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#2133624 - 08/16/13 12:01 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: vers la flan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: vers la flan
Not entirely sure what you're asking for here regarding Richter.

Funny, because you answered it totally. grin

Quote:
Richter strikes me as a perfect balance of his bloodline -- a strict sense of structure from his German side and the hot-bloodedness from his Russian side. Thus, his interpretations at their very best have this mixture of a clear and consistent rhythmic underpinning combined with a controlled (sometimes just barely) impetuousness. In many ways, it's a perfect metaphor for the contradictory aspects of his nature and identity.

Well said, I guess -- and I'd have to guess that this is what keeps him from having any well-defined identity to me, because it's a mix.

Also my impression is that he played quite differently at different times, maybe reflecting the mix you talked about, maybe also reflecting (I know this is dangerous to speculate, but what the hey) not having a constant sense of how it all fit together?

Quote:
There's a reason why his documentary is subtitled "The Enigma." He's a difficult personality to pin down.

That seems completely in line with what I said before: lack of a clear identity, no clear projected sense of exactly what he was.

Quote:
I also jotted a few things about how I perceive his pianism but afterward it seemed like the kind of stuff you weren't really looking for (?)

Sure it would be!

Quote:
Incidentally, I'm unclear about the significance of nailing down an identity regarding what it has to do with one's art....

For me and I'd guess probably for most people, "greatness" in a musician or really anyone in the arts depends on some kind of uniqueness, and usually some tangible and describable kind of uniqueness. And with great musical performers, generally there's something we could call a "personality" involved as part of it, and without some fairly clear projected identity, it's hard for there to be a projected personality.

I'm surprised that you're surprised about my having talked about "identity." Wouldn't you be able pretty easily to take those 10 pianists I mentioned and characterize each of them with a few words or phrases and in a way that adds up to a pretty clear image?

Actually I think what you said about Richter is a pretty good job of doing that for him, maybe just about as good a job as could be done. And as per the things I noted, I think that at the same time it also reflects why he maybe doesn't so clearly project an identity.

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#2133657 - 08/16/13 02:10 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Pogorelich.]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 943
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
For me it would be:

Rachmaninov
Horowitz
Cliburn
Richter (you didn't include Richter/??? tsk tsk)
Rubinstein
Serkin
Schnabel
Tureck
Gould
...

It's good to see a mention of Serkin.

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#2133662 - 08/16/13 02:24 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Ferdinand]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
It's good to see a mention of Serkin.

Which one? grin

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#2133668 - 08/16/13 02:38 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
Ferdinand Offline
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Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 943
Loc: California
The great one.

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#2133669 - 08/16/13 02:45 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Ferdinand]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
The great one.

Now wait a minute -- dad wasn't too bad either! ha

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#2133716 - 08/16/13 06:20 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5423
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


What about what I asked up there.....can anybody try to say something about it?


Let me try to pin down Richter grin .
He is totally uncompromising in his playing, going to extremes, if he thinks that's what is required to do justice to the music - from stretching meditative slowness to the point of stasis (e.g. Schubert's D960) to going almost berserk in some Russian music, and even something like Chopin's Ballade No.1 and Beethoven's Appassionata (listen to his Carnegie Hall concert on his first visit to the USA). He never tries to draw the listener in with color or pyrotechnics (unlike Horowitz) and wants you to concentrate on the music rather than his playing, which may be why he preferred the more neutral tonal qualities of the Yamaha CFIII to the Steinway D from the 1960s onwards - and why he increasingly withdrew to playing in tiny venues, often announced at the last minute, rather than big concert halls.

This philosophy can produce anything from the deadly dull (if the listener isn't prepared....) to the outmost in visceral excitement, from the most sublime statements to the grossest misrepresentation of the music (at least, to some ears).

I must admit that of the several CDs I have of Richter from various stages of his life, there are a few that I wouldn't care to listen to again; several that I'd listen to only if I was in the mood; but many that to my ears, are almost definitive. Apart from his celebrated Sofia concert, there's his Liszt Sonata (live Aldeburgh recital), Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Debussy Estampes, Schubert D784 etc (from Tokyo 1979), Bartók, Szymanowski, Hindemith......
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2133761 - 08/16/13 08:43 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
The great one.

