Piano Forum



A Massive Glimpse Into Ligetiís Pianistic Universe
Performing Ligetiís complete Etudes is a challenge for any pianist. Young pianist Han Chen has received both attention and glowing reviews for his recording of the entire set for Naxos. We had the opportunity to speak with the pianist after his impressive recital at the Piano Experience in Cremona last fall. Read more >>

Topic: Isn't it funny...  (Read 1450 times)

Offline xvimbi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2439
Isn't it funny...
on: September 22, 2005, 06:47:30 PM
The recent surge of posts about Lang Lang prompts me to ponder two particular trends that invariably surface when talking about a performer or a performance:

1. People who criticize somebody's (mediocre) playing are usually labelled with negative attributes, whereas those who praise somebody's (mediocre) playing are usually labelled with positive attributes.

Yet, both camps may be off by the same margin and may be equally ignorant.

2. A mediocre performance by a young person (such as LL) is usually tolerated, defended and even praised, whereas a mediocre performance by an old eminent pianist (such as Brendel) is usually ridiculed. I guess, that's because the old pianist has seen better times, and the young one might see better times (or might not).

Yet, shouldn't a performance ideally be independent of the direction of a performer's career? Shouldn't it be judged as it is, not what has been before and what might happen afterwards?

Isn't that funny?

Offline m1469

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Isn't it funny...
Reply #1 on: September 22, 2005, 07:22:02 PM
Actually, I do find it interesting.  I suppose it has mostly to do with expectations.  Younger pianists are expected to ripen into masters, and those whom have ripened into masters... well, where do they go from there ?  I think most of those types of expectations are based on the premise that an individual reaches his/her full potential at a somewhat isolated period of time in their life and in an isolated kind of way.  The younger ones are still expected to move into their fullest potential, while the more mature are expected to move out of it (which does not make much sense to me... why continue living after a certain point ?). 

In some aspects, today's mediocracy is yesterday's excellence.  There are many phenomenal players these days of all ages and races.  What was once considered spectacular and rare, is not quite so anymore.  So there becomes a different context in how a pianist gets judged by the people.

As far as judging a performance as an independent occurance, I think it is theoretically ideal, but fundamentally impossible.  There is always some kind of context and some kind of ideal involved when it comes to "judging". 

If the idea is to stop accepting mediocracy altogether (which I feel is your actual point), whether it could ever happen or not, I more so just don't see how to go about it.  Whose standard sets the tone for mediocracy or excellence ?  Maybe we should just stop judging ?  I am not sure that would lead us out of mediocracy.  Also, independently accepting a person's best efforts as excellence, because that is the best they could do on that day at that time, is not necessarily avoiding mediocracy either. 

Maybe in the end all we have is mediocracy... LOL (I think I need to get more sleep).


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 allthumbs

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1632
Re: Isn't it funny...
Reply #2 on: September 22, 2005, 07:28:24 PM
Greetings

The recent surge of posts about Lang Lang prompts me to ponder two particular trends that invariably surface when talking about a performer or a performance:

1. People who criticize somebody's (mediocre) playing are usually labelled with negative attributes, whereas those who praise somebody's (mediocre) playing are usually labelled with positive attributes.

Yet, both camps may be off by the same margin and may be equally ignorant.

I can't argue too much with you here. Sometimes however, two opinions may arise from witnessing the same performance. One critic will praise it while the other pans it. What were they listening for, what reference was used in their method for judgement?


2. A mediocre performance by a young person (such as LL) is usually tolerated, defended and even praised, whereas a mediocre performance by an old eminent pianist (such as Brendel) is usually ridiculed. I guess, that's because the old pianist has seen better times, and the young one might see better times (or might not).

This statement reminds me of a concert that I went to by Andres Segovia at Massy Hall circa 1975. At the time, he was in his early 80's. I went because I was an advanced classical guitar student and he was my idol. He chose a fairly safe repertoire for his concert. Gone were alot of the repertoire that made him a brilliant guitarist. His technique was a little slower, less assured.

But I didn't care much, he was a legend and the repertoire he did play was beautiful.  

While it was obvious, he was past his prime, I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear him live and in concert.

The critics were kind for the most part and they did point the above out.


Yet, shouldn't a performance ideally be independent of the direction of a performer's career? Shouldn't it be judged as it is, not what has been before and what might happen afterwards?

Isn't that funny?

True, I guess on an impersonal note, but haven't legends of that status earned some slack, if they don't play the "virtuso" repertoire as much anymore?

Just a thought. :)


Cheers


allthumbs


Sauter Delta (185cm) polished ebony 'Lucy'
Serial # 118 562

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7554
Re: Isn't it funny...
Reply #3 on: September 24, 2005, 02:22:05 AM
It is so much easier to criticise than to actually do.

Lang Lang makes more people who listen to him happy than not. It seems that he is doing extremely well selling out concerts everywhere making a good living. However people like to criticise and try to bring down, it's the tall poppy syndrome. Imagine if he was an unknown, someone playing in a shopping centre. What would you think then. It is because he can command the big stages that some people envy his ability and then say, well its not the best so how on earth can he have such opportunity! Is everyone is stupid?

