When a Misstep Enhances A Piece

Posted by: didyougethathing

When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/07/13 09:56 PM

I've been listening to Werner Haas' complete piano works of Ravel for years now, and something that's always intrigued me is a certain area at the very end of the Tombeau Toccata.

Werner Haas Ravel Toccata
(Hover over the album artwork and click play)

It happens in the third-to-last measure, on either the last or second-to-last sixteenth note. There is a "wrong" note, that to me sounds like an A where there should be a B. I haven't pinpointed what exactly is going on, but I absolutely love it. That tiny little change, whatever it is, excites the heck out of me! It greatly enhances my enjoyment of an already amazing piece.

Others probably won't feel the same as I do, but it is strictly my personal preference. Are there examples like this that any of you out there are partial to? Or am I just crazy? grin
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/07/13 10:29 PM

Pianists who happen also to be composers sometimes find issues with other composers' music. I remember one of my own teachers, Leo Smit (also a composer) who altered notes (rarely) in Bach WTC or said he wished some of the pieces had a measure or two ore three more or fewer.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/08/13 05:33 AM

Pianists occasionally misread scores, and perform and record the mistakes without the record producer noticing - or maybe he noticed and decided it wasn't worth correcting...

Even Radu Lupu did that in one of his Brahms recordings (Op.118 I think).

But composers also make mistakes - Ravel in the long final cadenza for his D major Concerto for instance - which most, but not all pianists correct. Jean-Philippe Collard plays that mistake as written by Ravel in his recording.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/08/13 12:06 PM

I find this case interesting, because I'm pretty sure it's just a simple finger slip, not a conscious effort to change the note. For whatever reason I think it adds something special, not the fact that it's a mistake, but the note itself.
Posted by: pianoslacker

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/08/13 04:55 PM

There's been a few times when I've been learning my pieces that I've gotten really excited over what seems to me a particularly daring harmony - then the come-down when I realise I've forgotten about a sharp in the key signature or something. Nowadays if I like a harmony I always double check before I get excited. smile
Posted by: Opus_Maximus

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/09/13 12:17 AM

My old teacher had an eloquently poetic way to describe exactly what you're describing here in this thread:

"It's kind of like when you prepare to say "I love you", to somebody for the first time. In the actual moment, you may be so nervous that when you say it you croak - the words don't come out clearly. This mishap - this mistake caused by your nerves and the vulnerability it reveals - can actually be MORE of a touching, human, and beautiful gesture than if the words came out correctly".


This metaphor of course, only applies to somebody who is totally immersed in their passionate, prepared performance smile
Posted by: quodlibet

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/09/13 01:47 PM

I'm reading Alex Ross's book Listen to This, and in his chapter on Marlboro he writes, of a performance by Mitsuko Uchida, "She also issued a smattering of wrong notes, as if in tribute to Serkin's philosophy of seeking the perfection beyond precision--the truth of the noblest, most honest effort."

I just adored that quote and, since it seemed relevant to this discussion, wanted to share it.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/09/13 02:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
My old teacher had an eloquently poetic way to describe exactly what you're describing here in this thread:

"It's kind of like when you prepare to say "I love you", to somebody for the first time. In the actual moment, you may be so nervous that when you say it you croak - the words don't come out clearly. This mishap - this mistake caused by your nerves and the vulnerability it reveals - can actually be MORE of a touching, human, and beautiful gesture than if the words came out correctly".


This metaphor of course, only applies to somebody who is totally immersed in their passionate, prepared performance smile


Very nicely put! smile
Posted by: Arghhh

Re: When a Misstep Enhances A Piece - 01/09/13 11:44 PM

I don't think this quite what you were getting at in your first post, but there are times where I like mistakes in the music. The end of the third piece in Kreisleriana has, for me, an enraged character. My favorite recording of this is one of Horowitz's, where he missed a lot of the notes.

For example, there this one:
Horowitz at La Scala

The recordings where everything is note-perfect and has impeccable clarity are too clean to convey the character.