Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 687868 times)

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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4160 on: May 11, 2019, 08:53:18 AM »
You're as wrong as it gets --- the Earth revolves around the Sun, not the other way around.  :laugh:

Still, I say, claim and maintain that recordings have changed forever, yet not automatically for the better, our experience of music.

It seems as though you do not understand the definition of "East," which is essentially the "phi" unit vector in the spherical coordinate system based at the center of the Earth. It is a most convenient frame of reference when describing terrestrial events. The Sun most definitely rises in the East, which is no contradiction to the heliocentric model of the solar system. :)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4161 on: May 11, 2019, 09:09:22 AM »
It seems as though you do not understand the definition of "East," which is essentially the "phi" unit vector in the spherical coordinate system based at the center of the Earth. It is a most convenient frame of reference when describing terrestrial events. The Sun most definitely rises in the East, which is no contradiction to the heliocentric model of the solar system. :)


I'm a mechanical engineer by trade , my friend --- I understand everything you assume I don't understand, and more --- just read Henri Poincaré attentively  --- Still, I say, claim and maintain that recordings have changed forever, yet not automatically for the better, our experience of music  --- I'd rather listen once in my lifetime to Pagainini or Liszt than thirty times to --- whom, name your favorite violinist or pianist ---
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4162 on: May 11, 2019, 09:42:49 AM »
I think I'm gonna start using "I say, claim, and maintain" before all of my opinions.

I declare, state, and insist that I will!

Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4163 on: May 11, 2019, 09:51:52 AM »
I think I'm gonna start using "I say, claim, and maintain" before all of my opinions.

I declare, state, and insist that I will!

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4164 on: May 11, 2019, 11:18:00 AM »
I think I'm gonna start using "I say, claim, and maintain" before all of my opinions.

I declare, state, and insist that I will!

Maybe a Foghorn Leghorn avatar is in your future?

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Online Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4165 on: May 11, 2019, 04:55:41 PM »
Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert -- they never knew, or cared about, ideal recording conditions --- yet they often played in a rich dude's foyer --- I say, claim and maintain that recordings have changed forever, yet not always for better, our experience of music, and I say, claim and maintain that people around 1800 honestly heard in their music things that we are honestly unable to hear in the same music.

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. --- L. P. Hartley

What exactly is your point? Because I'm struggling to understand it. Whether or not those people played live in the foyers of rich dudes completely fails to tell you whether or not they thought the music sounded particularly good in such places, as opposed to playing wherever a rich dude required them to play.

And even assuming that the music did sound good in those foyers when played live, that still tells you precisely nothing about whether or not such spaces are good for recording.

The things that you say, claim and maintain have, as far as I can see, absolutely nothing to do with your starting point. It's undoubtedly true that our experience of music has changed, but what that has to do with whether rich patrons of the 18th and 19th centuries had built spaces with an ear for a science of acoustics that hadn't actually been invented yet, I haven't the faintest idea.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 06:30:37 PM by Madiel »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4166 on: May 11, 2019, 10:37:55 PM »
What exactly is your point? Because I'm struggling to understand it.

Don't waste your time. I can't remember what I was trying to say.  :laugh:
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4167 on: May 11, 2019, 10:42:18 PM »
I often think that listening privately to a recording in one's living room is in some respects closer to the experience of having a musician (or a small bunch of musicians) play the music in a (semi) private salon/living room/foyer than the experience of the modern concert hall. Especially in the case of piano, chamber music and Lieder.

But of course, recordings are different from live music and they change a lot. But there is nothing to be done about that and which aspects of music perception and reception change in which way seems also an open question to me.
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)

Offline hvbias

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4168 on: May 12, 2019, 04:55:09 PM »
Thanks for that, I listened to the 109 and I agree it's rather good.

I relistened to Op. 110, this is another interesting one worth recommending but doesn't quite reach the heights of the truly exceptional performances, I personally prefer the dualing happiness and yearning of the first movement is brought out a bit more (Lucchesini's live recording remains my top choice), but Sherman does something very unusual that I can't describe in pianistic terms, almost like is simultaneously playing legato and staccato at the same time. The other two movements are very good as well.

Because sometimes with this performer the embellishments are intrusive and can sound inorganic, so my attention is inevitably drawn to them.

The ones where he really turns up the rubato, the pauses, the dashing off a random line are my least favorite, like those Op. 2 sonatas I mentioned.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 05:06:39 PM by staxomega »

Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4169 on: May 14, 2019, 09:23:19 AM »
I often think that listening privately to a recording in one's living room is in some respects closer to the experience of having a musician (or a small bunch of musicians) play the music in a (semi) private salon/living room/foyer than the experience of the modern concert hall. Especially in the case of piano, chamber music and Lieder.

