Do great musicianship and great technique usually...

Posted by: pianoloverus

Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/01/12 05:58 PM

go together?

This was mentioned by a Jeffrey Jones in another thread. He said they do and I basically agree with him. I don't think there have been many pianists who are generally considered great who weren't great both as technicians and as musicians. Of course, I don't mean that every great pianist had a technique on the level of Horowitz or Hamelin, but I think very few pianists generally considered great had technical problems or a "weak" technique. In fact, I don't see how one can be considered great if one is weak in either area.

1. Do you think that great technique and great musicianship normally go together?

2. Even if you said yes to #1 can you name some exceptions, i.e. pianists with great technique but weak musicianship or vice versa?

3. For amateur pianists, do you think their level of technical skill and musical understanding are generally on about the same level?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/01/12 06:24 PM

1. If one does not have the technique to bring off the musicianship, you will never know about the musicianship.

2. Cortot and Schnabel were better known for their musicianship than their technique, at least for the bulk of their careers. There are many pianists with better technique than musicianship, but since pyrotechnics sells, they have careers. I do not wish to name any, because I do not wish to offend people for whom technique is so important.

3. No.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/01/12 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
1. Do you think that great technique and great musicianship normally go together?
To become a really world class pianist, you need both. If one is a gifted musician but a lousy pianist, I assume it would make sense to choose another instrument or become a great conductor or composer.

Quote:
2. Even if you said yes to #1 can you name some exceptions, i.e. pianists with great technique but weak musicianship or vice versa?
Sure. I've heard several professional performances that left me scratching my head. One was a harpsichordist who performed with the Seattle Symphony and was just terrible. He had technique but no musicality. One pianist who did not impress me at all with his musicality was Awadagin Pratt. The same for Marc-Andre Hamelin, although maybe he was having an off night. I once went to a recital given by a young man who was about to leave for the major Australian competition. He had blazing technique but his music was loud, louder, fast and faster. IMO he had astonishing technique but did not know how to make music. My ears were ringing and I couldn't wait to leave.
Quote:

3. For amateur pianists, do you think their level of technical skill and musical understanding are generally on about the same level?
I think it varies too much to judge. It's safe to assume that most of us are working hard on both and are making the best progress we can when we find the time.
Posted by: fledgehog

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/02/12 03:32 AM

I believe that emotion and technique are mutually exclusive. Each has the means to support and complement the other, but it's definitely possible to have one without the other. There seems to be a trend towards robotic, note-perfection in the classical music world now -- lots of students just learning the notes, with absolutely no understanding of what they mean. At the same time, there are plenty of musicians who feel each composition as though they had written it themselves, and yet don't quite have the technical means to get the tricky passages and runs up to speed and clean. I believe you're more likely to find a stellar musician who also has good technique, than a virtuoso who can also emote.

There are a number of reasons why technique seems to be so much more heavily emphasized in modern times. Recording studios, multiple takes, studio magic, etc, have raised everybody's standards of what a good performance sounds like. In concert, even technical titans flub occasionally, but because we've become used to edited studio recordings, suddenly the occasional missed note sticks out like a sore thumb. Another part of it is that classical music is sadly suffering, and flashy/bombastic is just going to sell more. To the casual listener, La Campanella is going to have just the right "wow" factor, but a late Schubert sonata is going to be long and tedious. Thus, the technical showcasers get all the attention. I also believe technique is easier to learn than musicality. You can train and do exercises to strengthen and coordinate your fingers, but it's much, much more difficult (if not impossible) to teach somebody genuine musical emotion.
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/02/12 11:11 AM

Originally Posted By: gooddog

Quote:
2. Even if you said yes to #1 can you name some exceptions, i.e. pianists with great technique but weak musicianship or vice versa?
Sure. I've heard several professional performances that left me scratching my head. One was a harpsichordist who performed with the Seattle Symphony and was just terrible. He had technique but no musicality. One pianist who did not impress me at all with his musicality was Awadagin Pratt. The same for Marc-Andre Hamelin, although maybe he was having an off night. I once went to a recital given by a young man who was about to leave for the major Australian competition. He had blazing technique but his music was loud, louder, fast and faster. IMO he had astonishing technique but did not know how to make music. My ears were ringing and I couldn't wait to leave.


