Author Topic: Bach on the piano  (Read 72348 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2709
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #600 on: May 08, 2019, 04:38:18 AM »
I was listening to Levit's partitas today, something I've liked very much in the past, but felt something was missing. Like, some voices are given a really soft touch, especially in the sarabands, and this seems kind of linear to me. I went and compared this to Suzuki. Of course on the harpsichord the voices are going to come out more evenly. But Suzuki is even clearer than others, like Mortensen. Actually, the Suzuki almost moved me to tears. Does it seem like there's a lot of temptation on the piano to futz with the voices in a way that sometimes detracts from the content of the music?

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11628
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #601 on: May 08, 2019, 08:49:36 AM »
something was missing.

 What the pianists can't do is have voices cut through each other, interrupt each other. The voices don't intersect, they hover around, or slink around, each other. I don't know why, but they can't do it, I suspect it's a limitation of the instrument. This became really clear to me this week listening to Andersiewski play Well Tempered Clavier.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 08:52:07 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Ghost of Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #602 on: May 08, 2019, 09:07:11 AM »
I was listening to Levit's partitas today, something I've liked very much in the past, but felt something was missing. Like, some voices are given a really soft touch, especially in the sarabands, and this seems kind of linear to me. I went and compared this to Suzuki. Of course on the harpsichord the voices are going to come out more evenly. But Suzuki is even clearer than others, like Mortensen. Actually, the Suzuki almost moved me to tears. Does it seem like there's a lot of temptation on the piano to futz with the voices in a way that sometimes detracts from the content of the music?

I've not heard Levit. I like pianists who avoid the temptation to "futz" with the voices. The best Bach pianists (in my view) used subtle variation in articulation and volume to distinguish the voices without upsetting the balance. Hewitt and Schiff achieve this, IMO.

What the pianists can't do is have voices cut through each other, interrupt each other. The voices don't intersect, they hover around, or slink around, each other. I don't know why, but they can't do it, I suspect it's a limitation of the instrument. This became really clear to me this week listening to Andersiewski play Well Tempered Clavier.

If Andersiewski's (whoever that is) can't do it, that is a limitation of Andersiewski, not the instrument, IMO.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11628
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #603 on: May 08, 2019, 09:39:39 AM »


If Andersiewski's (whoever that is) can't do it, that is a limitation of Andersiewski, not the instrument, IMO.

Well honestly, I don't see that that proposition should is true a priori, just stated bluntly like that it sounds a bit wrong. After all there are all sorts of instrumental effects which you can do on piano but not on harpsichord, which is one reason why piano's better for Debussy. Why shouldn't the same be true the other way round.

The specific harpsichord effect which I never hear on piano is something I used to liken to static electricity sparking from one voice to another, or burrs of metal cutting through a voice. You can it hear once or twice in the prelude here

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/FIdAji209bs" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/FIdAji209bs</a>

What does futz mean?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 09:42:00 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Ghost of Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #604 on: May 08, 2019, 09:48:15 AM »
Well honestly, I don't see that that proposition should is true a priori, just stated bluntly like that. After all there are all sorts of instrumental effects which you can do on piano but not on harpsichord, which is one reason why piano's better for Debussy. Why shouldn't the same be true the other way round.

The specific harpsichord effect which I never hear on piano is something I used to liken to static electricity sparking from one voice to another, or burrs of metal cutting through a voice. You can it hear once or twice in the prelude here

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/FIdAji209bs" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/FIdAji209bs</a>

I only mean that if one person can do it on the piano, that proves the piano can do it. To prove the piano can't do it you have to show that every pianists who ever lived can't do it, and that still doesn't rule out that someone will do it someday

The harpsichord has a different timbre than the piano which can lend itself to more transparency. That is an advantage. I find it hard to listen to, it irritates my ears, and oddly enough the more HiFi the recording the more irritating. A low resolution recording on crap headphones sound best to me.

I liked that YouTube you linked. Hantai, is it? The recorded sound of the instrument sounded better to me that 99% of Harpsichord recordings.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11628
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #605 on: May 08, 2019, 09:59:40 AM »
Maybe you're right, I just remembered thinking that Joanna Macgregor comes very close to a  harpsichord sound on piano in her recording of The French Suites, ironically music which probably wasn't designed with harpsichord in mind! I keep meaning to explore what she does with Bach more closely.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/WRj-gLhi97w" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/WRj-gLhi97w</a>

By the way, just maybe you're listening to harpsichord recordings with too high a volume, I don't know.

It's nice to see inside Hantai's house!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 10:03:17 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Ghost of Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #606 on: May 08, 2019, 10:12:24 AM »
Maybe you're right, I just remembered thinking that Joanna Macgregor comes very close to a  harpsichord sound on piano in her recording of The French Suites, ironically music which probably wasn't designed with harpsichord in mind! I keep meaning to explore what she does with Bach more closely.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/WRj-gLhi97w" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/WRj-gLhi97w</a>

By the way, just maybe you're listening to harpsichord recordings with too high a volume, I don't know.

