Riccardo Schwartz Plays Beethoven

Started by Todd, March 17, 2024, 09:47:49 AM

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Todd




Riccardo Schwartz's LvB sonata cycle is a milestone.  I will just jump to the punchline: this is the worst complete cycle I have ever heard.  For years, my fifth tier has contained the same four names: HJ Lim, Rita Bouboulidi, Tatiana Nikolayeva, and Anne Øland, more or less in that order.  Mr Schwartz blows right on by them.  As much as I may dislike the cycles by the four named pianists, I can at least detect artistic intentions.  Lim was brash, young, full of piss and vinegar, and she wanted to deliver a cycle that shook things up.  Mostly, the cycle just sucks, but it has its moments – Op 57 sticks in memory.  (I had a full cycle summary written up but lost it when my hard drive crapped out.)  Bouboulidi, past her prime, played the fast movements slow and the slow movements fast, but she had a consistent vision.  Nikolayeva, past her prime, dropped notes in a manner that would make elderly Cortot blush, but one could easily hear the serious artistic intent.  Øland, dour, grim, and rough, was very much a serious pianist and artist. 

Schwartz lacks the positive traits mentioned.  Some appalling, mortifying, and ultimately just boring mannerisms appear right in Op 2/1 and pervade the entire undertaking.  Tempi are generally very, very, very slow.  Op 7 clocks in around forty minutes; the opening to 106 takes over fifteen minutes and is the worst ever recorded; and the opening (absolutely not an) Allegro of Op 28 comes in just under sixteen minutes to open just shy of thirty-seven minutes of misery, to offer just three extreme examples.  The sustain pedal almost sounds like it was weighed down with a brick in some places.  Desynchronization of hands can be artful (think ABM), but not here, where it just sounds like the pianist can't play the notes.  Rubato is so extreme and so inane that it moves past distracting mannerism straight to boredom, in the very first sonata.  Pregnant pauses are the musical equivalent of troubled elephant pregnancies.  Big dynamic contrasts mostly sound sloppy and artless.  Phrasing runs the gamut from constipated to diarrheal.  Schwartz demonstrates chops in places, so this musical abortion is purposeful.  Op 10/1 brings this home, with an opening movement possessed of speed and agility, though limited dynamics, only to be followed by a bore-the-listener to death Adagio.  Op 78 further reinforces this by actually sounding decent and having some novel ideas, and both Opp 109 and 110, while not top fifty material, do not sound awful.  (Op 111, however, is a freakin' trainwreck.)  As if the annoying AF mannerisms weren't enough, Op 22 starts off ridiculously slow, moves to quicker playing, then just stops, some Italian blabbering occurs, then the whole thing starts over.  This raises questions about the nature of this project.  Is it an amateur project, like John Kane's openly amateur cycle, just put together shoddily and with far less artistic merit?  Is it a fraud?  Or is it performance art, poking fun at high art in general?  If it is the last, it may succeed in places.  If not, it is one of the greatest failures in the history of art.

As I have noted before, I am a big fan of interventionist playing, but the result has to be not so much "musical" (that word has no useful meaning for me in this context), but music.  After a few sonatas, this cycle tipped over from appalling to just comically bad.  So bad.  I can't possibly offer details on a sonata and movement level basis.  As one sign of how bad this cycle is, I never listened to more than one sonata in a sitting.  Not even Op 49.  That's a new level of bad.  It also took just shy of three months to slog through this disaster.  To put Schwartz's badness into numeric context, his cycle by itself is bad enough to drop the country of Italy from 5th to tied for 13th place with the UK in my ranking system.  This is because I was forced to create a new Sixth Tier just for this cycle.  Seriously, I'll take Gould every day of the week and thrice on Sundays over this clown going forward. 


The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

Brian

OK, after seeing the new rankings list, I had to visit this thread, which I missed at the time while on vacation. Wow! Goodness! You really should have inflicted more of it on yourself, though, because the specific digs and insults here are so juicy.  ;D

I just went straight to the first movement of Op. 22 and listened with incredulity, even though you had accurately described it, to the error-filled first false start, stopping, and Italian people talking with each other, before he started playing again. Hopefully an Italian GMGer can listen and translate for us, but I think I hear Schwartz saying it's too "profane." Leaving this in the track, do they think they're Miles Davis?

