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Topic: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works  (Read 3259 times)

Offline m1469

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Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
on: August 06, 2005, 08:51:14 AM
I just happened upon this man's recordings of several Chopin works.  His name is Donald Betts and I think his performances are quite thoughtful and wonderfully mature.  He provides free, full-length recordings of several pieces (you know, just in case you are looking for another recording to compare others with).

https://innig.net/music/betts-chopin/



m1469  :)
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Offline jehangircama

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #1 on: August 06, 2005, 10:43:18 AM
thanks :)
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Offline allthumbs

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #2 on: August 12, 2005, 05:57:10 AM
Greetings m1469

I agree and thank you :)

Cheers
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Offline Barbosa-piano

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #3 on: August 12, 2005, 06:35:50 AM
Thanks m1469, these are great!  ;D
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Offline orlandopiano

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #4 on: August 12, 2005, 06:44:23 AM
I just happened upon this man's recordings of several Chopin works.  His name is Donald Betts and I think his performances are quite thoughtful and wonderfully mature.  He provides free, full-length recordings of several pieces (you know, just in case you are looking for another recording to compare others with).

https://innig.net/music/betts-chopin/



m1469  :)

Thanks for the link, but I have to disagree.  I thought his playing was more thoughtless than thoughtful.  Too many sudden accelerations, uncalled for sforzandos, out of control rubato in places that just don't need rubato... Most of his playing made little sense to me.  I also felt that he played the easy parts too fast and the hard parts too slow- not impressive.  I didn't think he would ever finish the A flat Ballade. That was difficult to listen to.

I didn't listen to the F minor Ballade, but 14 minutes??  What did he take a smoke break in the middle?

With that said, maybe he's seen his better days (he's apparently no spring chicken) so I probably shouldn't be too critical.

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #5 on: August 12, 2005, 01:03:04 PM
I agree. I didn''t find anything that great.

Offline kelly_kelly

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #6 on: August 12, 2005, 09:50:41 PM
  I thought his playing was more thoughtless than thoughtful.   



On the contrary, I thought it was too thoughtful; he took so much time thinking while he was playing that I thought it would never end.
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Offline da jake

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #7 on: August 13, 2005, 05:40:35 PM
Agree with Orlando

I wasn't impressed, but I'm no doubt biased because I've heard Rachmaninov, Cortot, Rubinstein, and about a dozen great pianists play any one of those pieces with far more virtuosity and far more effective musicality.
"The best discourse upon music is silence" - Schumann

Offline stzorfas

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #8 on: August 14, 2005, 03:28:34 PM
I posted Don Betts name a few weeks ago on this site.  I am learning the etude in
A-flat major opus 25 #1.  I love his performance of this piece.  Very expressive.
Nothing wrong with pauses and accelerations if it makes the music sound better.
The melody in the right hand is brought out nicely when he plays it.

Offline orlandopiano

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #9 on: August 14, 2005, 04:09:48 PM
I posted Don Betts name a few weeks ago on this site.  I am learning the etude in
A-flat major opus 25 #1.  I love his performance of this piece.  Very expressive.
Nothing wrong with pauses and accelerations if it makes the music sound better.
The melody in the right hand is brought out nicely when he plays it.

I hadn't listened to 25/1 when I posted my criticisms of Mr. Betts.  And you're right, he does play that piece very expressively and quite beautifully.  But his ballades leave a lot to be desired.

Offline m1469

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #10 on: August 14, 2005, 04:41:17 PM
Wow, I am happy to see this thread picking up.  Yes, I do not necessarily enjoy ALL of his ideas and recordings.  Some better than others for sure.  Happy to see so many different thoughts about this.  I guess it's just interesting to compare recordings with other artists, whether you like the one or not.  As a matter of fact, that's the main point, learning what we like and dislike, I guess.  I was mainly just happy to find something free like this to aid in giving perspective, especially for those people whom may not have any recordings of these works at all.


m1469  :)
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline vininim83

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #11 on: August 16, 2005, 04:33:48 AM
From the site: "The melody that opens the piece is the stepping-off point for all that follows in the next two and a half minutes, but then it disappears, and the music goes somewhere else entirely. Listen for it. The experience of wanting that melody to return, and it not returning and not returning and then ó thatís the force that shapes the piece."

