer's intent, they need to take a course in psychology.

The ultimate arbiter of the music performance is the listener. No matter how one interprets the score, whether by slavishly adhering to all the markings, including editorial additions and note changes, intentional or unintentional, or by ignoring the score and playing according to their own way of expressing what they experience, having worked on the piece, it will be judged by the listener, no one else.

If a large number of listeners, at a given time, agree on the interpretation as having value, then that is all that the composer and performer can expect. Those values change over time, and change according to the listener group sampled. I prefer eccentric interpretations of music I know well, since it is a fresh approach, but I perform the same work with, sadly I might add, very careful attention to the score.

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#2078483 - 05/06/13 06:10 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.
_________________________
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#2078485 - 05/06/13 06:18 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wower]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3754
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page...
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score...

I tend to follow the score pretty closely, but I think it's a complicated issue, because it's just not clear whether a composer regarded his interpretive markings as commandments or suggestions. As has already been mentioned, listening to composers play their own works, and disregard their own markings, gives one pause.

I think the issue of fidelity to the score is subtle, and complex, and historically informed. Hence the "fuss". smile

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#2078487 - 05/06/13 06:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wower]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.


Very few composers, who are presently decomposing, approved their manuscripts. Music editors and publishers of the past (and, I might add, the present) shamelessly changed notes in scores, assuming that the composer had made an error (I mentioned in an earlier thread Saint-Saëns, who edited and corrected all of Charpentier's "errors" in cross-relations to make them more "harmonious"), and adding dynamic and phrasing markings to help the aspiring pianist. One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive.

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#2078489 - 05/06/13 06:23 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4763
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.


Very few composers, who are presently decomposing, approved their manuscripts. Music editors and publishers of the past (and, I might add, the present) shamelessly changed notes in scores, assuming that the composer had made an error (I mentioned in an earlier thread Saint-Saëns, who edited and corrected all of Charpentier's "errors" in cross-relations to make them more "harmonious"), and adding dynamic and phrasing markings to help the aspiring pianist. One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive.


Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?

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#2078493 - 05/06/13 06:37 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.


Very few composers, who are presently decomposing, approved their manuscripts. Music editors and publishers of the past (and, I might add, the present) shamelessly changed notes in scores, assuming that the composer had made an error (I mentioned in an earlier thread Saint-Saëns, who edited and corrected all of Charpentier's "errors" in cross-relations to make them more "harmonious"), and adding dynamic and phrasing markings to help the aspiring pianist. One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive.


Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?


Being dead presents a problem. Charpentier died 1704, Saint-Saëns was born 1835

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#2078496 - 05/06/13 06:47 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: beet31425]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page...
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score...

I tend to follow the score pretty closely, but I think it's a complicated issue, because it's just not clear whether a composer regarded his interpretive markings as commandments or suggestions. As has already been mentioned, listening to composers play their own works, and disregard their own markings, gives one pause.

I think the issue of fidelity to the score is subtle, and complex, and historically informed. Hence the "fuss". smile

-J


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".

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#2078501 - 05/06/13 07:00 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19268
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mwm
So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".
When a composer doesn't use any markings it's safe to assume he expected the performer to do something more than keep the tempo, dynamics, etc. constant. Fidelity to the markings in the score is a non issue if there are no markings.

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#2078502 - 05/06/13 07:05 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".
When a composer doesn't use any markings it's safe to assume he expected the performer to do something more than keep the tempo, dynamics, etc. constant. Fidelity to the markings in the score is a non issue if there are no markings.


But therein lies the issue. Since the composer clearly "intended" to not put markings in the score, are you assuming that all interpretations, no matter how wild, satisfy the intent of the composer? And, do you, the listener, respond to all of the interpretations with the same, "Oh my Gawd, THAT was what the composer intended!" ?

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#2078539 - 05/06/13 08:39 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Bach put no dynamic markings in keyboard works, because harpsichords did not have dynamic contrast... We are playing them on a piano, so it's okay to do judicious phrasing, dynamic contrast, and some spare use of pedal. I wouldn't overdo the dynamic contrast, phrasing, or pedaling, though, but that's to keep in a somewhat "harpsichord-ish" style.

And this delves more into the issue of performance practice and style, which is somewhat varied between both authorities and "authorities."

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#2078568 - 05/06/13 10:17 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Bach put no dynamic markings in keyboard works, because harpsichords did not have dynamic contrast... We are playing them on a piano, so it's okay to do judicious phrasing, dynamic contrast, and some spare use of pedal. I wouldn't overdo the dynamic contrast, phrasing, or pedaling, though, but that's to keep in a somewhat "harpsichord-ish" style.

And this delves more into the issue of performance practice and style, which is somewhat varied between both authorities and "authorities."