I think there's more than a bit of abuse and misunderstanding of "piano technique," and "musicians" like this are the result. Technique is not about the ability to play the fastest and loudest all the time. It's about the ability to control and portray the full range of musical material, no matter how difficult or awkward. Hamelin has the full range of technique. Many successful pianists do not.
Posted by: signa

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/02/12 11:59 AM

musicianship depends on techniques, which is essential base of a great pianist. but musicality of a pianist goes above techniques or virtuosity. we have tons of pianists in the world who can play anything, but how many among them make it to a great pianist with something unique and special to say in music making? someone like Bozhanov or young Pogorelich doesn't come along often, who would arouse controversy, debate or sensation, and yet would leave the world some unforgettable music experience and moments...
Posted by: Works1

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/02/12 12:30 PM

Originally Posted By: signa
musicianship depends on techniques, which is essential base of a great pianist. but musicality of a pianist goes above techniques or virtuosity. we have tons of pianists in the world who can play anything, but how many among them make it to a great pianist with something unique and special to say in music making? someone like Bozhanov or young Pogorelich doesn't come along often, who would arouse controversy, debate or sensation, and yet would leave the world some unforgettable music experience and moments...


Sad thing is I think most of the general listening public do not appreciate sensitive playing and would rather hear a flashy lightening fast version of La Campanella over Schubert's D959, for example.

It's also sad when something like the ridiculous midi reproduction below gets more hits on Youtube than almost any classical piece performed by even the best artists (albeit most out of curiousity I imagine):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHBuKmyhbtQ&feature=player_detailpage
Posted by: wr

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/02/12 09:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Works1


It's also sad when something like the ridiculous midi reproduction below gets more hits on Youtube than almost any classical piece performed by even the best artists (albeit most out of curiousity I imagine):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHBuKmyhbtQ&feature=player_detailpage


I didn't click on the link to find out what you are talking about, but you know, posting the link will probably generate more of those deplorable hits. smile
Posted by: polyphasicpianist

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/02/12 10:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Works1
Originally Posted By: signa
musicianship depends on techniques, which is essential base of a great pianist. but musicality of a pianist goes above techniques or virtuosity. we have tons of pianists in the world who can play anything, but how many among them make it to a great pianist with something unique and special to say in music making? someone like Bozhanov or young Pogorelich doesn't come along often, who would arouse controversy, debate or sensation, and yet would leave the world some unforgettable music experience and moments...


Sad thing is I think most of the general listening public do not appreciate sensitive playing and would rather hear a flashy lightening fast version of La Campanella over Schubert's D959, for example.



Yes, remember the good ol' days when music was perfect and you would never hear arguments of this sort. You know, the glory days of Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, when the concept of "spectacle" didn't exist, and muscians represented a higher calling and grasped, indeed held, something spiritual, something ethereal; when art was perfect. Those were the days.

Not like the [censored] we get now. Bunch of mechanistic twats who clearly are only in it for the fame and glory. Pianist's these days! Honestly! Ain't got no respect, Ain't got no appreciation! Just a bunch of thoughtless artless ingrates. If only people knew how perfect the world used to be!
Posted by: Marco M

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/03/12 06:26 AM

Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
Yes, remember the good ol' days when music was perfect and you would never hear arguments of this sort. You know, the glory days of Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, when the concept of "spectacle" didn't exist, and muscians represented a higher calling and grasped, indeed held, something spiritual, something ethereal; when art was perfect. Those were the days.

Really? They all have been great showman as well! It is known that Beethoven sometimes played so intense that the pianoforte he was performing on broke under his fingers. And not once. He pretty well knew about the quality of his instruments - and knew how to make a spectacle out of it.
Posted by: kapelli

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/03/12 06:37 AM

You can be great technic completely without any musical feelings.
And opposite - you can have "Weak" (weak im comparison to lets say Volodos, Horowitz, Godowsky etc) like Sofronicki (I don't know what's the proper spelling for his name in English) or Petri - but play beautifully.

Read Henry Neuhaus book - you won't find anything better about the correct approach to piano playing, from each side.
Also there you will find answer for your questions smile

Jest compare Bang Bang and Yuja Wang.
Both have tremendous skills - Lang perhaps even much better, his control of action is out of this world.
But his playing is like being in circus, but not like being in the temple of art (Just look on youtube his two Rach preludes from PROMS - bing bang technic with completely lost musicality, he even killed the Stars and Stripes - watch the video that was made in front is White House in Washington).
He is sometimes good in low volume, lirycal places - but most of the time his performaces are like 10-year child which want to say to everybody "hey, i am doing stupid things, so maybe now you will see me eventually".

Listening to Yuja is like a long journey, full of color and emotions... It's much more deep fastinating playing... I love listening to her.. great technic and musicality...

Regards
Posted by: Cheeto717

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/03/12 09:37 AM

I doubt there was ever a musician who DIDN'T use his skills to flex his ego.

And, call me shallow, but I think I'd rather listen to La Campanella than most Schubert works.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/03/12 10:24 AM

'Musicianship' is subjective, technique is objective. Therein lies the difficulty of trying to differentiate between the two. Horowitz told Perahia (when the latter studied with him) that 'to be more than a virtuoso, first you must become a virtuoso.' After which Perahia played music that didn't suit him - Rachmaninoff and Liszt. Did he become a better pianist after that experience? I found his Chopin less poetic and more relentless after it (listen to his Chopin Concertos), but does that mean it's less 'musical' than before?

And what did Mozart say about Clementi's playing when the two fought in a duel? That's often what some people say about those with great techniques....
Posted by: babama

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/03/12 05:01 PM

Originally Posted By: kapelli
You can be great technic completely without any musical feelings.
And opposite - you can have "Weak" (weak im comparison to lets say Volodos, Horowitz, Godowsky etc) like Sofronicki (I don't know what's the proper spelling for his name in English) or Petri - but play beautifully.


Sofronitsky had a weak technique?!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/03/12 05:10 PM

Originally Posted By: babama
Originally Posted By: kapelli
You can be great technic completely without any musical feelings.
And opposite - you can have "Weak" (weak im comparison to lets say Volodos, Horowitz, Godowsky etc) like Sofronicki (I don't know what's the proper spelling for his name in English) or Petri - but play beautifully.


Sofronitsky had a weak technique?!
Petri had weak technique??
Posted by: kapelli

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/04/12 07:15 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: babama
Originally Posted By: kapelli
You can be great technic completely without any musical feelings.
And opposite - you can have "Weak" (weak im comparison to lets say Volodos, Horowitz, Godowsky etc) like Sofronicki (I don't know what's the proper spelling for his name in English) or Petri - but play beautifully.


Sofronitsky had a weak technique?!
Petri had weak technique??


Henry Neuhaus claims that technique of Petri was especially weak in octaves (or not so good as the rest). Sofronitzky also had some weak points. But you know, the question about technique on this level of pianists is rather something like:
Can the pianist play each figure at the same immense speed as his competitors (or with one very high tempo)?
Even good pianists have their week points.
I know, that all of them compared to us have great skills, but if you would stand on their level, for sure you would change the point of view ;-)

Of course, you can doubt about Henry Neuhaus thesis and argue with him grin
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/04/12 08:23 AM

Originally Posted By: kapelli
Neuhaus claims that technique of Petri was especially weak in octaves (or not so good as the rest). Sofronitzky also had some weak points. But you know, the question about technique on this level of pianists is rather something like:
Can the pianist play each figure at the same immense speed as his competitors (or with one very high tempo)?
Even good pianists have their week points.
I know, that all of them compared to us have great skills, but if you would stand on their level, for sure you would change the point of view ;-)

Of course, you can doubt about Henry Neuhaus thesis and argue with him grin
Petri and Sofronitsky were both world class pianists so I think any claims of weak technique are rather silly. Using just one person's opinion about a single aspect of another pianist's technique is particularly dangerous. If a pianist does not have the technique of a Horowitz, Richter, or Gilels that does not mean he has a weak technique.

On Petri, Dubal says:
"Even in old age his technique remained superlative."
"He was capable of the most fabulous deeds of technical daring in the Transcendental Etudes which he programmed in cycle."
"When Liszt transcriptions were being frowned upon, Petri played them and was dazzling."
Posted by: kapelli

Re: Do great musicianship and great technique usually... - 12/04/12 12:47 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: kapelli
Neuhaus claims that technique of Petri was especially weak in octaves (or not so good as the rest). Sofronitzky also had some weak points. But you know, the question about technique on this level of pianists is rather something like:
Can the pianist play each figure at the same immense speed as his competitors (or with one very high tempo)?
Even good pianists have their week points.
I know, that all of them compared to us have great skills, but if you would stand on their level, for sure you would change the point of view ;-)

Of course, you can doubt about Henry Neuhaus thesis and argue with him grin
Petri and Sofronitsky were both world class pianists so I think any claims of weak technique are rather silly. Using just one person's opinion about a single aspect of another pianist's technique is particularly dangerous. If a pianist does not have the technique of a Horowitz, Richter, or Gilels that does not mean he has a weak technique.

On Petri, Dubal says:
"Even in old age his technique remained superlative."
"He was capable of the most fabulous deeds of technical daring in the Transcendental Etudes which he programmed in cycle."
"When Liszt transcriptions were being frowned upon, Petri played them and was dazzling."


That "one person's opinion" is opinion of teacher of Richter, Gilels, Yakov Zak and many many other great pianist. A genious pegagoue, whose book is till today a bible for professors and teachers about correct approach to piano playing on each level.
He was also phenomenal pianist untill he got some kind of injury in his hands.

And, this is not silly. Petri even himself was telling, that his octave technique is weaker in comparison to his other piano skills (he often also played octaves slower then rest of the piece).

Horowitz about Neuhaus:
After Blumenfeld - Neuhaus was the artist, whom I owe most of all.

Of course, as I said, you can discuss with HN, but this is silly for me.