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#496768 - 06/11/02 05:40 PM Dissatisfaction with Ives
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1527
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Who plays some Ives here ? I'm determined to play at least a couple of his shorter pieces, or perhaps a movement from a sonata. I can play the notes all right but I can't as yet produce that magical "Ivesian" quality, which people like Noel Lee, John Kirkpatrick and Joanna MacGregor do so admirably. What is the "trick" if anything ? Ives was such an individual that he probably played the piano in a funny way too. Ought I to abandon weight transfer altogether and simply leap rapidly about or retain legato as far as possible, at least in small groups ? I'm thinking particularly of "Some Southpaw Pitching" which is defying my attempts to unite physical technique and musical expression.
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#496769 - 06/11/02 06:04 PM Re: Dissatisfaction with Ives
Matt G. Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 3789
Loc: Plainfield, IL
The problem, as I see it, is that Ives' stuff is SO idiosyncratic, any attempts at a 'standard' interpretation will be met with frustration. My suggestion would be to approach it as a blank slate, ignoring any and all interpretations you may have heard. Play through the notes. Find the phrases you like or the ones that beg for emphasis. Make the raw material work with YOUR mind and fingers until YOU are comfortable with the result. I wouldn't make any blanket technical suggestions, because I don't think anything really applies across the board.

I will make one non-technical suggestion, though. I've found that Ives almost always has an underlying narrative quality. If you sense the message or story, you should try to integrate that into your interpretation. Often, the printed page of Ives' music gives little indication of the depth involved in producing a convincing interpretation. But once mastered, as you've heard from others' renditions, it makes for a memorable experience.

So, in essence, don't try to emulate anyone else. Find what you believe to be Ives' voice in the piece, then use your technical arsenal to bring it out in your playing.
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#496770 - 06/11/02 06:31 PM Re: Dissatisfaction with Ives
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1527
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Matt:

Thanks, that makes sense. The evocative power of Ives' piano music has always been obvious to me. One almost thinks it would be easy to improvise, but it isn't, it's very difficult to capture its essence. When I hear Ives I see and hear all sorts of wonderful things. An analogy, perhaps not entirely valid, with the parallel perspective landscape of the naive American painters springs to mind. Ives wasn't a primitive at all, of course, but nonetheless I do sense a preoccupation with landscape, a type of macrocosmic view at work. I think either he or Ruggles said, "The rocks on the mountain begin to shout.", or something similar.

What you are saying is that to play it requires confidence in my own musical vision. Message gratefully received.
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