It's nice to see inside Hantai's house!

I think record labels don’t record harpsichord to my taste. They try too hard to juice it up. I found one of hantai’s proper records (WTC I) and I didn’t like it at all. I wish I could get an album made in his living room.

Offline mc ukrneal

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8834
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #607 on: May 08, 2019, 10:24:11 AM »
I think record labels don’t record harpsichord to my taste. They try too hard to juice it up. I found one of hantai’s proper records (WTC I) and I didn’t like it at all. I wish I could get an album made in his living room.
I generally am not a huge fan of the harpsichord sound. But one interesting thing I noticed going through the Bach box is that there are significant differences from one to the next. I don't think I quite appreciated just how different they can be from one another. The one recording that really stood out in terms of sound was the Kenneth Gilbert harpsichord used on the Well-Tempered Clavier recordings. Wow, what a deep, beautiful sound. I'm not sure if he used the same instrument on all or just some of his recordings, and there were a couple others that had a more pleasing sound on the box, but this one grabbed me immediately.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Ghost of Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #608 on: May 08, 2019, 10:41:10 AM »
I generally am not a huge fan of the harpsichord sound. But one interesting thing I noticed going through the Bach box is that there are significant differences from one to the next. I don't think I quite appreciated just how different they can be from one another. The one recording that really stood out in terms of sound was the Kenneth Gilbert harpsichord used on the Well-Tempered Clavier recordings. Wow, what a deep, beautiful sound. I'm not sure if he used the same instrument on all or just some of his recordings, and there were a couple others that had a more pleasing sound on the box, but this one grabbed me immediately.

I remember Gilbert's recording of the Inventions and Sinfonias and listened to some samples. I was expecting them to be bad because they are early DG digital, but found them attractive. Will have to revisit.

Online Jo498

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4253
  • Location: Germany
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #609 on: May 08, 2019, 10:47:42 AM »
For some reason I found early digital Archiv Produktion usually seems to have better sound that a lot of early digital standard DG, e.g. the early/mid 1980s Bach and Telemann by Musica Antiqua has very good sound, I am not familiar with the harpsichord solo recordings by Gilbert. Probably different teams were involved than in the orchestral/modern piano recordings.

And while my audiophile friends will claim that it might be the fault of the setup and they could be right, I think changing the volume often helps a lot already if the harpsichord sounds annoying.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7275
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #610 on: May 08, 2019, 11:22:23 AM »
Does it seem like there's a lot of temptation on the piano to futz with the voices in a way that sometimes detracts from the content of the music?

Spot on!
Tiden læger alle sår,
heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline JBS

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1441
  • If music be the food of love, play on!
  • Location: USA
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #611 on: May 08, 2019, 12:53:45 PM »

If Andersiewski's (whoever that is) can't do it, that is a limitation of Andersiewski, not the instrument, IMO.



Plus on multicomposer CDs, Partita 2 and English Suite 6,
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 12:56:33 PM by JBS »

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11628
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #612 on: May 08, 2019, 07:33:26 PM »
I generally am not a huge fan of the harpsichord sound. But one interesting thing I noticed going through the Bach box is that there are significant differences from one to the next. I don't think I quite appreciated just how different they can be from one another. The one recording that really stood out in terms of sound was the Kenneth Gilbert harpsichord used on the Well-Tempered Clavier recordings. Wow, what a deep, beautiful sound. I'm not sure if he used the same instrument on all or just some of his recordings, and there were a couple others that had a more pleasing sound on the box, but this one grabbed me immediately.

It’s an old Flemish harpsichord given a pretty serious going over by the French! This sort of instrument was given its apotheosis on record by Anne Marie Dragosits, on this CD - though I should say that I don’t much care for the music there.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 10:02:25 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11628
Re: Bach on the piano
« Reply #613 on: May 28, 2019, 03:56:43 AM »



Really nice little appreciation of this recording, which I think contains a very special Partita 6. It can be done on a modern piano, but you need someone who is touched by a moment of grace like this.

Quote
ROGER WOODWARD AND HIS RECITAL AT THE SENDESAAL (CHAMBER MUSIC HALL) OF RADIO BREMEN


ROGER WOODWARD'S piano recital on January 6th 2007 was not only a memorable highlight of the On Black and White Keys Bremen concert series, it also had a remarkable story. It was just short of a year earlier that the Australian pianist —professor at the San Francisco State University—had first walked onto the stage of the Bremen Radio Studios, on January 18th 2006. He had travelled to the city to record the piano cycle Book of Hours by the Bremen composer Hans Otte. Woodward was replacing the pianist Nikolaus Lahusen, also from Bremen, who had died in 2005 after a long battle with cancer. Eckart Rahn, the head of Celestial Harmonies, had completed a number of CD projects with Lahusen and planned several more, including this recording of Otte's Book of Hours. After discussions with Lahusen's widow Christine, Rahn had finally suggested Woodward as a replacement — a musician I had been aware of but had never heard myself.

