Bravo!!!! This is the most ambitious undertaking I've heard in my 3 year tenure here! The 24 Preludes are truly a monumental undertaking for any pianist - professional or amateur. Personally, I find that these works are a good measure for any pianist, both musically, and technically - Perhaps even a "Holy Grail" of pianistic achievement, IMHO! I don't know whether you're professional, student, or amateur?... It will be difficult to comment without knowing anything about your background because Preludes like Nos. 8, 12, 16, 19 are not for amateurs.
Thanks for the compliments, George, and for your candid assessment. I appreciate that. I agree that there is always need for improvement, although not really in the same way you do perhaps (more on that in a bit).
In answer to your question, I'm fully an amateur who made the conscious decision in my teenage years not to bother with going into music, basically because I wanted to eat :mrgreen. And both my parents being classically conservatory trained pianists, my eyes were pretty open from a young age. I had the privilege of taking from a student of Cortot in college whom I learned much from technically and musically.
However, there are places where there's room for improvement in terms of musicality. No. 24 too fast to savor the pathos, too flip in the left hand, ending is awkwardly disjointed (I thought you were going to give up on the last 2 Ds). Nos. 16, and 18 showed liberties with addition of extra notes at the end. No. 12 was a bit rushed at the end. I didn't listen to all of them, but I notice that on the melodic slower Preludes, there is greater need for musical maturity, e.g. Nos. 4, 6, 15, 17, 20, 21. More sensitivity to touch needs to be implemented, and in certain parts erratic and exaggerated rubato takes away from the performance.
You may very well have some point here, but if I can also be frank, comments like this are part of why I would never in a million years have wanted to go into playing the piano professionally. It has little to do with my ego; I always welcome specific criticisms and put myself in the position of a student who has much to learn. It has more to do with the fact that I find these rather vague assertions that "critics" throw around to be meaningless crap, usually because they want to champion their personal favorite and denigrate everyone else (i.e., rather unobjectively). To illustrate, when you say that Prelude No. 24 is "too fast to savor the pathos," I frankly have no idea of what that means or whether the words even go correctly together. Literally, that would say that you find this piece as principally evoking sympathy and compassion. Perhaps we just have different conceptions of it. I personally find Cortot's description of it as "Blood, Passion, and Death" to be more fitting. To me, it is a tale of martial bloodlust brought on by war and final collapse on the battlefield represented in those final D's, and should thus be rather heroically impetuous.
The liberties I take with adding extra notes at the end? It's just octave doublings and chord fillings. My personal choice, I like the fuller effect more. And thank god I don't have to listen to cheese-sniffing critics pointing it out to me. "Unfaithful to the score! Unfaithful to the score!"
Regarding rubato, this is very much a matter of personal taste. In the modern day, one hears it, and it's usually poorly applied IMHO. Maybe it is in my case too, but I did work it out and make conscious decisions about it. Again, without more explanation, this means little to me.
As for musical maturity, that may be, but again, I have no way of even knowing what you mean. IMHO it seems a matter of courtesy to someone on a forum you are exchanging messages and ideas with, when you take issue with something, to explain why. The point really is that such things could be said about any
body's playing, even the greatest of the great, who IMO aren't great because they played it a standard way but because they played it in a new way, which is why Kissin, Pogorelich, Argerich, Ashkenazy, Garrick Ohlsson, as fluid and perfect as they are, will never interest me and I will never think they're great. (Ohlsson is one who I remembered sounding very slow and labored to me on No. 24 -- just my opinion of course.) It's all bland and boring and the same. Cortot and Sofronitsky are a different matter. I would certainly never begin to put myself even remotely in the league with any
of the above. I only say it to point out that I'm a bit sick of people vaguely criticizing my "musicality
," which is all that really matters to a pianist in the end (technique being a means to an end) and may largely be a matter of taste, without feeling the need to explain themselves further. But then, if you're the type who likes Kissin's or Pogo's moonings and strainings, we're probably doomed to never agree on these matters anyway. I have carefully thought through my interpretations for these. Not what you were expecting perhaps, but c'est la vie.
Sorry for me also to be a bit blunt in my reply, but I think it's better to be honest (and a good thing about PS) rather than hold it in. Thanks again for the compliments and your advice about recordings etc. I respect your comments about musicality but, even upon relistening, don't really understand them.