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Topic: How was Rachmaninoff 'one of the greatest pianists of his generation' ?  (Read 852 times)

Offline happy notes

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How was Rachmaninoff 'one of the greatest pianists of his generation' ?  In other words, what made him so great?  Any thoughts...?
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Offline robertus

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How was Rachmaninoff 'one of the greatest pianists of his generation' ?  In other words, what made him so great?  Any thoughts...?

Well- because he was one of the most skilled pianists of his generation (and of all times). This alone (i.e. his outstanding skill level) would have made him one of the greatest pianist of his times.

Also, he was a good composer. Personally, I regard him more highly as a pianist than a composer, and for me when I hear his music, I am more impressed by the refinement of the treatment of the piano than by anything else.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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https://www.amazon.com/Arrau-Music-Performance-Dover-Books/dp/0486408469
An extract from this book:
"... I thought the sound [Rachmaninoff's] was not very good. And from the standpoint of interpretation, it was appalling. He [Rachmaninoff] didn't seem to care at all what the composer meant."

Lastly, the author states: "though he [Arrau] regards Rachmaninoff as a shallow composer".


No real reason as to why he thought this though. Music is a personal "thing" after all.


In the book 'Conversations With Arrau' by Joseph Horowitz, Claudio Arrau says this :
"Rachmaninoff was a really great pianist, but not a great interpreter, because he made everything into Rachmaninoff. He was a sensation in Berlin after the First World War. I heard a few recitals - it must have been in the twenties. Technically,he was phenomenal. But I thought the sound was not very good. And from the standpoint of interpretation, it was appalling. He didn't seem to care at all what the composer meant. He even added several bars of his own to the end of the 'Funeral March' Sonata of Chopin. You know, once I played the Beethoven 'Eroica' Variations in Chicago and Rachmaninoff came backstage during the intermission to tell me how beautiful it was. He had never heard of the piece before. He was very friendly, very complimentary. But he wasn't even surprised that he had never heard of it! The 'Eroica' Variations!"

It is interesting that Arrau played Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto frequently between the two world wars. That is interesting because, to me, Arrau and Rachmaninoff are the biggest mismatch in the history of piano playing. During that time period, he was often forced to play pieces he did not like because otherwise he would have to starve to death. Today, his easiest-to-obtain recordings are those he recorded for Philips from the 1960s to the 90s. Many of his earlier recordings, which have been re-issued on CD by Arlecchino, Dante, EMI, Pearl, RCA etc., are considerably harder to find.
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Offline happy notes

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Well- because he was one of the most skilled pianists of his generation (and of all times). This alone (i.e. his outstanding skill level) would have made him one of the greatest pianist of his times.

Also, he was a good composer. Personally, I regard him more highly as a pianist than a composer, and for me when I hear his music, I am more impressed by the refinement of the treatment of the piano than by anything else.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, Robertus - much appreciated.  :D

Offline happy notes

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https://www.amazon.com/Arrau-Music-Performance-Dover-Books/dp/0486408469
An extract from this book:
"... I thought the sound [Rachmaninoff's] was not very good. And from the standpoint of interpretation, it was appalling. He [Rachmaninoff] didn't seem to care at all what the composer meant."

Lastly, the author states: "though he [Arrau] regards Rachmaninoff as a shallow composer".


No real reason as to why he thought this though. Music is a personal "thing" after all.


In the book 'Conversations With Arrau' by Joseph Horowitz, Claudio Arrau says this :
"Rachmaninoff was a really great pianist, but not a great interpreter, because he made everything into Rachmaninoff. He was a sensation in Berlin after the First World War. I heard a few recitals - it must have been in the twenties. Technically,he was phenomenal. But I thought the sound was not very good. And from the standpoint of interpretation, it was appalling. He didn't seem to care at all what the composer meant. He even added several bars of his own to the end of the 'Funeral March' Sonata of Chopin. You know, once I played the Beethoven 'Eroica' Variations in Chicago and Rachmaninoff came backstage during the intermission to tell me how beautiful it was. He had never heard of the piece before. He was very friendly, very complimentary. But he wasn't even surprised that he had never heard of it! The 'Eroica' Variations!"

It is interesting that Arrau played Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto frequently between the two world wars. That is interesting because, to me, Arrau and Rachmaninoff are the biggest mismatch in the history of piano playing. During that time period, he was often forced to play pieces he did not like because otherwise he would have to starve to death. Today, his easiest-to-obtain recordings are those he recorded for Philips from the 1960s to the 90s. Many of his earlier recordings, which have been re-issued on CD by Arlecchino, Dante, EMI, Pearl, RCA etc., are considerably harder to find.

