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Topic: Which is the better program?-  (Read 2299 times)

Offline shatteringpulse

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Which is the better program?-
on: May 18, 2004, 07:36:06 AM
Which would be the better program for use in competitions/concerts upcoming? And why, of course? (about 75 mins)

L. V. Beethoven: Sonata in A-flat, Op. 110
F. Liszt: Les Funerailles
F. Chopin: Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53
S. Prokofiev: Sonata in A, (No. 6, Op. 82)

OK, and the second option:

L. V. Beethoven: Sonata in Fm, Op. 57
F. Chopin: Polonaise-Fantasie in A-flat, Op. 61
B. Bartok: Sonata 1926
S. Prokofiev: Sonata in B-flat, (No. 7, Op. 83)

I think my first program is a little lighter than the second, which is a very "heavy" one, indeed, but of unabashed greatness in composition!  ;)

Any suggestions as to other works that could be interposed between my own outline, or works that should be taken out for key-relation or other relational reasons? I really want to devise the ultimate competition program of 75 min and 50 min length, for myself. I'm tired of programs I think are second best, objectively.

I was considering looping all three of Prokofiev's so-called war sonatas together, but I think that's just too much. They're my favorite.
--Shattering Pulse

Offline Alp635

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Re: Which is the better program?-
Reply #1 on: May 18, 2004, 08:23:48 AM
Shattering pulse,

I'm in the midst of devising my ultimate competition program as well...

First, which competitions are you interested in entering?  I just finished researching the repertoire requirements for a lot of competitions here and abroad and have come up with these conclusions:

Nearly every competition asks you to play a classical sonata with two etudes, one by Chopin and one by some one else.  This seems pretty standard.  So don't forget to have some etudes...very useful.

I've played the Bartok sonata to much success in the last two years, winning several competitions with it...
Do it, it works.  

I have also noticed that starting out any competition with a huge punch always works.  After competing in some and watching more, I have noticed that if you come out kicking then calm them down with gorgeous playing, it creates a really nice contrast.  So think about how you want to start out, and how you want to balance the program to show you off completely.  

So your programs are unbelievably ambitious...
I think playing the bartok sonata and then Prokofiev 7 is a bit overkill, you don't really want to assault your listeners, and both pieces don't make the greatest contrast granted they are quite different and Prokofiev 7 has a slow mvmt that is really different than Bartok.  

Beethoven appasionata...hmmmmmm
overplayed, and well...I guess it is better than Waldstein.  Do you play it really really really well?  Is it you?  If not, don't risk it.  

If you are set on playing both pieces, you could start out with Bartok, then play Beethoven, Chopin and Prokofiev...that might be nice.  I like the top program, except I Funerailles is not my favorite liszt...

I'm currently working on op. 110 as well, and I think starting your program with it is risky...It is so sublime, perhaps you want to warm in to it, or let your audience warm up to it as well.  YOu don't want peole straggling in the middle of your sonata if they're late, and perhaps it would Be nicer after something like Liszt, or Chopin?  Otherwise, I prefer the lighter program.  

Tell me if this program sounds good?  I'm thinking major internatiional competition in 2 years...I'm starting now!

Compulsory etudes:  Chopin op. 10 #1 and Liszt Harmonies du Soir
Liszt: La leggiereza,
Mephisto Waltz :) overplayed I know, but so much fun!  

Beethoven op. 110
Scriabin 5th piano sonata
Chopin 24 preludes op. 28

Concerti: Schumann Concerto, Rachmaninoff Paganini

Offline shatteringpulse

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Re: Which is the better program?-
Reply #2 on: May 18, 2004, 06:34:45 PM
I was considering a few, mainly: Hilton Head Int'l, Sydeny Int'l, Newport Int'l in Wales, Konzerteun in Athens, Missouri Southern Int'l, and maybe a few others. I've never been one for competitions, much more for music, but I've decided its time!

I'm glad someone finally has told me they have had success with the Bartok sonata. It's very dissonant, and thick-textured, but I think it is absolutely wonderful, because it's like whole strands are being woven together rather an individual notes. I think everybody loves the end of the first movement: the train speeding up, as well as the frequent "rushes" throughout. It's a thoroughly masculine work, to say the least, and a real barnstormer--that's, ironically, why my favorite recording is Martha Argerich!

I do agree Prokofiev 7 and Bartok back-to-back make for a rather modern assault on the listener. And it's here that it is difficult to find the ideal mix of pieces, while at the same time not sacrificing the quality of any of the pieces, and of course making sure that the program is pleasurable for the audience as well. I could insert a piece in between them; ,maybe something by another modern composer--but it has to be something ultimate, because I don't want to sacrifice the objective grandeur of any portion of the program. Conundrums, conundrums...I really love both sonatas...and now I think, that I know somebody has had competition success with Bartok, I'm definitely going to redouble my efforts to bring it up to competition level rather than just recital level. What kind of competitions did you win with it?