This is absolutely true, but there are some fundamental differences as well: you can stop a recording any time, or as many times, you want, and replay it later; you can replace one particular recording with any other, any time, or as many times you want. All of which you could emphatically not do back then --- your current live performance (in which you might, or might not, have taken part) was often your one and only chance to hear this or that particular piece of music. And this simple fact --- which for some (most?) of us means the horror, the horror! --- might have (might have, mind you!) changed everything --- just imagine that you listen to Beethoven's Sonata op. 13 for the first time in your life, and that you're (not even consciously) aware that it might very well be the last. Well, what then?
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 09:24:58 AM by Florestan »
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4170 on: May 15, 2019, 04:16:01 AM »
Lately i have been listening to Charles Rosen's last 3 sonatas. i am not sure if he is a favorite of anyone but to me he hits the spot. I don't play the piano but if I do he would be exactly how i would play these" bold dynamic contrasts, steady but not stiff tempo, and just great sonority from the Steinway.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4171 on: May 15, 2019, 05:08:46 AM »
This is absolutely true, but there are some fundamental differences as well: you can stop a recording any time, or as many times, you want, and replay it later; you can replace one particular recording with any other, any time, or as many times you want. All of which you could emphatically not do back then --- your current live performance (in which you might, or might not, have taken part) was often your one and only chance to hear this or that particular piece of music. And this simple fact --- which for some (most?) of us means the horror, the horror! --- might have (might have, mind you!) changed everything --- just imagine that you listen to Beethoven's Sonata op. 13 for the first time in your life, and that you're (not even consciously) aware that it might very well be the last. Well, what then?
Sure, there are huge differences that came with electronic reproduction. There is a famous text by Walter Benjamin from the 20s or early 30s (Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter der technischen Reproduzierbarkeit/The work of art in the age of technical reproduction) dealing with some these changes. That the artwork loses some of its "aura" etc.

Although I don't know what follows from listening to a piece for the first time and being aware or not that it might have been also the last time, I think this exaggerates the practice. If one was interested at all in music one would have opportunities to listen (or often play oneself) these pieces more than once, except maybe for some big orchestral pieces or operas.

Still, I think it is worth pointing out that with some more "intimate" chamber music the living room stereo is in some respects closer to the historical setting than the concert hall. There are other pieces, like Bach cantatas where almost any experience in the 21st century will be abstracted from the liturgical setting of an 18th century Lutheran service with a long and learned 18th century Lutheran sermon in between and totally different from the historical experience...

But overall it is doubtful what should follow from that. We cannot reproduce the historical conditions and it is doubtful that it would do us any good.
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)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4172 on: May 17, 2019, 08:41:32 AM »
I think one important difference is that back then they focused less on the technicalities of a work / performance and more on the overall impression it made on the audience. Read their reviews, starting with the (in)famous "The Instrumental Music of Beethoven" by ETA Hoffmann. Although he was a composer himself, he doesn't write one single word about tonic-dominant relationships, modulations, cadenzas and other technicalities which make the bulk of most of our CD booklets today; Schumann, ditto; Berlioz, ditto; they write almost exclusively in terms of thoughts, feelings, moods, images and impressions --- nay, they actually wax poetic about them (the only booklets I've read that can compare, albeit palely, are those by Evgeny Sudbin and Fazil Say --- not surprisingly, they are themselves performers, not musicologists). Back then they saw, and appreciated, first and foremost the forest, even at the price of a few trees sacrificed here and there. Today, with our obsession of finding the perfect performance in the perfect sound, the forest is almost negligible, provided all trees are green, tall and regularly aligned.

Witness to this fundamental difference: Cortot and Schnabel. Both were members of the "old guard", both were notorious for their flawed technique --- just yesterday Schnabel was labeled "incompetent" right here on GMG (I'll pass on the competence of that poster to really judge S's competence) --- yet their recordings of Chopin and Beethoven are universally acclaimed as monumental, and all those who praise them do so in terms of artistic, intellectual, spiritual and emotional terns, not in terms of how they negociate tonic-dominant relationships, modulations, cadenzas and other technicalities.

What I ultimately mean is this: comparing at leisure several performances of a given piece in order to find (oftenly minute) differences, or technical flaws, and therefore establish who "owns" it is not what they generally did back then, but it's what we generally seem to delight in doing. And this has been brought about by the advent and the perfectioning of the recording technology and this, I think, is THE most important difference between us and them.