Now wait a minute -- dad wasn't too bad either! ha


Pretty sure Ferdinand meant dad. wink

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#2133972 - 08/16/13 05:50 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 155
Hi Mark C, thanks for the response.

I think it's appropriate that Richter's identity doesn't come across to you as he seemed to insist that it didn't (insistence on fidelity to score, dark stage illuminating only the sheet music and keyboard, etc.) He famously rebuffed a compliment from Gould (who said he was the only one who made Schubert compelling to him) by saying it was Schubert who was compelling, not himself. Anyway, can't the elusiveness of character -- the "enigma" -- be a compelling quality in itself?

BTW, I'm not necessarily trying to win you over. I absolutely respect your perspective. I imagine your take on Richter to be somewhat in line with Rubinstein's initial impression (nothing special), only without the subsequent unconscious response.

Quote:
Also my impression is that he played quite differently at different times, maybe reflecting the mix you talked about, maybe also reflecting (I know this is dangerous to speculate, but what the hey) not having a constant sense of how it all fit together?


I do think his playing changed a bit, notably in the sixties, where he mellowed just a tad and reined things in enough to have greater control. All part of the natural growth of an artist, I think. Perhaps due to his having more access to western European sensibilities, a sense of refinement which he was initially criticized of missing in some circles.


Quote:
For me and I'd guess probably for most people, "greatness" in a musician or really anyone in the arts depends on some kind of uniqueness, and usually some tangible and describable kind of uniqueness. And with great musical performers, generally there's something we could call a "personality" involved as part of it, and without some fairly clear projected identity, it's hard for there to be a projected personality.


Well, some talk up Richter as a chameleon, playing differently for each composer. While that's true to some extent, I think that's pretty much the case for most pianists, right? Nevertheless, I find his playing really distinctive regardless of what he's playing. The quality of his tone is so solid, so definite. Rarely "wet" (sometimes detrimentally on the dry side) and never "muddy." It's difficult for me to come up with a pianist with a comparable sound, the granite-like blocks of his chords and the stark relief of his melody lines. The only one I can think of is Rachmaninov. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention his enormous dynamic range and his unparalleled control over the entire spectrum.

Richter is in the camp of the score worshipers, of which I personally am not. Yet the strength of his convictions are so strong, so convincing, that I can't help but be won over. I consider a number of his recordings to be benchmarks. I think that the times where he fails (interpretively rather than technically) are often the times when his conviction is lacking and the lack betrays him since it is so strong otherwise. He has admitted, for example, that he just didn't get Mozart. And while I am no authority on Beethoven and have no issues with the performances in question that I've heard, he admitted that he had no idea if his renditions of the later sonatas are any good or not. Generally speaking, though, I think he had a strong grasp on the music he performed, and in this I respectfully disagree with your speculation that he lacked a constant sense of how things fit together.

If I were to distill how I characterize Richter's playing in brief, I would use the following words: austere, unsentimental, direct, clear, vivid, driven, rhythmic, solid, powerful, spacious.

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#2133976 - 08/16/13 05:58 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: bennevis]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 155
Hi bennevis, how are you?

I think you characterize Richter's playing admirably. I slightly depart from your assertion that he "never tries to draw the listener in with color," though I do know what you're talking about. I find his Debussy quite colorful, for example.

Super duper thumbs up for mentioning his Schubert concert in Tokyo. That is a particularly exceptional performance, even for him.

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#2133980 - 08/16/13 06:05 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: vers la flan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Great replies here from Bennevis and Vers, and better than I've seen anywhere about what it was 'that made Richter Richter.'
I would offer, though, that I think much of what Bennevis said:

Originally Posted By: bennevis
....going to extremes, if he thinks that's what is required to do justice to the music - from stretching meditative slowness to the point of stasis (e.g. Schubert's D960) to going almost berserk in some Russian music, and even something like Chopin's Ballade No.1 and Beethoven's Appassionata (listen to his Carnegie Hall concert on his first visit to the USA)....

.....applies to any number of top-level Russian pianists of the last couple of generations. (Who?? I couldn't tell you, just that those are the characteristics I associate with Russian pianists in general in the latter part of the 20th century.) Maybe we could say that Richter "did it the best," but even so, if some of the main stuff we can say about him is stuff that many other pianists did......well, I'd go back to what I said before.

