Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 751761 times)

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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #780 on: February 10, 2011, 09:53:30 AM »
Not arguing taste, but I think Gulda had plenty left in reserve, was an astonishing pianist technically, and chose to give straightforward and refreshing interpretations. You can hear the same style in his cello sonatas with Fournier and Mozart. I recall you used to like Gulda's style. Why did you like him before and how did you change your mind?

About 15 years ago I decided - after a long Beethoven pause -  to refresh the passion of my youth for this composer, caused by the fact that I inherited Backhaus´ stereo sonata set from my mother. One of the first boxes I acquired was the original Amadeo Gulda sonata set. I was very impressed at first, but being a completist by nature I acquired many other sets - most of them within the last 5 years, and listening to these my idea of these works changed, I gradually realised that Gukda did not have much else to offer than his infallible dexterity. I do not find a degree of poetry or passion in his playing which matches his reputation.

Quote from: Clever Hans
Although there are specific examples of stunning broad interpretations, such as Giulini's eroica, I usually prefer that players follow a composer's indications. 

Composers metronome markings can not be but rough guidelines. Even composers play their own works in different tempi at different times.

Quote from: Clever Hans
Still, I generally don't like allegros played as andantes and prestos played as allegro ma non troppos. Often it transforms the entire character of a piece, usually for the worse. 

Still, I generally don't like allegros played as prestos and prestos played as prestissimos. Often it transforms the entire character of a piece, usually for the worse.

Quote from: Clever Hans
"It does not matter what metronome marking a pianist chooses for this movement providing it sounds Allegro;

Exactly. This is because it is the character and the mood which counts. Tempo is just one of the components which determine the mood of a piece of music. I think tempo steals the attention of many listeners because it is easy to understand and discuss. Topics like articulation is more difficult to understand but equally important in dertermining the mood.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #781 on: February 10, 2011, 10:00:19 AM »
More generally  speed itself is a form of expression.

Obviously, but too much speed results in a rather inarticulate expression - a kind of primate cry.
I do not think Beethoven meant to invite to such primitive effects.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #782 on: February 10, 2011, 11:41:16 AM »
Obviously, but too much speed results in a rather inarticulate expression - a kind of primate cry.
I do not think Beethoven meant to invite to such primitive effects.

Yes -- but whose to say what's too much?

 Hoffman plays Beethoven fast, but I wouldn't say his Waldstien is like an animal cry, becausehe  has complete rhythmic control and he varies the dynamics quite interestingly.

Fast performances can be nuanced. And of course you can gain things from the speed.

One thing  that you can gain is a sense of jaw dropping virtuosity. I like that. I also think it's part of the Beethoven style.

Here's Stephen Beus  in the fugue of the Hammerklavier

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/IA2v7ikyuxg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/IA2v7ikyuxg</a>

Unfortunately Yudina's tempest isn't on youtube.


Another guy who I believe plays Beethoven very fast is Paul Jacobs -- but I haven't heard it (I've just ordered the CD). Anyone know it?




« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:23:05 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline ccar

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #783 on: February 10, 2011, 01:36:01 PM »
Yes -- but whose to say what's too much?

Hoffman plays Beethoven fast, but I wouldn't say his Waldstein is like an animal cry, because he  has complete rhythmic control and he varies the dynamics quite interestingly.

Fast performances can be nuanced. And of course you can gain things from the speed.

Absolutely agree. The tempo is obviously a part of the expressive content. But the question is what you are able to say, be it faster or slower.   


Another guy who I believe plays Beethoven very fast is Paul Jacobs -- but I haven't heard it (I've just ordered the CD). Anyone know it?



Yes, it's a fast one. A live recital and a wild performance. Not with the greatest "technical" command but with many interesting and unexpected ideas - in phrasing, color accents and especially in the variations of tempi he chooses. Regarding the Waldstein, it's curious how he begins with a very fast Allegro (8:51), relaxes immensely in the Adagio (3:45) to create a very beautiful and natural transition to the Rondo and finishes in an uncontrolled Prestissimo. The other Beethoven sonata (No.7 Op. 10/3) is an even wilder reading. For me a very fresh and stimulating musical experience but certainly a shocking example for any purist. Wonderful artist.