The thing that most distressed me listening to Op. 22 and then to Op. 31 No. 3 (I switched midway because 33 is shorter and therefore less punishing) was not the basically ridiculously slow tempi, but the fact that those tempi are unstable. He can speed up for a section...even (sigh) slow down further for a section...but there is no sense or reason to it. He can build up real momentum (Op. 31 No. 3's scherzo has real promise in places!) before killing it because momentum is the enemy. Combined with the separate hands thing, and the occasional wrong note or deliberately shortchanged note length, it feels like slow-motion motion sickness.

I concur in the judgment. This is somebody who could do better, and chooses not to. His biography online says that he was mentored for years by Paul Badura-Skoda, thereby inheriting the grand tradition of Edwin Fischer. I assume it says that because those two men are dead and cannot sue for libel.

hopefullytrusting

Lol. Two of the best reviews I've ever read. Thank you Todd and Brian, as I am still chuckling. ;D

Todd

For no particular reason, I wanted to see what much-vaunted AI could generate regarding the Schwartz cycle.  I opted to use Microsoft Copilot.  I requested it write about "Riccardo Schwartz's Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle".  Here are several outputs. 


Casual, medium:

Riccardo Schwartz, the Italian pianist born in 1986, has made a significant mark in the classical music world with his acclaimed concert cycle of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas. His performance of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, is particularly noted for its clarity and emotional depth. Schwartz's interpretation of Beethoven's sonatas offers a fresh perspective on these classic compositions, combining technical precision with a passionate expression that resonates with audiences. His work contributes to the rich tapestry of Beethoven's legacy, ensuring the timeless relevance of these masterpieces. For those interested in experiencing his performances, there are recordings available that capture the essence of Beethoven's vision through Schwartz's skillful play.


Casual, long:

The Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle is a monumental collection of 32 sonatas that encompasses a wide range of emotions and structural complexity, offering a profound insight into Beethoven's musical evolution. Italian pianist Riccardo Schwartz, born in 1986, has garnered acclaim for his performances of this cycle. His interpretation is noted for its technical precision and emotional depth, capturing the essence of Beethoven's genius. Recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, his rendition of Sonata No. 9 in E major is particularly celebrated. Schwartz's journey through the sonatas is a testament to his dedication to classical music and his skill as a pianist, making the works accessible to a modern audience while retaining their timeless beauty.


"Professional", long:

The Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle is a monumental collection of 32 sonatas that encompasses a wide range of musical expression, technical proficiency, and emotional depth. Italian pianist Riccardo Schwartz's interpretation of this cycle has been met with acclaim, showcasing his remarkable talent and deep understanding of Beethoven's work. His performance of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, is particularly noted for its clarity and nuanced expression. Schwartz, born in Milan in 1986, has established himself as a distinguished interpreter of Beethoven's sonatas, bringing a fresh perspective to these classic works. His performances are characterized by a blend of technical precision and expressive freedom, offering listeners a chance to experience Beethoven's genius through a contemporary lens. The Beethoven Sonata Cycle is not just a test of a pianist's endurance and skill, but also a profound journey through the evolution of Beethoven's musical style, from the classical influences of his early works to the introspective and innovative compositions of his later years. For those interested in exploring Schwartz's performances, they are available for streaming and purchase, providing an opportunity to delve into the rich legacy of Beethoven's piano sonatas.


Suffice it to say, I am blown away by the quality of the output.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

AnotherSpin

Quote from: Todd on March 31, 2024, 09:27:04 AMFor no particular reason, I wanted to see what much-vaunted AI could generate regarding the Schwartz cycle.  I opted to use Microsoft Copilot.  I requested it write about "Riccardo Schwartz's Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle".  Here are several outputs. 


Casual, medium:

Riccardo Schwartz, the Italian pianist born in 1986, has made a significant mark in the classical music world with his acclaimed concert cycle of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas. His performance of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, is particularly noted for its clarity and emotional depth. Schwartz's interpretation of Beethoven's sonatas offers a fresh perspective on these classic compositions, combining technical precision with a passionate expression that resonates with audiences. His work contributes to the rich tapestry of Beethoven's legacy, ensuring the timeless relevance of these masterpieces. For those interested in experiencing his performances, there are recordings available that capture the essence of Beethoven's vision through Schwartz's skillful play.


Casual, long:

The Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle is a monumental collection of 32 sonatas that encompasses a wide range of emotions and structural complexity, offering a profound insight into Beethoven's musical evolution. Italian pianist Riccardo Schwartz, born in 1986, has garnered acclaim for his performances of this cycle. His interpretation is noted for its technical precision and emotional depth, capturing the essence of Beethoven's genius. Recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, his rendition of Sonata No. 9 in E major is particularly celebrated. Schwartz's journey through the sonatas is a testament to his dedication to classical music and his skill as a pianist, making the works accessible to a modern audience while retaining their timeless beauty.


