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 Post subject: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:31 pm 
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Anyone else got horror stories to share? :)

Here, "Jorge Luis Prats plays Wagner-Liszt: Liebestod from Tristan Und Isolde
From: VAI DVD 4414 Jorge Luis Prats in Recital at the Miami International Piano Festival
The astonishing Jorge Luis Prats makes his DVD debut in this stunning live concert from the 2007 Miami International Piano Festival."

Suffice it to say, I was stunned.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UQrOIa7coc

Starts promisingly with the first chord being wrong..

Comparative normality returns for a while, with the pianist showing quite nice sonorities, until near the end of the first minute where hitherto unanticipated harmonies arrive, along with sloppy playing and odd tempo fluctuations, a hint of what is to come.

1.52: pianist doesn't just drop a note, he drops a page and a half!

The best is still to come.

2.48 I actually screamed. The climax is an abject disaster in every manner possible, and the end is full of dropped notes and accidental bass reharmonisations.

If I went to a concert by a big-name pianist and they played like that, I would walk out. I read some of the highly favourable youtube comments and am in disbelief. Having got that out my system, I feel a little better now. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:12 pm 
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This is a case of one being able to hear all the terrible mistakes if one knows the score forwards and backwards, and I know you know this piece well, Andrew. I know it too, but not half as well as you do and so to me it didn't sound that bad. But still, I bet you must feel like stomping right over to that guy's home and showing him how to really play that piece! :)

The only example of horrible playing by a famous pianist that I can think of off the top of my head is when I heard Lang Lang. I know, that's not a big stretch. He mangled Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat, and yet the audience jumped to its feet, applauding wildly. I felt a little sick....

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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:01 pm 
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Agreed that knowing the score well amplifies the perception of the problems. However I was quite aghast by that.

Some of the stuff from Horowitz's 1983 Japan concerts is just horrendous, but the poor guy was heavily medicated and really people should suppress the recordings out of respect.


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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:56 pm 
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Yes, it is shocking when you hear something like that and know how bad the piece is played, yet hardly anyone else does. Have you thought about commenting on the video? I'm a chicken and don't have the nerve to do that. But also, like you said about poor Horowitz - maybe this guy was just having a bad day and never intended the performance to be posted on Youtube. But then again, you said this is on his own DVD so then he did knowingly release it to the world, which indeed makes it shocking.

So now Andrew, you should make your own DVD... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:10 pm 
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I don't mind a few wrong notes as they do happen live, but there are so many of them and to me it just sounds like a woefully unprofessional mess! I did see that a few people had left negative comments which rather gladdened me. I'm sure the pianist isn't himself directly responsible for this seeing the light of day, but his record/DVD company clearly are. I spent about two hours today practising four bars of this piece, analysing how best to break and voice certain chords (four of the bars, incidentally, that he forgot about :wink: ) - maybe that's why I'm so annoyed about such a clumsy performance. Brendel's performances of this piece - don't get me started... hehe.

Any other suggestions? Here's another one, albeit for different reasons.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvJ3721f ... re=related

I'm the last person to be puritanical about these things, BUT his paraphrase of the text from 6.40 onwards left me with mouth agape for two simultaneous reasons: the staggering pianistic capacity and the complete lack of taste! 7.50 especially.


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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:29 am 
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Yikes, horror, how dare such a plodder assault and rape your beloved Isolde :roll: :lol:
Is it really THAT bad, or are you just being overly critical here ? Maybe it's not a model of perfection, I don't know the piece from the inside, but I think he's doing an awesome performance here. Maybe the deviations/cuts are even intentional, who knows.

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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:35 am 
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andrew wrote:
Any other suggestions? Here's another one, albeit for different reasons.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvJ3721f ... re=related

I'm the last person to be puritanical about these things, BUT his paraphrase of the text from 6.40 onwards left me with mouth agape for two simultaneous reasons: the staggering pianistic capacity and the complete lack of taste! 7.50 especially.

I don't see what is so tasteless about it. Sounds like the kind of thing Liszt could have written in an early version of the piece (is there one ?). Not always has good taste first place in his virtuoso pieces. IMO.