Offline dirkronk

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #784 on: February 10, 2011, 01:38:54 PM »
OK, since folks are talking about playing Beethoven fast, yet with expression, allow me to beg once again:

Does anyone...ANYONE...have the Sergio Fiorentino last movement of the Appassionata, done live in some monastery, that used to be readily available on the web several years back? I've been looking to get a download copy of that one forever (didn't have download capacity when it WAS available). Incomplete or not, it was one of the fastest yet most controlled versions I've ever heard.

Hoping...

Dirk

Offline Clever Hans

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #785 on: February 10, 2011, 06:24:51 PM »
I gradually realised that Gukda did not have much else to offer than his infallible dexterity. I do not find a degree of poetry or passion in his playing which matches his reputation.

Thanks for the elaboration.

Composers metronome markings can not be but rough guidelines. Even composers play their own works in different tempi at different times.

But I'm not talking about metronome markings (although the Hammerklavier 138 on half note definitely reinforces a fast tempo, as do the Beethoven quartet and symphony markings). Simply that when a composer says fast, he or she wants it played fast, or moderate he or she wants it...etc
Doing something else needs to be justified with an overwhelming effect (which is why I cited Giulini). Rarely does this occur. Usually it just ends up being ponderous and overstated.   

Still, I generally don't like allegros played as prestos and prestos played as prestissimos. Often it transforms the entire character of a piece, usually for the worse.

I see what you did there  ;) Nevertheless, you avoid my point. When Beethoven says allegro, he obviously did not have in mind Arrau's allegro. Just like Mozart did not envision a clotted mess of his symphonies.

Exactly. This is because it is the character and the mood which counts. Tempo is just one of the components which determine the mood of a piece of music. I think tempo steals the attention of many listeners because it is easy to understand and discuss. Topics like articulation is more difficult to understand but equally important in dertermining the mood.

Yes and no. I agree that tempo is only one element. It is still bad thing to get it wrong. Despite tempo being simple, people screw it up constantly.
Just play the piece as indicated for the love of god. That is almost always the best way.
Yet we often have recordings cited as references when they directly contradict the composer's indications. Surely that makes no sense. 

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #786 on: February 18, 2011, 01:13:51 PM »
This recording of Op 2/1  is intelligent, colourful, elegant, technically excellent, beautifully recorded. The nuances of phrasing are very very nice. It's self effacing without being bland.  Stylistically it is ideal for early Beethoven: the connection to Haydn is very audible to me.

Yet I hate it.

I hate it because Perahia has no spontaneity at all. He’s doesn’t sound FREE. He sounds so controlling and careful.

Listening to it has made me realise that for me spontaneity is probably the musical value I prize most highly.



« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 01:18:00 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #787 on: February 18, 2011, 10:34:49 PM »
Yet I hate it.

I hate it because Perahia has no spontaneity at all. He’s doesn’t sound FREE. He sounds so controlling and careful.

That's silly. This is a very fine recording and the spontaneity is on a very high level. It's the first recording Perahia made after recovering from his hand ailment and the sense of glee is everywhere. 

I can't help wondering if you're using Levy again (overall as a Beethoven interpreter) as your benchmark which means you'll never be satisfied with anyone else. Levy was an island unto himself and should never be placed in a position of 'benchmark'. It's like giving Pogorelich such status. Fun to flirt with, certainly, but simply tooooo far outside the mainstream....
   

Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #788 on: February 19, 2011, 06:09:22 AM »
That's silly. This is a very fine recording and the spontaneity is on a very high level. It's the first recording Perahia made after recovering from his hand ailment and the sense of glee is everywhere. 



Not in Op 2/1, at least not to my ears, though I can hear it's refined. Op 2/3 is much better.


I can't help wondering if you're using Levy again (overall as a Beethoven interpreter) as your benchmark which means you'll never be satisfied with anyone else. Levy was an island unto himself and should never be placed in a position of 'benchmark'. It's like giving Pogorelich such status. Fun to flirt with, certainly, but simply tooooo far outside the mainstream....
 

The place I'm coming from is one of equality of interpretations. All that matters is how well the performance works, how coherent it is etc. I'm not very interested in whether a performance deviates from the composer's intentions, from norms of style, or from conventions about how it should be played, though I can see that those questions have a sort of grizzly academic relevance.  I want to take each recital as a thing in itself. I want to reject your model of mainstream and benchmarks and deviants etc. For me the musician is an auteur who creates his own  poetry in response to a score.