BTW that recording of the Appassionata was my first acquaintance with Richter. It was right around the time it came out. The recording was passed around a lot among my crowd and discussed a lot, especially in comparison with Horowitz's recording.

Originally Posted By: vers la flan
....I respectfully disagree with your speculation that he lacked a constant sense of how things fit together.

That's more than fine -- I would never assert it as being so.

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#2133984 - 08/16/13 06:15 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 155
Hi all,

I feel I've participated in a bit of threadjacking, so out of respect to the original intent I'll present a list of my candidates for Greatest Pianists of the 20th Century. As others have mentioned, the criteria for "Greatness" includes various factors from technical address to cultural impact. This list is most definitely mutable, but at the moment, in order:

Sviatoslav Richter
Vladimir Horowitz
Arthur Rubinstein
Glenn Gould
Van Cliburn
Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Josef Hofmann
Leopold Godowsky
Alfred Cortot
Artur Schnabel

It pains me to leave out some of my favorites (Gilels, Sofronitsky, Lipatti) while some inclusions are given grudgingly, though respectfully.

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#2133991 - 08/16/13 06:37 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19590
Loc: New York City
In no particular order:
Rachmaninov
Richter
Gilels
Horowitz
Zimerman
Pletnev
Argerich
Friedmam
Perahia
Rubintein

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#2133992 - 08/16/13 06:45 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19590
Loc: New York City
Here is the list from BBC magazine from a few years ago. They polled 100+ of the greatest living pianists and based the list on their replies.

In at no. 20 ("last place" though given the caliber....):Claudio Arrau

19th place: Josef Hofmann

18th place: Walter Gieseking

17th place: Glenn Gould

16th place: Murray Perahia

15th place: Wilhelm Kempff

14th place: Edwin Fischer

13th place: Radu Lupu

12th place: Ignaz Friedman

11th place: Krystian Zimerman

10th place: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

9th place: Martha Argerich

8th place: Emil Gilels

7th place: Artur Schnabel

6th place: Dinu Lipatti

5th place: Alfred Cortot

4th place: Sviatoslav Richter

3rd place: Vladimir Horowitz

2nd place: Arthur Rubinstein

And in 1st place: drum roll please.........

Sergey Rachmaninov!
-++

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#2134129 - 08/16/13 11:52 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: pianoloverus]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8926
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Here is the list from BBC magazine from a few years ago. They polled 100+ of the greatest living pianists and based the list on their replies.

I don't see BBC Magazine all that frequently (I generally prefer Gramophone), but I did see that list. (I think a mate of mine emailed it to me.)

Very hard to argue with those stellar names. And yet... I have heard Leif Ove Andsnes several times, and I find it impossible to believe that this prince of pianists is not more highly regarded. He is awesome in concert, it is a sound like I have never heard before!

I wish he would get on with the Brahms Bb, and stop wasting his time with Rach 3, which, IMO, doesn't suit him anyway.
_________________________
Jason

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#2134273 - 08/17/13 09:44 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4892
Loc: USA
10) Horowitz

9) Horowitz

8) Horowitz

7) Horowitz

6) Horowitz

5) Horowitz

4) Horowitz

3) Horowitz

2) Horowitz

1) Horowitz

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#2134492 - 08/17/13 07:04 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: JoelW]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8926
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: JoelW
10) Horowitz

9) Horowitz

8) Horowitz

7) Horowitz

6) Horowitz

5) Horowitz

4) Horowitz

3) Horowitz

2) Horowitz

1) Horowitz

Well at least Vladimir de Pachmann wasn't on your list. (Unlike several pages above.)

Judging from some of the recordings of his I have heard -and with input from Harold Schonberg- I would suppose one just had to be there.
_________________________
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#2134499 - 08/17/13 07:30 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Well at least Vladimir de Pachmann wasn't on your list. (Unlike several pages above.)

Judging from some of the recordings of his I have heard -and with input from Harold Schonberg- I would suppose one just had to be there.

Actually he'd be one of my "honorable mention"s.

