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Topic: Specializing in the repertoire of a composer...  (Read 1848 times)

Offline la_carrenio2003

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Specializing in the repertoire of a composer...
on: August 05, 2003, 09:55:06 PM
Being the piano repertoire so extensive, the pianists always tend to specialize in the repertoire of one of the composers, in a small group of them or in a determinated epoque or style. I know there are different considerations for doing this, but I wanted to focus this forum in this one: there are reknowned artists who play the repertoire of a composer not of his own country -i.e.,Horowitz playing Scarlatti and Mozart,Angela Hewitt playing Bach, etc.- and the opposite situation-Rubinstein and Zimmerman playing Chopin, russian pianists playing russian repertoire,etc.-

Would be interesting read your opinions about:

1. How appropriate is in your opinion that a pianist dedicate his career in playing the repertoire of a composer not of his own country? I think some of you passed through the experience  of playing a composer in his country and being a foreigner in it. It's really scary...

2. What do you think is the tendency worldwide in the present ?

3. Give examples of the both situations, can be very enlightning.

4. What are your own choices about this matter in your own career?
"Soli Deo Gloria".
     J.S. Bach

Offline ned

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Re: Specializing in the repertoire of a composer..
Reply #1 on: August 06, 2003, 12:22:44 AM
There is alot to say on this topic, but just a few examples stand out for me.

Artur Rubinstein,Polish, trained in Berlin, was for many years most famous for Spanish music. He was the first to perform all of Albeniz' Iberia just before World War I, and his audiences would go crazy over Navarra and the Ritual Fire Dance. I heard him in some of this repertoire and it was fabulous! He had a flair for it. Someone called him the "Latino lover from Lodz."

At the other extreme is Alfred Brendel who only plays music by composers who lived within a short distance of his own birthplace in Austria (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt). He made a clear decision not to perform Chopin, the French or the Russians.

Claudio Arrau. a Latin, is most associated with Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, but he played absolutely everything in his day, including Islamey and Prokofiev Toccata.

In the 1955 Chopin competition Fou T'song won the best mazurka prize, to the amazement of those who thought only a Pole can play mazurkas.

it is obviously a matter of personal affinity and aptitude and there are no geographical limits.
Ned

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Specializing in the repertoire of a composer..
Reply #2 on: August 06, 2003, 12:29:15 PM
An interesting topic - in some cases, reportoire chosen must be from another country (e.g. chinese pianists such as Fou T'song or Yundi Li), whereas in other cases (e.g. the Russians) there is much music to choose from from within their country. As for the notion of only Poles being able to play Chopin, and only Russians being able to play Prokofiev, I think this is absurd. However, I often wish there was great English piano music that I could play, but it doesn't seem to exist (although Peter Donohoe is recording obscure British concerti at the moment). Hence Argerich plays Ginastera and De Larrocha plays Albeniz and Granados - they both play Rach 3 though (with contrasting success  :P )
Ed

Offline la_carrenio2003

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Re: Specializing in the repertoire of a composer..
Reply #3 on: August 06, 2003, 09:04:20 PM
  Of course, from our point of view, as pianists, we should be able  to play everything we have affinity for. But I have a certain point talking about some audiences or even juries from international competitions. You see, I lived and studied in the Soviet Union for 7 years. It was hard for us, foreigners, to win the right of playing russian piano music. When I went to the concerts with my russian fellows the most encouraging comment I heard was the next (about a french pianist playing Rach's rhapsody): "It's interesting, not like we play, but we can listen". And I'm not criticizing their points of view: there's certainly an "accent" when you play music not from your own country. Among other things, when I finished the Conservatoire I played Scriabin's 3rd sonata and Rach's 3rd concerto. Learning or playing those works was not hard for me indeed: the hard part was playing "without an accent"-which I achieved after a big effort of my teacher). Of course, I heard about one singer of my country -latina- who won a russian romance's competition in Moskow's Conservatoire, I don't mean is not possible to open minds, but it's hard.

 I attended to a mazurka's conference months ago and the lecturer, for our fun, gave us to listen several recordings and guess about the pianist. And everyone could say who was polish -and who was Horowitz- because there's that "something" in the rhythm that comes from the full understanding of the folk music that everyone of us has from the childhood. Of course everybody loves Horowitz playing the mazurkas but I think I explained my point.

 I have the same Ed's feeling because the repertoire of piano music from my country is not that extensive or interesting. There are classical arrangements of folk music, but until the moment I couldn't play them because I feel that's another matter in aesthetics. Of course I'm good in Bach,Scriabin and Rachmaninoff and I want to specialize in those composers, but there's that desire of playing something absolutely yours...
"Soli Deo Gloria".
     J.S. Bach

Offline ned

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Re: Specializing in the repertoire of a composer..
Reply #4 on: August 06, 2003, 10:57:19 PM
Ed:
I think that the English virginalists, Byrd and Orlando Gibbons,  created fantastic keyboard music. Historically it was the first important body of keyboard music and it has a haunting, unusual sound that makes it sound quite "modern." Glenn Gould made a recording of it on the piano. I myself would like to add some to my repertoire.
But you are right. After the Elizabethans English music got pretty thin. Of course, Sterndale Bennett was much admired by Schumann!!

La-carrenio. I too have been studying with an excellent Russian for many years now. You are lucky to have studied in Moscow. But the Russians do have a definite prejudice about who can play the Russian repertoire. It is a huge compliment to finally get their seal of approval on a performance of Scriabin or Rachmaninoff.

I do not think that any German however would feel that way about Bach, Beethoven or Brahms.

Remember that Gieseking, a German, was the most acclaimed performer of Debussy and Ravel for many years.
Ned
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