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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:31 pm 
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Phillip Johns wrote:

I cannot comment on the Op.23 No. 6 because I have not played it. However, I do know what rubato is and that very difficult to transcribe on paper....

Ah yes, rubato. I may be very wrong, but I don't think I have ever seen that for the last [two] measure[s] of a piece, rather: ritardando, ritenuto, morendo, a niete, smorzando, etc. However, the important question here is, "Is such direction for individual notes regardless of their rhythmic value, or for the pulse within which the notes are organized?" I believe the second. They are about the tempo, not the rhythm. [Only 43 years for me. :cry: ]

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:13 am 
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musical-md wrote:
Phillip Johns wrote:

I cannot comment on the Op.23 No. 6 because I have not played it. However, I do know what rubato is and that very difficult to transcribe on paper....

Ah yes, rubato. I may be very wrong, but I don't think I have ever seen that for the last [two] measure[s] of a piece, rather: ritardando, ritenuto, morendo, a niete, smorzando, etc. However, the important question here is, "Is such direction for individual notes regardless of their rhythmic value, or for the pulse within which the notes are organized?" I believe the second. They are about the tempo, not the rhythm. [Only 43 years for me. :cry: ]



Sorry, I was not talking about that piece. I should have made that clear.


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:19 am 
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Hi Eddy,

Regarding the last measure of the Rachmaninoff Prelude, Op. 23, No. 6, the ritardando in the previous measure needs to carry through to a noticeable degree into the last arpeggiated chords with a pedal change for that last measure. But where the composer gave short notice of the rit., I don't believe it can be over-expressed. I recorded this prelude (and several others) in 1989, so the recording process was analog. As we get older and look back on earlier recordings, we think of ways we might play the piece differently today. In my case I believe I would take out some of the tautness and allow the music to breathe more freely. Which now makes me think that at some point, I should go back and relearn and re-record those pieces. Anyway, getting back to the last arpeggiated chords, I'm still satisfied with the way I approached them back then. If you'd like to hear how I did it, as one example of the possibilities, here is the link:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.ph ... 904.0.html

Music is always better than words when one is trying to describe an effect.

David

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"Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities." David April


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:40 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
Hi Eddy,

Regarding the last measure of the Rachmaninoff Prelude, Op. 23, No. 6, the ritardando in the previous measure needs to carry through to a noticeable degree into the last arpeggiated chords with a pedal change for that last measure. But where the composer gave short notice of the rit., I don't believe it can be over-expressed. ... Anyway, getting back to the last arpeggiated chords, I'm still satisfied with the way I approached them back then. If you'd like to hear how I did it, as one example of the possibilities, here is the link:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.ph ... 904.0.html

Music is always better than words when one is trying to describe an effect.

David


David, I agree with the way you approached the last chord (and I found at least 2 famous pianists on You Tube who perform it as an arpeggiated-chord instead of a slowly-rising arpeggio: Sorel and ?(I forgot)). I agree that the ritardando should continue in the last bar, but the rhythm should be appreciable, and I believe yours was. If you rework this wonderful piece, I would recommend a greater contrast between the hands. When I first started working this piece in late September, I viewed the last half as as secondary in importance because structurally it is a loooooong coda. But I have become MUCH more enamored with the last half the more I have studied the piece.

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:41 pm 
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Posts: 243
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Phillip Johns wrote:
musical-md wrote:
...A principle that I exercise regarding the boundary is that of reciprocity. If a perfectly capable musician were to take dictation of the work I am performing, he or she must come up with the score that the composer has written...

Is the purpose of making music so that someone can "dictate and transcribe" it back on paper perfectly to the original manuscript or it is to take the musical idea on the paper and place it (by pressing the keys of the piano in the proper order) in the minds of those listening?


These are deep questions. Of course the purpose has nothing to do with dictation. Yet Eddy's notion of reciprocity makes a valuable point.

The purpose I think is to communicate something to the listeners, to make them feel or think something. What we can debate endlessly is whether we're trying to communicate exactly the composer's intentions, or whether it's legitimate for the performer to do something different. I don't want to get into that here (it deserves a thread of its own), but I hope we can agree that the starting point is to know what the composer wanted. From that beginning, we can then decide whether to be "faithful" or whether to "interpret" the work.

So where does this reciprocity come in? In order to get the notation down on paper, the composer made some choices. We generally assume that those choices are deliberate, not accidental. For instance, if one bar contains a minim (half note) and another bar contains a crotchet (quarter note) followed by a crotchet rest, we assume that the composer wanted those two things to sound different. Since pianists traditionally use the pedal, the precise nature of the difference is debatable; there won't necessarily be a literal crotchet's worth of silence for the rest. But there should be some difference in duration, or maybe articulation or tone, which tells an alert listener that there was a difference of notation. I'm sure we can all think of many more examples of the same principle.

In other words, this thought experiment--imagining our listeners transcribing the music--reminds us that attention to detail is an essential part of artistry.

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Alexander Hanysz, http://hanysz.net


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:34 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
Phillip Johns wrote:
musical-md wrote:
In my opinion, nothing that I wrote contradicts you. The music is behind the paper score, but we are to interpret the composer's ideas not invent new ones, as I give in my example above: that work ends on the second beat. To play it as if it ends at the start of a next measure is to supply one's own idea, not one's own interpretation. IMO. (Here we are using "idea" to mean what the composer wants, and "interpretation" to mean what the the performer wants.) Also, there are two "music making." One is the creation by composing. The second is the re-creation by interpretive performance. Here, I am speaking as a performer, but as one who has also composed. Anyway, I just wanted to share my opinion on the limits of interpretation being constrained by the principle of reciprocity. Believe me, there is plenty of interpretive freedom and novelty in such. :)


My purpose was to discuss this issue not try to contradict. I do not feel that I have ever had the ability to reproduce completely a composer's manuscript after listening to a performance. This may be because I am not a musical professional, but also because of the limitations in the ability of a composer to apply the real musical intent to paper.