“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline San Antone

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4173 on: May 17, 2019, 08:48:53 AM »
I think one important difference is that back then they focused less on the technicalities of a work / performance and more on the overall impression it made on the audience. Read their reviews, starting with the (in)famous "The Instrumental Music of Beethoven" by ETA Hoffmann. Although he was a composer himself, he doesn't write one single word about tonic-dominant relationships, modulations, cadenzas and other technicalities which make the bulk of most of our CD booklets today; Schumann, ditto; Berlioz, ditto; they write almost exclusively in terms of thoughts, feelings, moods, images and impressions --- nay, they actually wax poetic about them (the only booklets I've read that can compare, albeit palely, are those by Evgeny Sudbin and Fazil Say --- not surprisingly, they are themselves performers, not musicologists). Back then they saw, and appreciated, first and foremost the forest, even at the price of a few trees sacrificed here and there. Today, with our obsession of finding the perfect performance in the perfect sound, the forest is almost negligible, provided all trees are green, tall and regularly aligned.

Witness to this fundamental difference: Cortot and Schnabel. Both were members of the "old guard", both were notorious for their flawed technique --- just yesterday Schnabel was labeled "incompetent" right here on GMG (I'll pass on the competence of that poster to really judge S's competence) --- yet their recordings of Chopin and Beethoven are universally acclaimed as monumental, and all those who praise them do so in terms of artistic, intellectual, spiritual and emotional terns, not in terms of how they negociate tonic-dominant relationships, modulations, cadenzas and other technicalities.

What I ultimately mean is this: comparing at leisure several performances of a given piece in order to find (oftenly minute) differences, or technical flaws, and therefore establish who "owns" it is not what they generally did back then, but it's what we generally seem to delight in doing. And this has been brought about by the advent and the perfectioning of the recording technology and this, I think, is THE most important difference between us and them.

Very well said.   8)

Offline Pat B

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4174 on: May 17, 2019, 02:07:05 PM »
Read their reviews, starting with the (in)famous "The Instrumental Music of Beethoven" by ETA Hoffmann. Although he was a composer himself, he doesn't write one single word about tonic-dominant relationships, modulations, cadenzas and other technicalities which make the bulk of most of our CD booklets today

That does not tell us much about changes in values over time. Record companies don’t always invest in top-quality writing for CD booklets, and it’s relatively easy to find people who can churn out that “then it modulates to the dominant” stuff. Even when they hire a good writer, it’s not necessarily that writer’s best work. Wouldn’t something like The Rest Is Noise be a more apples-to-apples comparison?

On comparative listening and ranking, how common is that for most of us? For me it’s very rare.

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4175 on: May 17, 2019, 11:37:30 PM »
Entirely appropriate though, in a Great Recordings and Reviews forum.  I suppose it's possible to declare a recording 'great' without any terms of reference, but it seems a bit uncritical.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4176 on: May 17, 2019, 11:55:34 PM »
Hoffmann is not quite that untechnical.
There are several mentions of the keys certain passages are in, that the very beginning of the 5th is tonally ambiguous because of the unisono. Later about the 3rd movement he writes: Listen to the modulations, the close in the dominant major chord that is taken by the bass as tonic for the following theme in the minor. etc.
The commentary is not dominated by that stuff, sure, Hoffmann and the others have different goals and they also adress an inhomogeneous audience that would have included capable amateurs who would realize a lot the technical stuff by themselves or might be interested in it and others who would not and wouldn't care. Note that one big point Hoffmann wants to make is that despite the romantic effect Beethoven's music is not fantastically mad but tightly constructed and coherent.

So the intended audience is certainly relevant.
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)

Offline Pat B

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4177 on: May 21, 2019, 04:13:51 AM »
Entirely appropriate though, in a Great Recordings and Reviews forum.  I suppose it's possible to declare a recording 'great' without any terms of reference, but it seems a bit uncritical.

By “comparative listening” I meant listening to a single piece in unusually quick repetition for the purpose of comparing recordings. I’m not saying never do that, but I do think it’s possible to build a frame of reference in a more natural process.

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4178 on: May 22, 2019, 07:25:57 AM »
By “comparative listening” I meant listening to a single piece in unusually quick repetition for the purpose of comparing recordings. I’m not saying never do that, but I do think it’s possible to build a frame of reference in a more natural process.

That is what works for me. I very rarely listen to different interpretations, back-to-back. Mainly I would do it only if the first one was so unsatisfactory I have to wash it away. But when I listen to a familiar piece all of the other versions I am familiar with are lurking in the back of my mind and I find myself noticing how the version I am listening to relates to those others.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4179 on: May 22, 2019, 09:30:35 AM »
That is what works for me. I very rarely listen to different interpretations, back-to-back. Mainly I would do it only if the first one was so unsatisfactory I have to wash it away. But when I listen to a familiar piece all of the other versions I am familiar with are lurking in the back of my mind and I find myself noticing how the version I am listening to relates to those others.

But how can you do that without back-to-back comparisons? Is your memory so prodigious that you remember in detail each and every recording of a given piece that you've heard?
“I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”  --- Rachmaninoff