...and it not returning and not returning and then... not returning at alll..  :-X

Offline melquiades

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #12 on: August 19, 2005, 04:30:53 PM
Thanks for the link, but I have to disagree.  I thought his playing was more thoughtless than thoughtful.  Too many sudden accelerations, uncalled for sforzandos, out of control rubato in places that just don't need rubato... Most of his playing made little sense to me.  I also felt that he played the easy parts too fast and the hard parts too slow- not impressive.  I didn't think he would ever finish the A flat Ballade. That was difficult to listen to.

I didn't listen to the F minor Ballade, but 14 minutes??  What did he take a smoke break in the middle?

OK, can I start a flame war?

We live in a time of incredibly virtuosic, incredibly unimaginative performance. The whole classical music world is hopelessly wrapped around the axle with this idea that it's important to play a piece right -- conservatories train it, critics enforce it. Professionals making recordings first make sure that there's nothing to criticize: I've heard famous pianists give very daring and eccentric performances in live concerts, but then record very middle-of-the-road interpretations of the same pieces. Perfectionism is in; risk-taking is out. Contemporary classical pianists, incredibly capable though they are, are overwhelmingly clinical, dull, and self-similar.

And we've become accustomed to this. When we hear somebody really taking risks, interpreting music in a way that's personal and honest, without fear of going outside the narrow bounds of this ingrown little music culture we have, it's positively jarring.

I love Don Betts's recordings. Why? They're bold, intensely personal, and unafraid to take risks. He plays them with complete honesty -- these interpretations are his own, not what he thinks will please others -- and nobody else on earth would play these pieces quite this way. I've heard a zillion recordings of the Chopin ballades, played one, read through all -- and I thought I already knew them. Now I've been jolted out of complacent familiarity. I guess that's an unpleasant experience for some; I find it energizing.

Personal favorites among these recordings: first ballade (love it!), the etude WoO (the voicings!), the Op 62 nocturne (thought this piece was a throwaway until I heard him play it).

With that said, maybe he's seen his better days (he's apparently no spring chicken) so I probably shouldn't be too critical.

Dude, agism is not cool. Can it.

Seriously.

Offline orlandopiano

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #13 on: August 19, 2005, 05:27:25 PM

OK, can I start a flame war?

We live in a time of incredibly virtuosic, incredibly unimaginative performance. The whole classical music world is hopelessly wrapped around the axle with this idea that it's important to play a piece right -- conservatories train it, critics enforce it. Professionals making recordings first make sure that there's nothing to criticize: I've heard famous pianists give very daring and eccentric performances in live concerts, but then record very middle-of-the-road interpretations of the same pieces. Perfectionism is in; risk-taking is out. Contemporary classical pianists, incredibly capable though they are, are overwhelmingly clinical, dull, and self-similar.

And we've become accustomed to this. When we hear somebody really taking risks, interpreting music in a way that's personal and honest, without fear of going outside the narrow bounds of this ingrown little music culture we have, it's positively jarring.

I love Don Betts's recordings. Why? They're bold, intensely personal, and unafraid to take risks. He plays them with complete honesty -- these interpretations are his own, not what he thinks will please others -- and nobody else on earth would play these pieces quite this way. I've heard a zillion recordings of the Chopin ballades, played one, read through all -- and I thought I already knew them. Now I've been jolted out of complacent familiarity. I guess that's an unpleasant experience for some; I find it energizing.

Personal favorites among these recordings: first ballade (love it!), the etude WoO (the voicings!), the Op 62 nocturne (thought this piece was a throwaway until I heard him play it).


You're preaching to the choir.  I am the last person to feel one is not allowed to play a piece slower, more carefully thought out, even if it goes against what is perceived to be the "correct" way to play it.  Just look at this discussion I had earlier in the week. https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,11745.0.html

Now, with that said, there is a big difference between "choosing" to play something slower than normal (for interpretative reasons), and playing it slow because you just can't play it fast. When I heard Betts' playing, I got the impression is was a combination of both, but more of the latter.  The A flat Ballade, for example, had no shape, no direction, even the triumphant, uplifting spots were just wallowing around.  I wouldn't say it was awful (I have heard far worse renditions), but most of the piece sounded like he was really laboring, something you just can't have in a piece like this.

As for my comment on his age, I was just pointing out that he might have displayed more pyrotechnics years ago since, judging from his picture, he seems to be pushing 80. Considering that, he is very impressive.


Dude, agism is not cool. Can it.