That is just another way to convey my point, that there is a musical idea that is placed on the paper by the composer which by the limitations inherent in that alone, allows much musical creativity in interpretation.


We agree entirely! Music is an immediately-perishable and transcendant art that is encoded by a composer on paper in a limited way. The score is not the music; "music," rather, is that that exists behind or through the score in the ephemeral. I too could never transcribe a work as an auditor, but using my Rachmaninoff example above, I could play/interpret it many ways, but I think only a few would render you to catch the rhythm as the score indicates. So if I were doing a Master Class and the performer played the last measure of the specified prelude (Op.23, No.6) like most do, after the congratulatory remarks, etc., then I would turn to the musicians in the audience and ask them, "Can anyone tell me what beat of the measure they percieve as the last sound ocurring upon? Is it an arpeggiated chord or an arpeggio? If you know the work, then please no comment." Then I would have to turn to the performer and say, "This point you have not conveyed clearly, for there is no agreement from your performance when the last sound is sounded. If it is true, that should Rachmaninoff had wished it the way you played it that he could have written it that way, and it is, then we have to ask, 'What is meant by an arpeggiated dotted-half note chord occurring on beat 2'?" You see where I am going with this. I believe I can bend the rhythm but not distort it. The difficult part is knowing how much is too much. For me it is this principle of reciprocity. It is very similar to using an online translator. If I wish to test how accurately my English text has been translated to Russian, I take the Russian text and see how it is translated back into English. If it matches, it is a good translation (read: interpretation). By the way, I do enjoy this discussion emensely. I thank you for the exchange.


I wanted to tell you that as a result of our discussion here, I realize that as a result of my 20 years of playing without a teacher giving me direction, I have strayed off the reservation. Some call it being creative but in a real sense it is actually being lazy.. I am talking about striving to achieve the intentions of the composer. Actually that is much more difficult than being creative.. afterall playing to the intent of the composer requires much more technique and dedication.

I have now engaged piano teacher and I have the honor of re-doing Hanon.... :roll: but I thank you for our little discussion here because it made me realize I need some direction.


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:41 pm 
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Phillip Johns wrote:
I wanted to tell you that as a result of our discussion here, I realize that as a result of my 20 years of playing without a teacher giving me direction, I have strayed off the reservation. Some call it being creative but in a real sense it is actually being lazy.. I am talking about striving to achieve the intentions of the composer. Actually that is much more difficult than being creative.. afterall playing to the intent of the composer requires much more technique and dedication.

I have now engaged piano teacher and I have the honor of re-doing Hanon.... but I thank you for our little discussion here because it made me realize I need some direction.

Congratulations! I wish you the best. Keep us informed on how/what things are going. :D

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:00 pm 
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Returning to the OP's question, I do find master classes overrated.

In all master classes I've seen, the guest speaker does little more than tell the pianist how the piece should be played, in other words, impose their own interpretation on the student. This, in my opinion, is useless information unless the student does not know how to think for herself. The only time a master class is helpful is when technique is discussed.


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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:26 pm 
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mauvis sang wrote:
Returning to the OP's question, I do find master classes overrated.

In all master classes I've seen, the guest speaker does little more than tell the pianist how the piece should be played, in other words, impose their own interpretation on the student. This, in my opinion, is useless information unless the student does not know how to think for herself. The only time a master class is helpful is when technique is discussed.

I agree with this 99%, and I've said as much before. I do think it is helpful to discuss interpretation to the point of 'I don't find this performance convincing,' or something like that - not telling the student exactly what should be changed about interpretation unless they appear to desire such advice. I have played Chopin 25/11 for a couple of recent master classes and I found it amusing how both clinicians seemed a little put out that they had no choice but to discuss technique, which most clinicians seem to think is beneath them (either that or they think it impossible to impart such advice in a master class setting, which is silly - even one good bit of advice on technique can be helpful). The second clinician even spent a few minutes drilling my interpretation of the introduction, which was his only real hope to avoid the technique discussion. (By the way, he told me the introduction should be played exactly as written with no rubato whatsoever, because there is no tempo change marked in the score aside from the fermatas. I mean...I don't even...)

Most students play at master classes not because they actually want you to tell them how to interpret a piece, but for other reasons:

1. It is expected for a student to build up a resume of master classes.
2. It is expected for a guest artist to do master classes (especially visiting professors who are recruiting students); the ranks need to be filled, and our teachers will often put us up to it to show off their students.
3. Playing in front of people before a performance is helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:14 am 
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On a couple of occasions I've been to masterclasses where the teacher thought it was their job to teach the audience. The students' performances were merely a starting point for discussion; the teacher tried to find ideas relating to these performances that could be useful to everyone who was present. I find this sort of masterclass both useful and enjoyable. Sadly, it happens very rarely.

All too often a masterclass turns into a short series of private lessons with spectators. This seems like a missed opportunity. I agree that some of the students are playing for the wrong reasons.

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 Post subject: Re: "Master classes" - are they overrated?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:12 pm 
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I find that most master class clinicians will engage the audience about half the time or so, especially if it's a large audience.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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