"Professional", long:

The Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle is a monumental collection of 32 sonatas that encompasses a wide range of musical expression, technical proficiency, and emotional depth. Italian pianist Riccardo Schwartz's interpretation of this cycle has been met with acclaim, showcasing his remarkable talent and deep understanding of Beethoven's work. His performance of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, is particularly noted for its clarity and nuanced expression. Schwartz, born in Milan in 1986, has established himself as a distinguished interpreter of Beethoven's sonatas, bringing a fresh perspective to these classic works. His performances are characterized by a blend of technical precision and expressive freedom, offering listeners a chance to experience Beethoven's genius through a contemporary lens. The Beethoven Sonata Cycle is not just a test of a pianist's endurance and skill, but also a profound journey through the evolution of Beethoven's musical style, from the classical influences of his early works to the introspective and innovative compositions of his later years. For those interested in exploring Schwartz's performances, they are available for streaming and purchase, providing an opportunity to delve into the rich legacy of Beethoven's piano sonatas.


Suffice it to say, I am blown away by the quality of the output.

Try to engage in a discussion with the AI and state your arguments. Then ask about Riccardo Schwartz's Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle again. It might be interesting to observe the change. I was able to change AI's response on some issues before.

Todd

Quote from: AnotherSpin on March 31, 2024, 10:41:24 AMTry to engage in a discussion with the AI and state your arguments.

I have discussions only with people.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

AnotherSpin


Todd

The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

AnotherSpin

Factual, quantitative thinking is mechanistic by nature; the people who engage in it are no different from machines.

Todd

Quote from: AnotherSpin on March 31, 2024, 11:29:24 AMFactual, quantitative thinking is mechanistic by nature; the people who engage in it are no different from machines.


The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

Cato

Quote from: Todd on March 31, 2024, 09:27:04 AMFor no particular reason, I wanted to see what much-vaunted AI could generate regarding the Schwartz cycle.  I opted to use Microsoft Copilot.  I requested it write about "Riccardo Schwartz's Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle".  Here are several outputs. 


Casual, medium:

Riccardo Schwartz, the Italian pianist born in 1986, has made a significant mark in the classical music world with his acclaimed concert cycle of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas. His performance of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, is particularly noted for its clarity and emotional depth. Schwartz's interpretation of Beethoven's sonatas offers a fresh perspective on these classic compositions, combining technical precision with a passionate expression that resonates with audiences. His work contributes to the rich tapestry of Beethoven's legacy, ensuring the timeless relevance of these masterpieces. For those interested in experiencing his performances, there are recordings available that capture the essence of Beethoven's vision through Schwartz's skillful play.


Casual, long:

The Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle is a monumental collection of 32 sonatas that encompasses a wide range of emotions and structural complexity, offering a profound insight into Beethoven's musical evolution. Italian pianist Riccardo Schwartz, born in 1986, has garnered acclaim for his performances of this cycle. His interpretation is noted for its technical precision and emotional depth, capturing the essence of Beethoven's genius. Recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, his rendition of Sonata No. 9 in E major is particularly celebrated. Schwartz's journey through the sonatas is a testament to his dedication to classical music and his skill as a pianist, making the works accessible to a modern audience while retaining their timeless beauty.


"Professional", long:

The Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle is a monumental collection of 32 sonatas that encompasses a wide range of musical expression, technical proficiency, and emotional depth. Italian pianist Riccardo Schwartz's interpretation of this cycle has been met with acclaim, showcasing his remarkable talent and deep understanding of Beethoven's work. His performance of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, is particularly noted for its clarity and nuanced expression. Schwartz, born in Milan in 1986, has established himself as a distinguished interpreter of Beethoven's sonatas, bringing a fresh perspective to these classic works. His performances are characterized by a blend of technical precision and expressive freedom, offering listeners a chance to experience Beethoven's genius through a contemporary lens. The Beethoven Sonata Cycle is not just a test of a pianist's endurance and skill, but also a profound journey through the evolution of Beethoven's musical style, from the classical influences of his early works to the introspective and innovative compositions of his later years. For those interested in exploring Schwartz's performances, they are available for streaming and purchase, providing an opportunity to delve into the rich legacy of Beethoven's piano sonatas.


Suffice it to say, I am blown away by the quality of the output.


After reading the above, I was reminded of the line "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," along with certain essays written for the Advanced Placement European History Examination, which I used to correct: they gave the impression that the writer was answering the question, when, in fact, s/he knew nothing about it! 
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Todd

Quote from: Cato on March 31, 2024, 12:39:51 PMthey gave the impression that the writer was answering the question, when, in fact, s/he knew nothing about it!