I agree with you that the Appassionata is a bit overplayed. I really don't care at all for Waldstein. I was trying to incorporate my favorite sonata from the middle period, but I was also debating whether to include late Beethoven again, say, Op. 109. But Op. 109 doesn't strike me as a supreme work of art like Appassionata. Op. 111 certainly does, but I have a terrible fear of executing it during a recital, nevermind a competition, because of the absolutely threatening second movement, in my opinion. My Appassionata right now is text book, and I think I will take your advice and consider another Beethoven sonata--since someone else is bound to be playing it, and probably making it the center of their onslaught. I think the Prokofiev is the center of my onslaught.  ;) Though I long to play the coda of Appassionata...isn't that one of Beethoven's, or anyone's, best utterances?

I'm great at octaves, hence my selection of the Liszt and Chopin, and they seem to be connected because of the ostinato octave figures, so I looped them together--and their key relationships are perfect to be played consecutively. But I don't think either go well after Beethoven op. 110, at all!  ::)

It's great that you are working on op. 110, as I think it's one of the best of Beethoven's sonatas overall. I started out by loving the last 2 minutes, but then the entire sonata grew on me the more I listened to it, until I had to learn the whole piece. The structure of the final movement is perfectly unique, and this sonata illustrates all the qualities of late Beethoven like no other. Even op. 111, although I do consider that sonata "greater," although I enjoy op. 110 much more.
What's your theory on how the last chord of the work should be sounded? I think this makes or breaks the entire performance of this sonata, and I'm curious what I fellow op. 110 lover believes.

Now to rework those two programs into one, focused, ultimate recital...now about your program.

I love Chopin's first etude. It gives me the impression of containing all the elements of music to come, similar to Bach's WTC No. 1 Book I, and probably because it is in the key of C major. I don't know if you are starting your recital with this, but in any event, it's an excellent stand alone piece and a complete statement. It's supremely risky unless you are right on, though--but if you pull it off, watching your hand go up and down the keyboard for 2 minutes at breakneck velocity is unsurpassed. But just remember Ashkenazy, I believe, practiced this three years before he ever incorporated it into a recital!  :o I love Harmonies du Soir because it is such a broad, painted piece--especially the arpeggiated chords on the second page, I believe, and the other effects toward the end. This is one of my favorite Liszt pieces, and it makes a fine compulsory etude, if not only because it also is not as nauseatingly virtuosic as some of the other ones. But I love virtuosity, so what am I saying? It's such an integral part of Liszt. Perhaps you would consider playing the last four transcendental etudes in your actual recital program? :o

Leggerieza is perfect when it is combined with Mephisto Waltz. And you are correct, Mephisto Waltz is an  entirely overplayed work, but I think it is irrelevent in the case of a competition. The entire point of Mephisto Waltz is to be playful, energetic, and blatantly virtuosic with a few musical themes running through here and there. So, Waltz will be successful so long as you enter into the character of the Waltz whenever you play it in a competition. It isn't meant to be necessarily deep, even in its reflective moments. It's meant to be a showcase and an almost nauseating excursion into the limits of piano technique. Richter once said it was one of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire. So, I belive you will be successful as long as you enter into the "spirit" of Mephisto Waltz. And it is good that you do not start straightway with it, as the etude before provides a introduction, both for you, the judges, and the audience. Liszt writes pieces like Mephisto Waltz so the performer can infuse him/herself into the music. It's a locomotive for the purposes of expressed personality of the pianist. It's lack of musical content just means the personality of the performer must fill up that gap--and that, I believe, if Liszt's intention.

Op. 110 actually goes well following Waltz because of the characters of the two are at odds, both in terms of heaven/hell natures and the profundity or lack of musical content within each. I think this is a great way to show the extreme natures of both pieces. In this sonata, now personality must be largely emptied so that Beethoven can speak purely--and you just function as a mirror. I could discuss this sonata forever, so I won't...

Scriabin's fifth sonata is fantastic. How could a piece not be when the composer himself declared that the final moments are the musical depiction of a sexual orgasm, and that the entire piece is illustrative of a sexual encounter? That aside, this is diabolic piano writing, and clearly meant for a certain individual. I know I would play this horribly, so you must decide if you were meant to play this particular piece, and if you can bring all the elements of Scriabin's difficult writing together. I definitely, believe, however, that this piece should close your recital, which only presents the problem of finding a way to incorporate the Chopin Preludes. The Chopin Preludes are an excellent competition piece so long as you can bring them a sense of unity and freshness, as they are played often and very familiar, if not played as a set often at competitions. The last prelude is an excellent way to end the recital with its three low D pounds, but I think the Scriabin would be much better a way to end the recital. So I would suggest:

La leggiereza
Mephisto Waltz
Op. 110
5th  Sonata

After I hear Scriabin's 5th sonata, I always ask, "What could come after this?" And the answer is nothing, except perhaps the White Mass or Black Mass. I've always wanted to hear a program where overkill aids the music...and the second half becomes Poem of Ecstasy, White Mass, Black Mass, all in a row. But that''s just my fantasy, and I'm an awful Scriabin player.