The argument for him (if you believe this, which I do) is that he's the closest thing we've got (and to anything we had in the 20th century) to how Chopin played. Of course I'm talking about if you take away the eccentricity and craziness, which admittedly is sort of making him into a different person. smile

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#2134519 - 08/17/13 08:06 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: JoelW]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5350
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: JoelW
10) Horowitz

9) Horowitz

8) Horowitz

7) Horowitz

6) Horowitz

5) Horowitz

4) Horowitz

3) Horowitz

2) Horowitz

1) Horowitz

Not even an honorable mention for Rachmaninoff?
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2134559 - 08/17/13 09:54 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1814
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
I'm not really qualified to make comparisons, but in this order, these are the pianists whose recordings I most often choose to hear:

Pletnev
Moravec
Gould
Rubenstein
Barenboim
Horowitz
Brendel
Richter
Hewitt
Michelangeli


.


Edited by ClsscLib (08/18/13 06:56 AM)
Edit Reason: Corrections
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2134683 - 08/18/13 05:40 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
UberB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/12
Posts: 28
1. Cory Hall (aka BachScholar)
2. Alfred Brendel
3. Angela Hewitt
4. Andras Schiff
5. Lang Lang
6. Murray Perahia
7. Maurizio Pollini
8. Vladimir Ashkenazy
9. John Rusnak
10. Li Yundi

Click to reveal..
Here's my real list.
1. Richter
2. Gilels
3. Lipatti
4. Arrau
5. Michelangeli
6. Kapell
7. Sokolov
8. Rubinstein
9. Annie Fischer
10. Horowitz


Edited by UberB (08/18/13 05:47 AM)

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#2134754 - 08/18/13 10:12 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: UberB]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: UberB
9. John Rusnak

.....is pretty terrible. ha

What do you like about him?

BTW, a look at the Amazon page for his Chopin Etudes will show a review from a familiar person. grin

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#2134774 - 08/18/13 10:45 AM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4892
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


BTW, a look at the Amazon page for his Chopin Etudes will show a review from a familiar person. grin


"I am ASTONISHED............." laugh

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#2134850 - 08/18/13 01:45 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: JoelW]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18227
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: JoelW
10) Horowitz

9) Horowitz

8) Horowitz

7) Horowitz

6) Horowitz

5) Horowitz

4) Horowitz

3) Horowitz

2) Horowitz

1) Horowitz


... and this from the poster who calls Rubinstein "stupid!"
_________________________
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- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2134916 - 08/18/13 04:04 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 778
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Well at least Vladimir de Pachmann wasn't on your list. (Unlike several pages above.)

Judging from some of the recordings of his I have heard -and with input from Harold Schonberg- I would suppose one just had to be there.

Actually he'd be one of my "honorable mention"s.

Gee, Mark, Pachmann gets an honorable mention, but no mention at all of that most neglected of pianists, Alexander Brailowsky? Not even a crumb? grin A.B.'s Totentanz remains my favorite version to this day.

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#2134922 - 08/18/13 04:11 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Old Man]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19841
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Old Man
Gee, Mark, Pachmann gets an honorable mention, but no mention at all of that most neglected of pianists, Alexander Brailowsky? Not even a crumb? grin A.B.'s Totentanz remains my favorite version to this day.

Cool!
And BTW indeed Brailowsky would also make that next list, although not as high as Pachmann.

But, Brailowsky most definitely would make my list of 10 FAVORITES (as opposed to greatest).

There would be a lot of overlap between my 'greatest' and 'favorites' lists, for the first 3 people:

1. Horowitz
2. Rubinstein
3. Cliburn

After that, they diverge totally.
Brailowsky makes it, and then I think the rest of the spots would have to be reserved for my teachers. grin
(Most sincerely.)

Malcolm Bilson
Robert Silverman
Seymour Bernstein
Eric Heidsieck
Elizabeth Wolff
Sandro Russo

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#2134998 - 08/18/13 06:28 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Heretic]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4892
Loc: USA
My real list:

(favorites, not historically greatest)

1) Horowitz
2) S. Bunin
3) Pre-insane Pogorelich
4) Pletnev
5) Rubinstein
6) Gould

Don't think I can go to ten.

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#2134999 - 08/18/13 06:31 PM Re: PW's 10 Greatest Pianists of 20th Century [Re: Mark_C]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8926
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
...and then I think the rest of the spots would have to be reserved for my teachers. grin
(Most sincerely.)

Malcolm Bilson

Mark ... I don't doubt your sincerity and I am sure Bilson was fabulous as a teacher and as an individual.

OTH, if Bilson had stuck to teaching and not entered the recording studio, well, the mystery would still be intact.
_________________________
Jason

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