Actually, that is not quite correct. Bach did put a number of dynamic markings in his autographs, just not very often. He, like many other composers of his era, used terraced dynamics, which on the harpsichord, meant a change of stop or of manual. He also occasionally indicated phrasings in keyboard works, which imitated baroque bowing conventions.

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#2078569 - 05/06/13 10:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
As a "university trained harpsichordist, whatever the heck that means", I can assure you that harpsichords DO have dynamic contrast. Or was I just deluding myself?

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#2078574 - 05/06/13 10:30 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7790
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Bach put no dynamic markings in keyboard works, because harpsichords did not have dynamic contrast... We are playing them on a piano, so it's okay to do judicious phrasing, dynamic contrast, and some spare use of pedal. I wouldn't overdo the dynamic contrast, phrasing, or pedaling, though, but that's to keep in a somewhat "harpsichord-ish" style.

And this delves more into the issue of performance practice and style, which is somewhat varied between both authorities and "authorities."



An argument can be made (but I'm not going to argue it) that if a score was written for harpsichord, then playing it on the piano violates the "composer's intent".

It is interesting that after Arrau went to the trouble of learning and publicly performing all of Bach's works that are playable on harpsichord (a pretty huge undertaking, IMO), he stopped playing them because he came to think they weren't suited for the piano.

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#2078587 - 05/06/13 10:57 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: Mwm


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".


Obviously it's a little different with Bach, and you must know that. If you've ever heard his choral works, that's where it's at. That's Bach. He knew what he was doing - I think in the manuscript of the Inventions he wrote "to be played cantabile", and you need shape to play cantabile. Which means you are allowed to shape. Still, we don't play it like it's a wild romantic piece (well, I guess some do but that's besides the point). Bach also preferred the clavichord to the harpsichord because it had more of a dynamic range. Btw, how much dynamic range does the harpsichord really have? Idle curiosity. I have heard harpsichordists claiming it has it, but is it basically the difference between one manual to another? I thought it definitely doesn't have the ability to crescendo from note to note. I always thought it was quite subtle and that a clavichord possesses more of a dynamic range.

But I'm in no way an expert on such instruments. It's just what I've read and experienced while playing them.
_________________________

'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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#2078589 - 05/06/13 11:02 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: wr



An argument can be made (but I'm not going to argue it) that if a score was written for harpsichord, then playing it on the piano violates the "composer's intent".



Yeah, it does. But so does playing a Beethoven sonata on a Steinway.... Or any Bach on a modern violin... etc etc. We should play them on our instruments, otherwise it would be a huge loss in my opinion. But we should also play them more or less in style and not in a grotesque way.. it just has to be done tastefully.
_________________________

'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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#2078592 - 05/06/13 11:08 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I do think that it is sometimes fun to play music or hear performances on period instruments, though smile

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#2078611 - 05/07/13 12:02 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13775
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?


Because composers often lived very far away, and email and telephones didn't exist.

The process was very slow, and there was often a rush to get things published and on the market.
_________________________
"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)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2078671 - 05/07/13 06:35 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7790
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I do think that it is sometimes fun to play music or hear performances on period instruments, though smile


And, too, in the case of harpsichords - they are still being built and modern composers do write music for them, so maybe they aren't really period instruments. At least not in the sense that a theorbo is.

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#2078727 - 05/07/13 09:09 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5243
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?


Because composers often lived very far away, and email and telephones didn't exist.

The process was very slow, and there was often a rush to get things published and on the market.
If I may comment on that...

With Editions Musica Ferrum thus far I've dealt with 15-17 composers. Most were quite eager to help out the editing process. Some were gone the minute the contracts were signed and we were forced to take actions in our hands. A couple of composers were too eager to have ago at editing themselves...

So it could very well be a case that a composer is/was too busy to care for the publishing material...

Now, we're in the process of adding works from two dead composers. The first one is a case, whose daughter is an accomplished musician, who's performed her fathers works regularly, so it should be "ok". The second case though is a nightmare. His children are not musicians, his manuscripts are a bit of mess, and while there's been some attempt at musicological research on his case, things are still blurry at best.

Even if the contracts with the above two cases were to be signed today, we'd still have to publish (ergo print officially) their first work towards the end of 2014 for the first composer and 2015 for the second (talking about big orchestral works, not solo piano stuff, btw. Which is a huge game changer).

And that, only, to publish a 2nd edition shortly after with plenty of mistakes corrected and many more to be corrected thereafter! grin

_____________________

About a week ago, I was contacted by someone in this forum, about a possible error in "Piano Stories".

Here's my reply to him:

Quote:
...It's true that I play it with a G natural in the recording and tried it on the piano. but I'll be honest that G# doesn't sound exactly bad. It takes it to a new place (and there's no other G# until then to be heard, in which case it's even more fun). I'm not sure what to chose. Between you and me, it IS a typo, but if it were another composer (dead) and you had no one to ask, what would you do? The next one is G natural and the same progression at a different rhythm, but at the same time these little things add a tiny bit of a spice in the music!