I think you do need to still consider your overall message in the second half of the recital. I understand the first half: it's contrasting the hellish with the heavenly, with the sublime. But the second half...with just the Chopin Preludes, or even with the addition of the Scriabin sonata, poses problems in terms of what is being expressed. After the first half--what follows after op. 110? I think you need to consider this.

Now I'm going to stop being verbose, and good luck devising your program.
--Shattering Pulse

Offline donjuan

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Re: Which is the better program?-
Reply #3 on: May 19, 2004, 08:31:50 AM
I think it is a great idea to play Liszt- Funerailles along with the Heroic Polonaise because of course, in Funerailles, the tribute (that left hand octave section) is made to Chopin, who died before Funerailles.  I would suggest playing the Polonaise first to show everyone Chopin, and THEN Funerailles to show everyone the legacy of Chopin.  The emotional impact on the audience will be great and you will be applauded.  Who knows? maybe some in the audience will cry.  I know I might :'(

However, both pieces are emotionally and physically draining :P, so maybe have an intermission between.

I dont like the second program as much because, well Im biast (I LOVE liszt!!).  I think you have too many long pieces. (Especially all those sonatas)  How about playing a variety of shorter pieces- especially some fun ;D pieces to change the atmosphere of the concert hall often and keep the audience fresh.  No one likes to sit for a long period and study long sonatas like a student would a textbook.  

Offline Alp635

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Re: Which is the better program?-
Reply #4 on: May 20, 2004, 09:09:17 AM
Shattering pulse,

THat was a great read...I'm such a piano geek...it's summer vacation and I'm bored...anyway, your thoughts are very insightful, and I'm glad for the advice.  THe Chopin Preludes will be used if there is a whole other round so it would stand alone, which I think that set can do.  It is 40 minutes long...

So let's see...I think you're totally right about appassionata/prokofiev duel.  I think if you have too many onslaughts, it will take away from each other.  If everything is molto dramatico, nothing will sound very dramatic...

And to be totally honest......I'm not a Beethoven sonata fan at all.  I should be shot...but maybe it's because i've heard them so often played on student levels that I can't really enjoy them anymore.  I heard Schiff, Lupu and Perhia play Beethoven, all in my top 10 favorite painists and none of them were able to play Beethoven in a way that made me find new freshness.  Maybe my love for Beethoven has been beat out of me by going to music school but, I guess it's just not there...  It's the combination of Beethoven's rigid obsession with structure, a quintessential German grounded feeling and lack of elegance and grace that makes me shy away from pieces like the appassionata.  I don't know, those dramatic interruptions and loud chords...it's dramatic but then it's kind of obnoxious to me.  I just think of some guy beating his chest and it just doesn't move me like it used to.  I used to be such an appasionata fan, but I guess not anymore.  

But op. 110, 111 I agree are still amazing to me.  109 is unbelievable.  THe last chords of beethoven 110?  YOu mean the a-flat major arpeggio rising up ending with the final a-flat chord?  It is the glorious height, an ascendance to Beethoven's ideal of ecstasy and transcendance...(sound fruffy?)  The whole sonata which I have only begun to think about... is passion music to me...rooted in Bach's legacy and it is a story of suffering and then ultimate glory.  Clearly, that is the last mvmt arai and fugue, where the aria sinks into despair, the fugue is the final resurrection, quiet and ethereal at first but then finally bursting out into joy and final ascendance...culminating with the a-flat chord.  This mvmt is a work of pure genius to me.  The first mvmt, I'm still trying to get a handle on it.  SO beautiful.  THis is an example of Beethoven that I do like, maybe because it is ethereal in nature and absolutely haunting...it is a sonata full of colors and ideas that go beyond typical early and late Beethoven, yet it doesn't have the same kind of pompous grandeur or wildly dramatic statements that some of his earlier sonatas have.  Without the slow mvmt of op. 111 to balance the first, I wouldn't like it as much.  

I just got third place in Kingsville international...though it is not so international and not such a big deal.  But I got the special performance prize specifically for playing the Bartok Sonata.  Also a lot of smaller auditions and got into DMA programs with it so it's not bad.  Also, It feels nice to play and it is SHORT.  you get the picture right away, no tedious wind up, just 100% Bartok.  
I don't really like Agerich playing it though...she is abit too overtop and I think there is a whole level of symphonic color and textural interest that she doesn't really capture.  I don't think that sonata is just about a good techno beat... This sonata is so orchestral that a F doesn't necessarily mean a full orchestral F but a solo flute F or maybe a sudden interfection from a single trumpet, but not everything loud.  Especially in the development section.  THe dynamics seem to me more an indication of what textures come to the fore ground and which textures recede.

That's enough of my verbose writing.

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