This was shortly to change when Woodward came to Bremen, having enthusiastically and thoroughly prepared Otte's engaging cycle. The meeting between Woodward and the Bremen chamber music hall and its Bosendorf 275 concert grand piano was love at first sight. Woodward's immediate comment was: "When my hands touched the keyboard, they couldn't breathe". Hans Otte had selected this wonderful instrument himself in the late '7os during his time as Music Director for Radio Bremen. An excellent pianist, he had a preference for Viennese instruments. Roger Woodward decided immediately on the Bosendorfer over the other instruments available to him. It was not just a matter of the perfect match between music and pianistic sonority, but also an almost metaphysical correspondence between piano,
composer and performer. During the recording sessions Woodward even • spoke to Otte himself to clarify some musical details. Later—after having heard Woodward's recording—Otte characterized him as "He is sensitive but has power; a musical genius". The composer died later the same year, on December 25th, 2007.

The sessions in January 2006 ran without complications and to general satisfaction. On the final day of recording, having completed the cycle, Woodward ran through some of his colossal repertoire just for pleasure. My attention was captivated as he intoned some of Debussy's Preludes. I had never heard Debussy like this: technically masterful, tonally extremely varied and clearly viewed from the perspective of modernism. I remember my spontanious reaction: "When I heard his Debussy, I was in heaven".

For decades Roger Woodward had been an icon of new piano music and had worked with practically all important composers of the day. In his hands Debussy no longer sounded like decadent salon music, it became strikingly modern. I eagerly enquired whether he might like to perform in 2007 in the On Black and White Keys series we were running for Radio Bremen. Woodward accepted enthusiastically, and we soon agreed upon a date and recording sessions on the following three days for both books of the Debussy Preludes. Woodward had also already decided on his programme: Debussy's Estampes and 2nd book of Preludes, Chopin's Mazurkas Op.59 and Bach's 6th Partita as triumphant conclusion. All three composers figure as Woodward's personal favourites, and he consciously avoided arranging them in chronological order. Bach, not only in Woodward's eyes the greatest of all, had to conclude the recital.

When I met him at the train station the day before the concert, Woodward seemed a little tense and under jet lag; after all, he had been flying from the Australian summer with 90°F directly into the German winter.

However, once in the concert hall his nerves immediately settled and he waxed lyrically about the state of his beloved Bosendorfer. Gerd Finkenstein, the internationally acclaimed technician from Hanover, had worked on it and unlocked an even wider spectrum of sonority than it had revealed the year before.

During his rehearsal Woodward wandered around the hall, singing to test and enjoy the superb acoustics of the venue. Built in 1952 with 270 seats, the hall rests in complete but inspiring and dynamic silence. For over so years celebrated musicians of many genres have worked in this magical place, from Nikolaus Hamoncourt to Keith Jarrett and Alfred Brendel. Woodward sensed this great tradition in every corner of the hall and described it as a shrine to music. Since 1990 the hall has also been the home of the On Black and White Keys concert series and has hosted a large number of celebrated pianists, from established stars to  acclaimed newcomers. At 64, Roger Woodward was the oldest debutant in the series, and it was therefore a particular honour to welcome this world-renowned musician to this stage — a legend of the keyboard in the Radio Bremen concert hall!

Just before walking onto the stage Woodward whispered to me "OK, hope I will be in form...". Not only was he in form, he captivated the audience from the first moment. After the opening Estampes, which are not included on this CD for timing reasons, Woodward played the znd book of Preludes as if in one long breath. A journey of thirty or so minutes through a vivid world of sound with a pianist capable of producing the widest range of sonority. In Feux d'artifice, the concluding Prelude, Woodward played the glissando at the end with his fist. A shocking attack with a shocking sound. After the concert the pianist confided that he had learned this technique from his friend, the composer Iannis Xenakis.

After the intermission, Woodward presented the Three Mazurkas of Op.59 by Chopin as a bridge between Debussy and Bach. Woodward belongs to the foremost Chopin pianists of our time and played with consummate ease, balancing rhythm and intimacy. Having studied for many years in Poland he became an admirer of Chopin's music, and even garnered the praise and respect of the great Chopin "pope" Artur Rubinstein. The culmination of the recital came with the concluding 6th Partita by Bach. Its seven movements form one of Bach's most moving piano works and were performed by Woodward with great intensity, meditative immersion and finely chiselled ornamentation. This live performance is even more extreme than the studio recording made shortly before the concert, awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. The Sarabande takes three minutes longer here due to an additional repeat, and the final Gigue is an incredible two minutes shorter than the studio version. The adrenalin of live
performance functions as legal doping with astounding results — how lucky we are that these unforgettable and unrepeatable moments were captured for posterity.

Roger Woodward's live CD from the Bremen Radio concert hall is a document of great, radical and uncompromising piano playing. This is no styled and streamlined greenhorn; it is a musician with the wisdom of many years of experience. One can agree or disagree with Woodward's polarizing vision of music, but he is certainly one of the great pianists of our time. His recital in Bremen in 2007 testifies to this in a forceful manner.


Wilfried Schaper Music Department, Radio Bremen


Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen