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Non-Urtext Performance Treatise Part II With Live Performance Examples (Read 1690 times)

Offline louispodesta

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Everyone who studied piano, until the advent of the formal music schools, had not one but two teachers. That is why when you read the bios of all the great pianists of the 19th century, they list their piano teachers, and they also list the person under whom they studied theory and composition.

It was expected that if you performed, then you would also be playing your own compositions. Anton Rubinstein, Busoni, Friedberg, Earl Wild, and even Horszowski wrote and played their own music.

Those pianists who were trained in this fashion visualized and heard a piece of music completely differently from the pianists of today. Carl Friedberg could sit in a chair, look at piece of music and then go to the piano and play it from memory.

When Prokofiev premiered his 3rd Concerto in New York, he visited Friedberg's class at Juilliard two days later, where it was performed on two pianos. Prokofiev complimented Friedberg's playing of the second piano part from memory, and asked him how long it took him to learn it. Friedberg replied that was simply the way he had heard it played with orchestra two days earlier.

So, yes, the way 19th century pianists played can be traced directly back to the score because by the time they performed a piece they knew everything structurally there was to know about it. Accordingly, they could hear in their minds ear what the composer was trying to say.

Kenneth Hamilton's book, "After The Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance," comments extensively on how most of the concert pianists of this era all insisted that their students pay meticulous attention to the score, yet none of them played that way.
 
Neal Peres da Costa's book, "Off The Record: Performing Practices In Romantic Piano Playing," has a companion website containing dozens of recorded examples which are cross-referenced on practically every page of his book.

Both of these internationally recognized applied musicologists, who are also concert pianists, extensively lay out the nature and historical validity of these playing techniques. 
 
Finally, enclosed are You Tube links of Peres da Costa in performance utilizing this method of playing.  In addition there are three You Tube performances by Mieczyslaw Horszowski in recital.
 
His first teacher was a student of Karol Mikuli (Chopin) and his second was Theodore Leschetizky.  He was the longest living concert pianist in history having died at the age of 100 in 1993.
 
Peres da Costa
 





 
Horszowski
 



 

Offline birba

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Re: Non-Urtext Performance Treatise Part II With Live Performance Examples
«Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 05:58:37 PM »
Well, i didn't certainly listen to all the examples you posted.  But what i did listen to, didn't really shock me or throw me into a tizzy.  I guess you could say i'm emil sauer's grandchild.  My teacher studied with him.  And the beethoven you posted sounded quite "legit".  No rolled chords or "limping" bass notes.  Beautiful sound and straightforward playing.  The brahms, also, i liked very much.  Except for the second movement which really threw me off.  I just couldn't figure out what the rythm was - and i've played this.  For the rest of it, i found it exuberant and the slow tempi and rubato seemed appropriate.  The leschetisky fantasy you can keep.  When a limping bass becomes the norm, it no longer serves it's purpose.  I think i can say that mozart did NOT want that.  And i can bet you bulow or busoni NEVER played it that way.  So what it comes down to is this:  are we to arpeggiare and "limp" as a rule?  Is this some understood (by the few elect) tradition that should be the norm?  I don't think so.  I DO agree that a rolled chord or a limping bass can be effective at times, and damn the intellectuals who forbid it, but it has to be inspired to mean something.
But your treatise is food for thought and i enjoyed listening to it.

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Non-Urtext Performance Treatise Part II With Live Performance Examples
«Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 06:48:10 PM »
Thank you for your inciteful reply.  Strange, the reason I specifically picked out the von Sauer Beethoven is that you can definitely hear a continual quick roll in the left hand.

If you have time, I suggest you listen to the Horszowki selections.  His mother was a student of Mikuli, and the man played the Beethoven 1st concerto in performance when he was eight years old (1901).

The first selection is of him playing the Chopin E Flat Nocturne at Carnegie Hall, and he just nails it.  The second is of him playing his last recital at the age of 98 in Japan.  He plays the Mozart F Major Sonata K.332, and he sparingly uses both arpeggiation and asynchronization, as in the Chopin.

The final selection is his live recording of the Chopin B Minor, where he improvises a repeat in the Largo.  It is just beautiful.

Thanks once again for your comments.