And anyway, I didn't know Levy played any Op 2s. Does he really?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 06:34:06 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #789 on: February 19, 2011, 07:33:00 AM »
Not in Op 2/1, at least not to my ears, though I can hear it's refined. Op 2/3 is much better.

The entire disc is Perahia at some of his very best, and I'm not one to gush.

Quote
The place I'm coming from is one of equality of interpretations.

I'm trying to reconcile this statement with an earlier statement you made:

I just listened to Ernst Levy to remind me how this can sound.

To me this reads like you have a preferred vision in mind in certain works and anything deviating from that vision doesn't measure up. Which isn't the same thing as another performer being "bad".


Quote
All that matters is how well the performance works, how coherent it is etc. I'm not very interested in whether a performance deviates from the composer's intentions, from norms of style, or from conventions about how it should be played, though I can see that those questions have a sort of grizzly academic relevance.  I want to take each recital as a thing in itself. I want to reject your model of mainstream and benchmarks and deviants etc. For me the musician is an auteur who creates his own  poetry in response to a score.

Again, all this spells "personal taste". Which isn't the same as your absolutist statements regarding the Perahia disc.

Quote
And anyway, I didn't know Levy played any Op 2s. Does he really?

I don't know for sure. I didn't make any claims one way or another.

Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #790 on: February 19, 2011, 09:29:08 AM »
Sorry -- this is a hard medium for me to be clear in!

I was trying to move away from the idea that there is a core style of performance which confers a sort of validity on the interpretation.

That's not inconsistent as far as I can see with saying that, e.g. Levy in the third movement of the  Appassionata is better than Rubinstein's 1930s recording because . . .  Or that Perahia's Op 2/1 is not as good as Gould's or Annie Fischer's or Richter's or Schnabel's because . . .

The interesting bit is what comes after the because. I was trying to appeal to idea like spontaneity. I'm not sure how subjective spontaneity is -- but given that you hear it in MP's Op 2/1 and I don't, I'm strating to think it is  ;)
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:57:00 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline RJR

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #791 on: February 19, 2011, 09:46:20 AM »
When Schnabel plays I listen.

Offline RJR

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #792 on: February 19, 2011, 11:41:13 AM »
To Mandryka,
Glad to see that you're still popping in out of this thread on Beethoven's Piano Sonatas. Otherwise I would be chastised for adding a comment-or a cursory remark-to a dead thread. Which, thankfully, this isn't. May it continue to blossom for many more years to come.

I found a link to a short set of comments written in 1950 by Benno Moiseiwitsch on the Grand Style that I thought you might like to read:
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:-gY0kdvAiSoJ:www.arbiterrecords.com/musicresourc

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #793 on: February 19, 2011, 09:53:26 PM »
The interesting bit is what comes after the because. I was trying to appeal to idea like spontaneity. I'm not sure how subjective spontaneity is -- but given that you hear it in MP's Op 2/1 and I don't, I'm strating to think it is  ;)

Yes, that would indeed be a fascinating topic for dissection. Maybe one day when I have months on end to devote to the topic we might just find some morsel of common ground! :)

As it is, I suppose like many things aesthetic 'spontaneity' can be a highly subjective experience. For instance, that Perahia disc immediately following a Ciani performance sand-blasting would indeed seem mighty tame!



« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 08:00:22 PM by Dancing Divertimentian »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #794 on: February 19, 2011, 11:53:54 PM »
While exploring 2/1 a bit I came across a film of a concert Richter gave in Moscow Conservatory Hall on the 10th  and 16th  October 1976. I actually knew about this recital because it's on a Music and Arts CD which I have.

What I was not prepared for was the visceral quality of the music making in the sound track to the film. IMO this sound track is one of the great Richter recital recordings -- something I would never have said about the transfer on Music and Arts. The 2/1 is riveting and (dare I say it?) spontaneous. He plays like a man possessed. Proof if proof were needed that poor sound  can kill the musical qualities of a recording. I had no idea that this was such an exciting record from the M&A.

Anyway, I have ripped the sound to a FLAC file with TotalRecorder. The sound is here in mp3 320kbps -- the FLAC was too big for Mediafire. I haven't split it up yet -- but the 2/1 is right at the start.

The order of play is Beethoven  Piano Sonata  Op.2 no.1;  Schumann  Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op.26;  Beethoven  Bagatelle in  G major Op.126 no.1; Debussy  Prelude Book 1 No.3, "Le vent dans la  plaine" and  Prelude Book 2 No.8, "Ondine":  Rachmaninov  Prelude in G  sharp minar Op.32 no.1;


Be warned: the microphone is close to the piano. And he plays a wonderful steely soviet piano which I think really enhances this music. And there's a little audience noise. And there's  some  background hiss. But your ears soon gets used to the hiss: it's not really a problem.

http://www.mediafire.com/?s3ddm0kqpmbg3



« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 12:21:15 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #795 on: February 24, 2011, 12:47:51 PM »
The other Beethoven sonata (No.7 Op. 10/3) [played by Paul Jacobs] is an even wilder reading. For me a very fresh and stimulating musical experience but certainly a shocking example for any purist. Wonderful artist.

Yes that is one fantastic performance. My initial impression is that I've never heard such a unified reading -- it's as if the fast final movement is an echo of the fast first movement. Wonderful!
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Offline early grey

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #796 on: March 03, 2011, 12:13:33 PM »
            I apologise for interrupting the mood of reverent consideration and appreciation of great performances and maybe this is for george mainly but following on the discussion of a few pages back in which the comparison of several processes of transcription was made possible by a link to the Mediafire pages,  I have collated the samples into one item which you can hear on my website (link below). I also performed a simple analytical test which turned out to prove "not much" ! As I posted on the Schnabel thread, the whole of the "Moonlight" sonata together with the other two in "Volume 4" specifically Op 2 No 2 and "Les Adieux" have been uploaded to the site.
            A propos speeds, as a pianist with just enough skills to get a few bars "perfect" but no more and seeing the very detailed markings in the sonatas, I have always worried about performances that gloss over details such as staccato dots, for example. These feature, for example in the  figuration of bars 12 to 16 of the 1st movement of Op 110 but the marking is " Molto cantabile..." so no problem (provided no pedal is used)  but in Op31 no1's 1st movement, "Allegro vivace", in bars 39 to 43 we also have the 1st and 5th semiquavers ( sorry !) dotted. What is the poor pianist to do? Can you be "lively" at a speed which allows you to make these detailed markings audible or do you just assume that "emphasis" was implied over and above the natural stresses?  The "Allegro moderato" finale of the "Waldstein"  has many full bars of  8 semiquavers (sixteenth notes!) in the left hand, all dotted.
            To add to my woes I have just you-tubed Gulda and Horovitz in the opening movement of the "Waldstein" at bar 29 the chord in the left hand is a crotchet but the use of the pedal makes it last two-bars. This is not good. Since the third movement has detailed markings for the use of the pedal we can assume that LvB knew what he was doing.

http://www.cliveheathmusic.co.uk/transcription_process.php     
« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 10:00:37 AM by early grey »

Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #797 on: March 03, 2011, 12:22:41 PM »
            I apologise for interrupting the mood of reverent consideration and appreciation of great performances and maybe this is for george mainly but following on the discussion of a few pages back in which the comparison of several processes of trancription was made possible by a link to the Mediafire pages,  I have collated the samples into one item which you can hear on my website (link below).
http://www.cliveheathmusic.co.uk/transcription_process.php     

Can you provide a direct link to the samples? I can't seem to find them.  :-\
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Offline early grey

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #798 on: March 03, 2011, 02:14:31 PM »
Click on the link and scroll down, this should do it.

Offline bigshot

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #799 on: April 04, 2011, 10:31:03 PM »
I've posted a short sample of my transfer and restoration of Schnabel's Diabelli Variations here...

http://www.vintageip.com/diabellivariations.mp3

Schnabel's recordings are the hardest to restore because of the slightly distant miking, extreme dynamics and UK shellac with bacon and eggs crackle. I have a lot of theories on how to get the most out of these records without losing the percussive aspects in the low level passages. If anyone is interested, I'll describe my techniques. Some of them are quite different than most people who do this sort of work.