Indeed, because any person who listens to Schwartz's Beethoven will not encounter a "profound journey".

Also, I've already detected a pattern in Copilot.  It outputs the word "tapestry" with some regularity.  Apparently, its LLM trained on some of the most platitude-laden, vapid sources available.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

Cato

Quote from: Todd on March 31, 2024, 01:13:45 PMIndeed, because any person who listens to Schwartz's Beethoven will not encounter a "profound journey".

Also, I've already detected a pattern in Copilot.  It outputs the word "tapestry" with some regularity.  Apparently, its LLM trained on some of the most platitude-laden, vapid sources available.


Which is why "Artificial Intelligence" is devoid of intelligence!  😇
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

JBS

Perhaps it's profound in the Scriblerian sense of going deep
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Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Brian

Quote from: Todd on March 31, 2024, 01:13:45 PMIndeed, because any person who listens to Schwartz's Beethoven will not encounter a "profound journey".

Also, I've already detected a pattern in Copilot.  It outputs the word "tapestry" with some regularity.  Apparently, its LLM trained on some of the most platitude-laden, vapid sources available.
Ha, this reminds me of a report I saw recently that the use of certain praise adjectives in peer-reviewed papers had increased 11-fold to 17-fold after the introduction of ChatGPT. I can't find that news report anymore because I don't remember the praise words, but I did find an article saying that Google Scholar already has 100+ published papers that include the phrase "as of my latest knowledge update."

Oh, here's the paper (PDF). In papers submitted to AI conferences, the words "commendable," "meticulous," "innovative," and "intricate" are among those that have skyrocketed because the chatbot loves to say them. I note that "intricate" does appear in the Schwartz "review."

Todd

Quote from: Brian on March 31, 2024, 01:39:05 PMIn papers submitted to AI conferences, the words "commendable," "meticulous," "innovative," and "intricate" are among those that have skyrocketed because the chatbot loves to say them.

The adverb "synergistically" is included as well.  It's a red flag when a person earnestly uses it.

Also, it seems ironic that AI disproportionately uses the word "fresh".
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

Propaganda death ensemble - Tom Araya

atardecer

Quote from: AnotherSpin on March 31, 2024, 11:29:24 AMFactual, quantitative thinking is mechanistic by nature; the people who engage in it are no different from machines.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has shown that it is not possible to separate reason from emotion in the human mind.

This gets discussed starting at around 5 minutes into this video:



"In this metallic age of barbarians, only a relentless cultivation of our ability to dream, to analyze and to captivate can prevent our personality from degenerating into nothing or else into a personality like all the rest." - Fernando Pessoa

hopefullytrusting

#17
Quote from: atardecer on March 31, 2024, 05:10:16 PMNeuroscientist Antonio Damasio has shown that it is not possible to separate reason from emotion in the human mind.

This gets discussed starting at around 5 minutes into this video:

More recent work has shown this isn't exactly that case:

"Our data indicate that morality and aesthetics share [...] neuroarchitecture [...] Yet, [it does] not conflate the two judgment types, indicating that the brain differentiates judgments concerning the morally good from those concerning the aesthetically pleasing (p. 492)."

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0010945220301714

AnotherSpin

Quote from: atardecer on March 31, 2024, 05:10:16 PMNeuroscientist Antonio Damasio has shown that it is not possible to separate reason from emotion in the human mind.

This gets discussed starting at around 5 minutes into this video:





It is not difficult to feed AI with nasty wording, after which an AI review of the Schwartz cycle would be indistinguishable from Todd's. Name it "emotion" or something else.

AnotherSpin

Quote from: Brian on March 31, 2024, 01:39:05 PMHa, this reminds me of a report I saw recently that the use of certain praise adjectives in peer-reviewed papers had increased 11-fold to 17-fold after the introduction of ChatGPT. I can't find that news report anymore because I don't remember the praise words, but I did find an article saying that Google Scholar already has 100+ published papers that include the phrase "as of my latest knowledge update."

Oh, here's the paper (PDF). In papers submitted to AI conferences, the words "commendable," "meticulous," "innovative," and "intricate" are among those that have skyrocketed because the chatbot loves to say them. I note that "intricate" does appear in the Schwartz "review."

"Loves"? Maybe AI invented these words? Have you ever come across them in texts written by people? What about the words: "milestone", "punchline", "consistent vision", "mortified", etc. (from the original post)? ;)