András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata

Posted by: Jaak

András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/16/13 03:59 PM

Hi everybody,

You can see no picture but the information can be very interesting and devastating for some maybe?? smile

LINK HERE

Best wishes,
Jaak
Posted by: timmyab

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 07:47 AM

I think he's right about the first movement tempo.He plays slightly slower in his ECM recording which is just about spot on.
I don't like to hear it played right through with the dampers raised though.I could do it on my digital no problem, but not on a modern grand in a bright acoustic, it sounds terrible.

Posted by: FarmGirl

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 09:57 AM

I enjoyed the recording. It was both beautiful and insightful. He is like a scholar. Thank you. Just one question. I thought master class involves getting student play the piece and he/she receives feedback from the teacher, usually well known or an acclaimed pianist like him. Just wondering. Perhaps there are many variation of it.
Posted by: Tararex

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 12:43 PM

I almost fell out of my chair listening to this explanation.

This piece frightens the daylights out of me and I've always semi-jokingly referenced it as Beethoven's Stalker Murderer Sonata.

Instead of Moonlight it's more: Stealthily follow "problem" into the woods. Quietly track problem into lonely territory. Hide and wait for pursued to double back. Problem solved and dragged to hiding-hole. Walk out of woods - not exactly pleased with what occurred - but satisfied it had to be done.

I've even explained to others that to me it's Beethoven walking into the woods with a Moirai but only one walks out alive.

Now I have ammunition against years of ridicule from friends and family and their 'You fool, this is a romantic piece!' mockery.
Posted by: floydthebarber71

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 01:27 PM

Originally Posted By: timmyab
I don't like to hear it played right through with the dampers raised though.I could do it on my digital no problem, but not on a modern grand in a bright acoustic, it sounds terrible.


He did explain the 'issue' of sustain of modern pianos and that he plays it with the pedal 1/3rd the way down? Unless I missed something smirk
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 03:49 PM

The whole set of lectures on Beethoven's sonatas here:
http://music.guardian.co.uk/classical/page/0,,1943867,00.html
Posted by: timmyab

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 04:37 PM

Originally Posted By: floydthebarber71
He did explain the 'issue' of sustain of modern pianos and that he plays it with the pedal 1/3rd the way down? Unless I missed something smirk

It's still far too much dissonance for me.
Posted by: Cinnamonbear

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 08:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Tararex
[...] This piece frightens the daylights out of me [...]

Instead of Moonlight it's more: Stealthily follow "problem" into the woods. Quietly track problem into lonely territory. Hide and wait for pursued to double back. Problem solved and dragged to hiding-hole. Walk out of woods - not exactly pleased with what occurred - but satisfied it had to be done. [...]


Well said, Tararex! Consider your impression validated!

I am playing the first movement in church on Sunday for "special music." Scripture reading and sermon topic: Psalm 23, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no ill..."

Several thoughts: I remember the ideas in Schiff's lecture were brought out in discussion when Carey posted his rendition of the first movement a while ago. I also recall an "artist in residence" lecture at the John Deere Center in Moline, IL, sometime in the 70s, in which the pianist said she believed the movement is often played too, too fast, and went on to play it at a ponderously, ponderously slow pace. I *also* recall Valentina Lisitsa, last year in recital, introduce the first movement as a funeral dirge. That did not square with my understanding of it, at all! (Though she did play an exceptionally cogent third movement...!)

Personally, I think this piece is hard to wreck, no matter how it is played. If you get in bounds, it is incredibly deep music that accepts a wide range of tempi and interpretation. Argue all you want about the pedalling--play it on a pianoforte if you want (fine by me! I'd love to hear it!)--but this piece is Die Hard, 1801: Suspense! Comedy! Action! "I cried. I laughed. I cheered. I want to see it again and again!"

--Andy

Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/17/13 09:52 PM

I was hoping for something more insightful from Mr. Schiff.
Posted by: Tararex

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/18/13 12:03 AM

@Plowboy
Thank you for posting this link. I've listened to the first two - they were quite interesting.

@Cinnamonbear
I agree that the piece survives tempi and interpretive adjustments like few others. But isn't this is true of much of Beethoven's work? Schiff noted in his first lecture some composers (Mozart) wrote so "unfriendly" that the smallest change brings everything crashing down. He stated that Beethoven was musically friendly - but really didn't explain why. String musicians certainly didn't think LVB was musically friendly.

Music students - what makes the difference in elasticity? As a neophyte I thought perhaps working the edge of accepted tonality would make pieces fragile but it was Beethoven who worked the edges, not Mozart. What should I be looking at?