Wow, I never knew about this before. Thank you very much for your insights - much appreciated. 🤝

Offline goethefan69420

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His tone...

Idea of structure in interpretation but also playing with such freedom.

Offline happy notes

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His tone...

Idea of structure in interpretation but also playing with such freedom.

Like this answer - really appreciate your feedback !

Offline robertus

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https://www.amazon.com/Arrau-Music-Performance-Dover-Books/dp/0486408469
An extract from this book:
"... I thought the sound [Rachmaninoff's] was not very good. And from the standpoint of interpretation, it was appalling. He [Rachmaninoff] didn't seem to care at all what the composer meant."

Lastly, the author states: "though he [Arrau] regards Rachmaninoff as a shallow composer".


No real reason as to why he thought this though. Music is a personal "thing" after all.


In the book 'Conversations With Arrau' by Joseph Horowitz, Claudio Arrau says this :
"Rachmaninoff was a really great pianist, but not a great interpreter, because he made everything into Rachmaninoff. He was a sensation in Berlin after the First World War. I heard a few recitals - it must have been in the twenties. Technically,he was phenomenal. But I thought the sound was not very good. And from the standpoint of interpretation, it was appalling. He didn't seem to care at all what the composer meant. He even added several bars of his own to the end of the 'Funeral March' Sonata of Chopin. You know, once I played the Beethoven 'Eroica' Variations in Chicago and Rachmaninoff came backstage during the intermission to tell me how beautiful it was. He had never heard of the piece before. He was very friendly, very complimentary. But he wasn't even surprised that he had never heard of it! The 'Eroica' Variations!"

It is interesting that Arrau played Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto frequently between the two world wars. That is interesting because, to me, Arrau and Rachmaninoff are the biggest mismatch in the history of piano playing. During that time period, he was often forced to play pieces he did not like because otherwise he would have to starve to death. Today, his easiest-to-obtain recordings are those he recorded for Philips from the 1960s to the 90s. Many of his earlier recordings, which have been re-issued on CD by Arlecchino, Dante, EMI, Pearl, RCA etc., are considerably harder to find.

Wow! Yes, I myself have listened to Rachmaninoff recordings, I was impressed by the speed, precision and lightness, but also thought the interpretation was surprisingly eccentric and 'lightweight'. However, I dismissed this as symptomatic of the recording technology and performance practices of the time, as well as possible personal or national eccentricities.

One stories (possibly apocryphal) told by my old teacher (who actually met and played for Rachmaninoff) was that he advised his pupils, "If you want to please the audience, just play fast and loud." When I used to teach, I often repeated this advice (and followed it myself!), and it is actually kind of true.,,,

Offline happy notes

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Wow! Yes, I myself have listened to Rachmaninoff recordings, I was impressed by the speed, precision and lightness, but also thought the interpretation was surprisingly eccentric and 'lightweight'. However, I dismissed this as symptomatic of the recording technology and performance practices of the time, as well as possible personal or national eccentricities.

One stories (possibly apocryphal) told by my old teacher (who actually met and played for Rachmaninoff) was that he advised his pupils, "If you want to please the audience, just play fast and loud." When I used to teach, I often repeated this advice (and followed it myself!), and it is actually kind of true.,,,

Wow, really?  My teacher's teacher also played for Rachmaninoff and had him comment on her performance or something. Out of interest, if this isn't too personal, what was your piano teacher's name?

Offline robertus

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Wow, really?  My teacher's teacher also played for Rachmaninoff and had him comment on her performance or something. Out of interest, if this isn't too personal, what was your piano teacher's name?

Will answer this question in a personal message....

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Thereís a story about how he learned all standard rep in a summer lmao

He learned Scriabin 42 5 in two hours and complained about how hard it was

Another one about how he heard a Shostakovich symphony on the radio, transcribed the whole thing and sent it back to Shostakovich with his notes

I heard about how people didnít like him cause he didnít follow the score but literally all pantheon greats ignored the score.  Even if you listen to composers play their own music they be ignoring the score.  Itís literally art just do whatever you want
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline robertus

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I heard about how people didnít like him cause he didnít follow the score but literally all pantheon greats ignored the score.  Even if you listen to composers play their own music they be ignoring the score.  Itís literally art just do whatever you want

Ha, ha! That comment brings me great comfort....that's what I do!
 

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