Starting a flame war with your very first post on the board isn't cool either.†

Offline melquiades

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #14 on: August 19, 2005, 05:58:18 PM
Now, with that said, there is a big difference between "choosing" to play something slower than normal (for interpretative reasons), and playing it slow because you just can't play it fast. When I heard Betts' playing, I got the impression is was a combination of both, but more of the latter.

I've heard him play other stuff (I know him), and he has plenty of fingers -- certainly enough to play the 3rd ballade faster. (Listen to his C minor etude.) Honestly, I don't like his version of the 3rd ballade as much as I like his 1st and 4th, but it is entirely a choice he made, and we have to respect that decision, not write it off to his age or ability.

I don't care for the 3rd ballade faster, that's for sure. Zimmerman's? Perhiah's? Kissin's? Big yawn for all three from me, I'm afraid -- they toss it off too easily, no wrestling. Haven't yet found the recording of it I really love.

People are way too quick to decide that technique is the reason for a slow performance when they don't like the performance -- I hear that all the time. I think it's part of the reason pianists almost record things played too fast: nobody can criticize their technique. Defending gymnastics is easy; taking an artistic risk takes a lot more chutzpah. I want musicians to take more risks, therefore I do my best not to take cheap shots at them when they do -- and hope to convince others to do the same.

Starting a flame war with your very first post on the board isn't cool either.

I hope that my first post wasn't actually rude or flamebaiting -- there was no ad hominem in it -- I just wanted to get this discussion going.

I do think the original comment about his age was outside the bounds of politeness: condescending and dismissive. I'm sure he would want the artistic respect of you simply saying you don't like the performance, and not backhandedly forgiving him because you think he looks old. That really is genuinely rude.

Offline orlandopiano

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #15 on: August 19, 2005, 07:02:07 PM

I do think the original comment about his age was outside the bounds of politeness: condescending and dismissive. I'm sure he would want the artistic respect of you simply saying you don't like the performance, and not backhandedly forgiving him because you think he looks old. That really is genuinely rude.

Come on now, all I said is he isn't a spring chicken (which means he isn't young). If you think that is "genuinely rude", well, sheesh I am sorry.

We will agree to disagree on Betts. I respect your opinion because you seem to know your stuff and explained your reasoning very well, and I like that you are constantly on the search for the ultimate rendition of pieces (I am that way too).  And I am with you on the A flat Ballade. For some reason, I can't find one that I think truly stands out as the definitive performance of it. It's certainly not mine, lol.

Offline melquiades

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #16 on: August 19, 2005, 07:44:33 PM
Come on now, all I said is he isn't a spring chicken (which means he isn't young). If you think that is "genuinely rude", well, sheesh I am sorry.

It is, though perhaps it doesn't seem so to one who is young.

I like that you are constantly on the search for the ultimate rendition of pieces (I am that way too).

Not the ultimate, exactly, but many ultimates: fresh perspectives that are compelling and moving. But yes, of course, I respect your opinion too -- I only ask that we both respect Don's as a fellow artist, not write him off!

I'm not entirely happy with my version either:
https://innig.net/music/inthehands/2005/03/02/80/
Let's each of promise to keep the other posted when we find a really great one, eh?

Offline chopiabin

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #17 on: August 20, 2005, 12:52:16 AM
What do you guys think of Rubinstein's? I'm currently working on this piece, and since you both seem to have listened to various recordings of it I was wondering if you could point out a few of the better ones that you've heard.


I think Don Betts' recording of the 3rd isn't bad, but I think he plays the piece as a whole a little too slow (it is marked allegretto) and some parts sound somewhat muddled and unclear.

His first ballade has parts I like and parts I don't. There are some parts that definitely need to be way faster and others that are fine as is. About 6 pages in with all the octaves he plays way too slow and it really detracts from the piece in my opinion.

Offline orlandopiano

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Re: Donald Betts : Free recordings of Chopin works
Reply #18 on: August 20, 2005, 04:23:07 AM
I only ask that we both respect Don's as a fellow artist, not write him off!

Well it's not like a called him dreadful. In fact, I posted earlier that I liked his 25/1 etude. He does a beautiful job with that. I just didn't care for the overall shape of his larger scale pieces. His music does have nice breath and I can tell he feels every single note. Most of it is just way too slow, and this is coming from a proponent of slow playing (if you read my discussion linked above).
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