So your call after all! I'm happy with both cases!

Some tpyos can be fun I guess (I frequently type the word tpyo as such, and I know that it's wrong. I do the same with the word awesmoe! ;))

His reply was equally delightful, but I can't quote it without his permission...

Perhaps the above things might shed some light on some things... :-/
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2078734 - 05/07/13 09:36 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Mwm


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".


Obviously it's a little different with Bach, and you must know that. If you've ever heard his choral works, that's where it's at. That's Bach. He knew what he was doing - I think in the manuscript of the Inventions he wrote "to be played cantabile", and you need shape to play cantabile. Which means you are allowed to shape. Still, we don't play it like it's a wild romantic piece (well, I guess some do but that's besides the point). Bach also preferred the clavichord to the harpsichord because it had more of a dynamic range. Btw, how much dynamic range does the harpsichord really have? Idle curiosity. I have heard harpsichordists claiming it has it, but is it basically the difference between one manual to another? I thought it definitely doesn't have the ability to crescendo from note to note. I always thought it was quite subtle and that a clavichord possesses more of a dynamic range.

But I'm in no way an expert on such instruments. It's just what I've read and experienced while playing them.


The clavichord has a large dynamic range, it is just between ppp and p and is controlled by the player the same way as on a piano - velocity. The harpsichord has almost no dynamic range on a single string - an increase in the velocity of a key strike does change the volume slightly. The big change in dynamic level occurs by adding stops (strings). The Pleyel two manual I used for performance had 16', 8',8', and 4' strings on the lower manual, and 8',8' on the upper. The second upper 8 was a second set of plectra placed closer to the forward termination point of the string, causing a nasal sound. A mute stop was also used.

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#2078740 - 05/07/13 09:44 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I do think that it is sometimes fun to play music or hear performances on period instruments, though smile


I much, much prefer to hear orchestral performances on period instruments with scholarly research used as the basis of the performance practice.

I much, much prefer to hear the Bach's WTC played well on a piano, not by Angela H. however - BOORING! - I can listen to Edward Aldwell's WTC all day, every day.

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#2078741 - 05/07/13 09:50 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3874
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Mwm


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".


Obviously it's a little different with Bach, and you must know that. If you've ever heard his choral works, that's where it's at. That's Bach. He knew what he was doing - I think in the manuscript of the Inventions he wrote "to be played cantabile", and you need shape to play cantabile. Which means you are allowed to shape. Still, we don't play it like it's a wild romantic piece (well, I guess some do but that's besides the point). Bach also preferred the clavichord to the harpsichord because it had more of a dynamic range. Btw, how much dynamic range does the harpsichord really have? Idle curiosity. I have heard harpsichordists claiming it has it, but is it basically the difference between one manual to another? I thought it definitely doesn't have the ability to crescendo from note to note. I always thought it was quite subtle and that a clavichord possesses more of a dynamic range.

But I'm in no way an expert on such instruments. It's just what I've read and experienced while playing them.


Not to morph the thread too much, but here are a few interesting examples I'd like to share.

In this lesson below, Robert Hill answers your question about the dynamic range on a harpsichord. (EDIT: I see Mwm answered while I was typing! thumb Consider this corroboration, then.) That answer starts at about 2:13 in the vid. I'm embedding the lesson, because the first minute and a half underscores other wisdom that has been shared previously in this thread about making music, which, btw, I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive." (That part, Pogo, I know you already know... grin )



2:18--"On the harpsichord, it's very difficult to control the dynamic of the instrument anyway, the instrument is not very sensitive to dynamic, well, actually, it is exquisitely sensitive but it's a very tiny range, so to get the difference between a note that sounds louder, and a note that's not so loud, we have to keep out hands very relaxed."

Also, regarding the question about how to get Bach to fit on a piano--an oblique answer, but this was one of those true "Ah-ha!!!" moments when I stumbled across this. Here is the prelude from Handel's Keyboard Suite in B-flat major, played on a... fortepiano ! :



In the comment section, the performer, Robert Hill, notes, "There is solid evidence that Händel had a Florentine fortepiano regularly available to him in the house of a friend from the 1730's onwards. This performance explores how his keyboard music can sound on a fortepiano of the kind he was familiar with." Fortepianos have a sustain mechanism operated by one's knee. When I heard this performance, above, it untied all sorts of mental knots I was having about "How much pedal to use when playing Baroque on a piano?" Take a deep breath and use your judgement is, I think, the answer.

And that is your early instrument lesson for today. Now, go practice piano!

--Andy


Edited by Cinnamonbear (05/07/13 09:53 AM)
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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