I don't agree with Lisitsa's funeral dirge interpretation. I've read where descendents of Julie Guicciardi insist Moonlight is a funeral march. If so, why would LVB dedicate it to a young woman? (No, I refuse to go there.) Also, using a slower tempo lightens the suspense instead of making it darker as would be expected from a dirge. Beethoven would not make that sort of error.

On further thought - handing over a piece of subliminal stalker fantasy to a pretty young "you can't have that" makes some sense. Perhaps it was best not everyone "got" Beethoven in his own time or the 19th century equivalent of a restraining order may have been ordered.

Kindest,
Julie
Posted by: Cassiesmom

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/18/13 04:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Tararex
I almost fell out of my chair listening to this explanation.

This piece frightens the daylights out of me and I've always semi-jokingly referenced it as Beethoven's Stalker Murderer Sonata.

Instead of Moonlight it's more: Stealthily follow "problem" into the woods. Quietly track problem into lonely territory. Hide and wait for pursued to double back. Problem solved and dragged to hiding-hole. Walk out of woods - not exactly pleased with what occurred - but satisfied it had to be done.
.


okay. well i just laughed out loud at your description of the "Stalker Sonata". unexpectedly hilarious.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/18/13 05:53 AM

Does Schiff play the Hammerklavier at Beethoven's metronome markings (which is very fast not just for the first movement but also the slow movement, which in most pianists' hands is of Schubertian 'heavenly length', but not if played at the metronome marking), like HJ Lim does in her recording?

Whatever you think of her interpretations, at least she is consistent, following what Beethoven wrote. She also plays the Moonlight (1) very fast with pedal down.

If Schiff doesn't, then he is basically just picking and choosing what he wants to do - like most pianists.....
Posted by: Cinnamonbear

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/18/13 10:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Tararex
On further thought - handing over a piece of subliminal stalker fantasy to a pretty young "you can't have that" makes some sense. Perhaps it was best not everyone "got" Beethoven in his own time or the 19th century equivalent of a restraining order may have been ordered.


Truly hilarious, Julie! laugh I am still wiping the tears from my eyes. grin I would generalize from your point, too, that it takes imagination to open up *any* piece of music.

As far as Mozart goes, here is a thought that was expressed in the Tuner/Tech thread the other day by PW member DoelKees, commenting on a recording of someone's performance of a Mozart Sonanta, in which the tuning of the instrument was in question. DoelKees commented:

Originally Posted By: DoelKees
When I listen I am more concerned with the excessive tempi and the seriousness of the playing. After all Mozart was a silly drunk, and his compositions show it. It should not be played as if it was profound. (Warning: peculiar personal opinion.)


As far as tempi elasticity, I'd say as one who pushes the lines one way or the other pretty often (and misses the mark often, too, so take this for what it's worth, which is not much), it seems to me that each piece has a tempo "sweet spot," -- a living pulse to be found organically through the whole of the melodic lines, harmonic structures, and dynamic arcs, etc. Allegro-ish. Largo-ish. Andante-ish. Presto-ish. Of course, some people can get a piece to work by making the piece come to heel by sheer force of will. But sometimes a piece really opens up its meaning to you when you give it some slack, finding that sweet spot, which might be either faster or slower than you have been taking it, or even as marked.

--Andy
Posted by: Tararex

Re: András Schiff Masterclass - Moonlight Sonata - 01/18/13 12:37 PM

***After all Mozart was a silly drunk, and his compositions show it.***

I have to agree with exception for his Operas and a handful of truly great pieces. Considering his output and abilities there should be less fluff and more wow. But yes, the modern need for interpretive change from silly drunk ditty into "serious piece" is a discussion in itself.

I'm at early intermediate level and attempted some of M's training pieces last year. Discovered for the greater part they were uninspired or uninteresting in development. It's difficult to learn from pay-the-bill toss offs.

I now use Beethoven's trifles and sonatinas (and started Sonata 19 Gm, Op49.1 this week) almost exclusively as training material. Only B manages to fire-hose theory and technique while maintaining inspirational beauty. The man put as much thought into the easy as he did the difficult. My appreciation for LVB has increased tremendously since beginning this piano journey.

I'm at a loss as to why Beethoven bagatelles sound great played at any tempo and even missing a few notes. Oops laugh. The only other pieces I've come across with this ability are from Handel and to a lesser degree, Haydn and Purcell. Must find answer!

I'm only capable of a rough Moonlight but both fingers and ears insist on a faster tempo - so I agree there is a sweet spot. But now I'm curious as to why the snail pace is favored. Audience expectations?

Are there other Beethoven (or well known others) pieces with this type of argument?

Rantings from a curious mind,
Julie