I think you should only be allowed to criticise if you ARE better than they are, not HEARD better or THINK there is better. And even if you THINK you are superior (you can never KNOW because it is all opinion afterall) in ability then you should remain very humble.

One realises how hard it is to make a living out of music and how much of a journey it is. Those who take music as their job, their life long pursuit will adore to watch people on their own personal journey. They will wish the greatest sucess, even if they play in a manner you are not in total acceptance of. I personally have a disgust for critics who have HEARD it all and KNOW it all can't DO a thing themselves and find pleasure in saying, good but not as good as so an so. Comparison is futile when listening to someone produce music, but an unavoidable reflex for most people.

There is nothing wrong with saying, I liked the peformance. You don't have to say I LOVED IT. Some people feel that as soon as they say I liked it they are giving in, or something ridiculous like that. perhaps they feel their critical musical ear is not powerful if they don't criticise. So if they can criticise it boosts their self worth.


[Yet, shouldn't a performance ideally be independent of the direction of a performer's career?]

Isn't peformance a peformers career? How can it be independant? A musicians career is different, it can be of both the academic and peformance. But a peformers career is all peformance you cannot seperate it, or am I missing something?

"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.pianovision.com

Offline leahcim

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1372
Re: Isn't it funny...
Reply #4 on: September 24, 2005, 02:33:05 AM
Isn't that funny?

Yes. Similary, if I like C/B/M/Ba et al , that's ok. Few say "but you don't understand his music ergo you are an ignorant buffoon leahcim and so you liking it means nothing at all"

Whereas, if I don't like some dissonant noise like, well we know which piece, and express that then I'd be told that's because I am an ignorant buffoon who doesn't understand it.

Which begs the question whether C/B/M/Ba are composers that wrote a bunch of simple music that any buffoon like myself can understand and thus like - or whether that piece really sounds as bad as I think. Or can I be educated to like it, and if so, why don't I need educating to enjoy the others?

Offline xvimbi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2439
Re: Isn't it funny...
Reply #5 on: September 24, 2005, 02:40:04 AM
It is so much easier to criticise than to actually do.

Lang Lang makes more people who listen to him happy than not. It seems that he is doing extremely well selling out concerts everywhere making a good living. However people like to criticise and try to bring down, it's the tall poppy syndrome. Imagine if he was an unknown, someone playing in a shopping centre. What would you think then. It is because he can command the big stages that some people envy his ability and then say, well its not the best so how on earth can he have such opportunity! Is everyone is stupid?

I meant it in a completely general way. I used LL only as an example. So, again:

Two people are judging a performance, which is mediocre. One person says it's crap, and the other person says it's phantastic. Both are off by the same margin. Why is the 'praiser' more accepted than the 'basher', given the fact that they are both equally ignorant?

Quote
I think you should only be allowed to criticise if you ARE better than they are, not HEARD better or THINK there is better. And even if you THINK you are superior (you can never KNOW because it is all opinion afterall) in ability then you should remain very humble.

I guess we should then just do away with all football coaches, managers, presidents, etc. Oh wait a sec, the last one is actually true!
 
Quote
Isn't peformance a peformers career? How can it be independant? A musicians career is different, it can be of both the academic and peformance. But a peformers career is all peformance you cannot seperate it, or am I missing something?

I meant a performance should be judged independent of you is playing, how old they are, what skin color they have, what piano they play, etc. It should be judged by its own intrinsic merits, not by some extraneous, irrelevant piece of tidbit.

Did I really express my thoughts that unclearly?

Offline leahcim

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1372
Re: Isn't it funny...
Reply #6 on: September 24, 2005, 03:31:53 AM
I meant a performance should be judged independent of you is playing, how old they are, what skin color they have, what piano they play, etc. It should be judged by its own intrinsic merits, not by some extraneous, irrelevant piece of tidbit.

Did I really express my thoughts that unclearly?

No, but it's not going to happen. I'd have said some of the criteria should be dismissed as prejudical, like skin colour etc.

That's not the same as judging a performance based on criteria like how long the performer has been playing [but folk tend to focus on the age of the performer - there's rough correlation, but yeah, it is funny that a 32 yo who was playing for 5 years that played advanced repertoire wouldn't be considered as astounding as a 13 yo that had taken 10 years to do the same, we don't have an accurate picture of what children can do perhaps?] or the sound the piano makes. Putting them in the same list implies you think they are, but I'd say not.

It'll depend what context you're judging it in too - it'd be a bit silly to fail all grade 1 pianists because you didn't take into account their level of playing would it not?

So why can't Lang Lang's relative immaturity [if it's the case], be a factor in the way his playing is judged? Having potential and judging someone's potential is as important as reaching your potential and judging how well someone has fulfilled their potential.

Of course, you can argue for thread after thread whether lang lang has fulfilled his potential and thus what we hear is the best it's going to get, or still has bags of potential to show so better is yet to come - as well as judging what his current performance is like.

But that's floating away from your original premise that if you're nice then you can be wrong and get away with it - but by creating a thread mentioning it that makes that not the case, so the reason you didn't see it before is because you had to post it first :)
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert