Though there is another thread regarding the relative value of Master Classes, I feel that the general tenor of the opinions there was that they are of little value. If we accept that only pianists who "know the piece" should be performing a work for critique, then the master class is more about interpretation, philosophy, cultural context, performance practices, variation among manuscripts and published editions, sometimes about "procedural technique" (a term I use to describe variable mechanical applications to particular passages in the assigning of pianistic resources), and on rare occasions even correction of mistakes. I love the Master Classes of Jorge Bolet that can probably still be seen on YouTube. As a graduate piano student twice at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) of the University of Cincinnati, I had regular opportunity (in fact requirements) to both perform at and attend Master Classes conducted by the faculty or visiting pianists. These were a wonderful way to be introduced to literature I may not have known and to gain insights into interpretation or performance practices. Was it all good? Mostly so, but when a highly respected, admired (by me too) and accomplished Master performer of the faculty argued that the crossed thumbs at the opening of the Schumann G minor sonata was necessary
to the sound the composer wanted, I had had enough and determined what my thesis would be on: "Procedural Technique," which is another way for arguing the ultimate significance of the piano score: directions for input or symbol of sonic output. Obviously I hold the later. I also remember the great master class that I attended by Rosalyn Turek on Bach (of course), and my scores of the Goldberg Variations and the WTC among others, still show notes that I captured as she spoke, and these I treasure. Sometimes a piano student needs to hear something from a 3rd party before they may acknowledge its legitimacy (are there any other hard heads out there?
), or in fact receive assurance of their ideas. Many of us had to perform Jury Exams during our preparation, and those were also the source of valuable fresh critiques. Having said all this, I now observe that the PS Forums provide a virtual master class of sorts to those of us who submit recordings (and boy with all the comments I have already provided in my short tenure, I will have plenty of trepidation when I submit again
). So to the degree that we all provide inteligent and considered commentary on our colleagues, I think we are demonstrating the value of "Master" Classes. Having opinions by many folks can often help place ideas in context and perspective. So here is to all my juror colleagues!