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[furt-l] R: Art Of Piano

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  • Ponzetto
    Dear Samir, could you please give more details about the documentary (at least the publisher ...) ? Besides, I would like to add some personal comments to your
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 30, 2000
      Dear Samir,

      could you please give more details about the documentary (at least the
      publisher ...) ?

      Besides, I would like to add some personal comments to your posting.

      Paderewski's abbreviated Liszt's Second Rhapsody was taken from the 1936
      movie Moonlight Sonata, which movie was as well featuring Chopin's
      Polonaise opus 53 and, surprisingly enough(-:, the first movement from
      Beethoven's opus 27 no 2. Again I was bewildered by Paderewski's unique
      quality of sound, fascinating against the arguments of his many
      detractors, a sound so beautiful, so luminous and noble, that made a slow
      and a bit sloppy Second Rhapsody more exciting than many Guinness Book of
      Records competing-for versions...

      I suppose you have listened to his recording of the same work on Nimbus
      Grand Piano (NI 8812), but if you have not, you definitely should+ADs- I am
      pretty sure it cannot be called +ACI-slow and a bit sloppy+ACI-, and the sound is
      obviously superb (though I do not know whether the reproducing robot might
      be considered unfaithful+ADs- Nimbus says it is very faithful, but of course
      they are a little biased ...)

      The image we have of our musical culture is very much falsified by the
      preponderance of the studio recordings sold to the detriment of live
      recordings. The end of the first movement of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto
      with Rubinstein, out of a live recording, was different from
      Rubinstein's studio recordings, not only interpretively, but also in terms
      of textual alterations +AFs-...+AF0-

      I am not sure I can understand you on this point+ADs- while I think Furtwaengler
      himself would have claimed that live performances had an added human
      dimension studio recordings were bound to lack (yet, has it not been
      suggested that in his later years, and because of the tremendous
      improvements in recording technique, he came to appreciate recordings more
      and more ? Did he not eventually endeavour to record the whole Ring in an
      EMI studio ?), I do not see why studio recordings should falsify our musical
      culture. Of course they are different from live recordings, but any
      recording should be different from every other, should it not ? Or have I
      just read too much Glenn Gould ? (by the way, I think he was wrong in
      asserting the metaphysical superiority of studio recordings)

      +AD4AWw-WARNING: The following three paragraphs are to be avoided by most
      readers+AF0-

      Well, I hope we are not so susceptible and bad-tempered as to be unable to
      withstand some amiable criticism of artists we like or love (no prizes for
      guessing I like the three of them)

      The Michelangeli sequence reinforced my inner image of a great sculptor in
      ice -- or the shaper of perfect figures of a waxy beauty -- strangely
      resembling his own fastidious (like that of a prosperous barber
      with late studies in pharmacology) cuticular appearance. Such an immense
      pianist, such a commendable musician, such an imperturbably vanquishing
      anything human artist+ACE-

      There is something undeniably truein what you say+ADs- as you probably know,
      there is a fair amount of RAI televison recordings of Michelangeli (Turin,
      1962-63), and his appearance is always imperturbable, somewhat similar to
      that of a marble statue sitting at the keyboard. Whether his performances
      are as glacial is debatable, and I would humbly - and predictably - suggest
      they are not, at least not often and not to my ears.
      A mistake you should not make, though, (and I am not saying you made it:
      melius prevenire quam reprimere) is that of thinking Michelangeli was
      +ACo-naturally+ACo- cold+ADs- he was extremely keen on being controlled, and he thought
      he could not allow himself (nor least of all his pupils) to show flashy
      outward physical signs of emotion: at most, he would move his eyebrows+ADs-
      everything else was only functional to his playing, and he thought one
      played better without moving too much, +AOA- la Glenn Gould (my simile+ADs- I have
      never known what Michelangeli thought about Gould).
      Nonetheless, I sometimes feel and occasionally regret that he was controlled
      in his playing as well: as if he could do something incredible, but
      refrained from doing it because he felt it would be too histrionic. The
      ascetic streak was strong in his life.
      Needless to say, the true faithful - I am not sure I can count myself among
      them - will tell you that the superhuman must needs be inhuman.

      Glenn Gould's sequence didn't bring anything new to my understanding of
      his mastery, except that I noticed that, hard to believe, later in life he
      lowered himself even more (I am referring to the height of the piano
      bench, of course, what did +ACo-you+ACo- believe?+ACEAIQ-). Beyond jokes, I felt again
      Gould, one of the most capable polyphonists in history of playing, could
      be reproached absolutely nothing, except for a weak +ACI-bridge+ACI- between the
      visceral level and his brains (or between impulse and thought, between
      whim and decision etc). It is what I and other music lovers perceive as a
      hypertrophy of the brain and of the sensuous strata, lacking of (not
      being unified by, not being given meaning by) what we, obnoxious
      dissenters, name emotional center or (simply) soul.

      Sometimes, this is precisely what I feel about Glenn Gould+ADs- but I
      tentatively venture another interpretation, which I am far from completely
      believing myself: perhaps we are confusing the +ACI-emotional centre, or soul+ACI-,
      which Gould did not lack and even showed in his playing, with a +ACo-Romantic
      soul+ACo-, which Gould most certainly did NOT have, and which on the contrary
      you rightly admire in your - may I say our ? - favourite musicians, from
      Furtwaengler down (or, if you will, sideways+ADs- I cannot imagine how to go up
      from there (-+ADs- ). Is it not what we should expect from a pianist who refused
      to play Chopin, claimed that Mozart had died too late rather than too early,
      disliked most Beethoven symphonies, and so on ?

      What impressed me the most in this documentary was the Alfred Cortot
      excerpt. His playing, in that so incredibly difficult last piece from
      Kinderszenen, was divine, and his appearance, as a whole, was one of my
      greatest experiences... The man, the voice, the words, the sounds... tell
      me music is a trade+ACEAIQ- There were, among great musicians, some people with
      which their physiognomy itself could pertain to a musician, and to a great
      musician only. Busoni, Furtwangler, Walter... But never, perhaps, in the
      20th century, as with Enescu and Cortot, was a human face so indelibly
      carved by the long- and deep-acting holy waters of music, washing the
      carnal residua and leaving on the distilled spiritual features of an
      aged, enriched figure, burning an uncommonly intense sensuousness into an
      ethereal beauty that gives the human race an opportunity to be rightly
      proud. Superb and hypnotic+ACE-

      May I suggest that this is proof of your being a Romantic ?
      I hope this posting does not prove that I am, on the contrary, a pedantic
      bore.

      Best regards,

      Giacomo

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    • samir ghiocel golescu
      Dear Mr Ponzetto, Thanks for your impeccably gentle answer -- and for expressing your opinions on the quoted artists. Regarding Paderewski: unfortunately, NO
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 1, 2000
        Dear Mr Ponzetto,

        Thanks for your impeccably gentle answer -- and for expressing your
        opinions on the quoted artists.

        Regarding Paderewski: unfortunately, NO piano roll can reproduce the
        unique sound of a great pianist. The Nimbus CDs with piano rolls sound
        well, but in an uniform, not-differentiated manner. Even if some old
        discs have mechanical imperfections, they do represent more faithfully the
        characteristics of touch of a given performer. Paderewski did record
        Liszt's 2nd Rhapsody on disc, and this film is close to the aural
        image given by that disc.

        I'll give you more details on the availability of the documentary in
        Europe if I'll find out some.

        best regards,
        SG


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