What I find tasteless is Volodos' paraphrase of the Turkish March. Then again his transcriptions of Rachmaninov songs, IIRC, are perfectly idiomatic and sympathetic.

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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:24 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Yikes, horror, how dare such a plodder assault and rape your beloved Isolde :roll: :lol:
Is it really THAT bad, or are you just being overly critical here ?


Yes, it is THAT bad. I'm really not interested in playing wrong-note-spotting games, but there are mistakes a-plenty, and the climax sounds like it's been re-paraphrased by Hikari Kiyama. That's before we consider some of the very muddy pedalling (I'm ignoring interpretative aspects because I'm aware of their subjective nature). I'm quite surprised - although there are areas of music on which we don't see eye to eye, I've got respect for your critical faculties, and I think if someone did something similar to a Bach P&F (I'm sure it happens occasionally) you would be similarly offended. Here is someone playing it properly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TUJiZ7tOG0 1000x better. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:23 pm 
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re Volodos: I don't mind him tampering with the more frivolous works like the Hungarian Rhapsodies where the resulting effect is often both impressive and entertaining, but the Dante Sonata is a serious work, even if there is a lot of virtuoso rhetoric in it. The alteration from 6.40 is fairly Lisztian but the one at 7.50 is not and such a tendency to alter things willy-nilly strikes me as a sort of pianistic ADHD, doubly irritating when the rest of his playing is so outstanding. From a compositional point of view, when the ending is supposed to be triumphantly affirming the major, why is he muddying it by adding an Eb to the tremolo?


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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:57 pm 
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andrew wrote:
Yes, it is THAT bad. I'm really not interested in playing wrong-note-spotting games, but there are mistakes a-plenty, and the climax sounds like it's been re-paraphrased by Hikari Kiyama. That's before we consider some of the very muddy pedalling (I'm ignoring interpretative aspects because I'm aware of their subjective nature). I'm quite surprised - although there are areas of music on which we don't see eye to eye, I've got respect for your critical faculties, and I think if someone did something similar to a Bach P&F (I'm sure it happens occasionally) you would be similarly offended. Here is someone playing it properly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TUJiZ7tOG0 1000x better. :)

Yes obviously. One can't tamper with Bach (although I love Sorabji's mischievous take on the Chromatic Fantasy) but Liszt is another matter. I'm sure Liszt would have felt the freedom to go wherever the fancy took him in a performance. I did not hear so much wrong notes here but I don't know the work. At least they did not sound wrong to a casual listener and subjective listener like me. Anyway - I'm glad you found a better one :D

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 Post subject: Re: Shocking performances by famous pianists
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:36 pm 
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techneut wrote:
I'm sure Liszt would have felt the freedom to go wherever the fancy took him in a performance. I did not hear so much wrong notes here but I don't know the work. At least they did not sound wrong to a casual listener and subjective listener like me. Anyway - I'm glad you found a better one :D


I would have struggled to find a worse one. I don't think you can apply that argument for making alterations to all of Liszt's output.
Surely something like the B min Sonata should be sacrosanct; who cares what you do with stuff like the Grand Galop, and there are varying degrees of grey for other music. I'd argue his Liebestod transcription is in effect a very high-quality piano reduction: it's done with great care and attention to detail, so any alterations the pianist makes should be extremely judicious. {Btw, confession time, I have two misreadings to iron out.} For example, there is a case for removing the first four bars (though I've never heard it done) which are Liszt taking ideas from elsewhere and tacking them onto the start of the aria, presumably for dramatic reasons. It's bordering on pedantry but as it was quite amusing, I'll mention once witnessing a perfectly amicable but quite lengthy argument over the second last chord of bar 47; Liszt's chord and Wagner's harmony not matching there, and I prefer to use Wagner's chord. Wholescale re-writing I just don't believe in when Liszt has been unusually scrupulous in his re-expression of another man's work; on the other hand when it's a free fantasy like many of his paraphrases are, then why not allow a bit of personal recreativity as long as it fits stylistically.


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