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Bach pianists (or harpsichordists)

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by Terez, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I'm going to try to listen to as many recordings of the Bach c minor partita as I can get my hands on, as I'm trying to get some ideas about what is acceptable in style and ornamentation. I have a friend that helps me by sharing recordings with me sometimes, but I am curious to know, especially among those of you who play a lot of Bach, who your favorite interpreters are. I have GG's complete Bach recordings, and I like him. Also, I recently listened to Andreas Schiff play the c minor partita on YouTube, and I really liked the way he played it - very creative and sensitive, even Romantic (which I did not expect, as the recommendation came from a baroque performance practice expert who tends to be conservative). Also on YouTube is a bit of the capriccio by Martha Argerich, which was nice....fairly conventional, but with her usual fire. I have also watched a video by Angela Hewitt on playing Bach on piano.

    The performance practice expert recommended I listen to harpsichordists, and I don't know ANYTHING about which harpsichordists are considered to be the best, and which ones studied performance practice, and which ones did not.

    So, who are your favorite Bach players?
     
  2. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

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    I think Gustav Leonhardt might be one person to look at. He was a big influence over many harpsichordists and has recorded all of bach's work. You might also want to look at one of his many students like Ton Koopman he has also recorded all of bach's work. Not that I am an expert in the matter either. I am also curious what others think.

    I always thought the first person to start recording anything for the harpsichord was Wanda Landowska but these are some very old old recordings if you like that kind of thing.

     
  3. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Anthony Newman's Bach has been my favorite so far in my limited harpsichord exposure. If I remember correctly, some of his recording frontmatter has some interesting discussions on style and ornamentation, too.
     
  4. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Out of the harpsichordists I've listened to on YouTube, the one that made the biggest impression on me was Trevor Pinnock. I like his approach in general, and in particular, I liked the way he played the gigue in the e minor partita. For those that are unfamiliar with that gigue, here is a performance by Pletnev, essentially the way it is written by Bach. What Pinnock did is particularly interesting to me because of the gavotte that precedes the gigue. It is written as if it were 3 against 4, with dotted-eight/sixteen groups in one hand and triplets in the other, but performance practice was to align the sixteenths with the last note of the triplet. In cases where there are two sixteenths and an eighth, one approach is to play them like a slide, and the another approach is to play the group as if it were a triplet. It is the 3 against 4 that dictates the performance practice considerations, but though that problem is missing in the gigue, Pinnock applied the same approach to the gigue that most people apply to the gavotte.

    For ornamentation, I enjoyed listening to Andreas Staier. Here is his interpretation of the c minor rondeau and capriccio

    Similar to the way Pinnock played the e minor gigue is Schiff's interpretation of the c minor corrente, on the repeats (the first time through, he plays it as written). Staier does something similar-ish with the corrente, and so do some other harpsichordists that I listened to, but I think that Schiff's interpretation is the most convincing. I guess this sort of thing is what I'm talking about when I say I'm trying to find out what is acceptable, and what is not.
     
  5. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

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    You know I've always felt that the end result should really dictate the practice if that makes sense. That is, I find not all harpsichord practices always translate 100% effectively on the piano and really I let my ear decide in the end what works and what does not. I guess with dotted rhythms people tend to play them in many different ways depending on the context and the character of the music (even on the harpsichord.)

    I think its good though to be aware of some baroque/harpsichord practices and the over all sound they make

    Anyway I am sure there are many different opinions on this, and I am fairly new to this kind of thing.


     
  6. alf

    alf New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Terez, I was about to recommend just Pinnock, whose Bach's 2nd Partita is majestic and in the "grand" style. A very appropriate conception for that Suite and probably my favorite harpsichord version (I don't know that many, though). I'm not sure -I agree with Stan on that- that such a conception would work on the piano, I suspect that it'd sound heavy and pompous, a bit à la Nikolaeva. It's much more useful to listen attentively to pianists who care for performance practice (you've already named some). I can privately provide you with less known piano versions. By the way, Schiff has recently re-recorded the six partitas for ECM. IMO a more thoughtful interpretation than the previous Decca. Last year I heard Zimerman playing the 2nd partita in concert and was veery beautiful (unfortunately no recording of it, only memories). Sokolov is going to play it in the few next months (there's an old recording of him playing that partita). Uh, I realize that you asked for harpsichordists and I'm again speaking of pianists. Sorry I cannot help it! :lol:
     
  7. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    haha, look at the title of my thread, and my opening post! I clearly want both (and harpsichordists are even secondary). :p Anyway, I agree that not all things transfer from harpsichord to piano, but I am trying to familiarize myself with harpsichord traditions so that I can understand the context for which the music was actually composed. I thought that Schiff was a really nice balance of that context and modern pianism; he didn't go crazy on ornamentation (which I think is not so necessary on piano), but he did maintain some harpsichord conventions (such as the rhythmic alteration of the repeats on the corrente), and he made good use of the piano's percussive and expressive potential.
     
  8. bclever

    bclever New Member

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    I'm completely floored by Murray Perahia's Bach (except for the Goldberg Variations. GG owns those in my opinion).
    Also, I think Angela Hewitt brings a very delicate sensitivity to the inner voices. I'm very impressed with her WTC.
     
  9. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    All of you know I'm very ignorant about Bach playing (I still like the violin partitas more than keyboard ones... Maybe monophony is more suitable for me :lol:) but I'd like to join you. Have you heard, Terez, Rosalyn Tureck playing Bach's partitas? I had borrowed her CS recording from a friend of mine, whose professor recommened her Tureck's recordings. At that time I was learning the 4th and 5th partita, so I didn't pay attention to the 2nd. However I read on the CD booklet that Tureck herself played harpsichord a lot and grappled with the relation between it and the modern piano on Bach playing. I think I've copied the CDs somewhere, so if you are interested, I will try to find the copy. (You know, I have the illness of not being able to tidy up :lol: :lol: ) Or if you don't have but want the recording of Argerich on DG, I can share it with you :)
     
  10. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I would love to have either. I'd never heard of Tureck until earlier today, actually, when I was going through YouTube to show my teacher various interpretations that I'd heard. She knew more names than me, but I was more familiar with their interpretations of that particular partita, and the e minor one. Anyway, there was a Schiff video that was tagged with all sorts of names (I hate it when YouTube people do that - don't tag a video with the name of a pianist that's not playing on the video!), and one of the names that came up was Tureck. My teacher (who is, by the way, a Gould nut) mentioned that Tureck was 'kind of a big deal'.
     
  11. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Terez, I'm very glad I could be helpful to you and found the Turek! (Quite unexpectedly they were tidily stuck in my CD shelf :shock: ) I just copied all the 12 files (of Argerich and of Tureck) into my computer, in mp3 format 192 bitrate. How can I share them? It's first time for me to do this kind of things, so I don't know how I can share large files (they are ca. 26 and 33 MB). Since both of us are using gmail, so I can mail you several times... (Gmail allows attaching files up to 15MB for a mail, doesn't it?) Or do you know a free webhard service?
    PS. If someone apart from Terez is interested in Turek's c minor partita, I would share it with her/him.
     
  12. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    The easiest way to do it is to put them all in a folder, zip the folder, and host the zip file something like MediaFire, which accepts up to 100 MB. That way, you can give the sharing link to anyone. I don't remember how to zip a folder on a Windows computer (I have a Mac), but I believe you can do it by right-clicking on the folder, and choosing something like 'compress', 'archive', or 'zip'. I think it says 'compress' on Windows. Also, for future reference, I think gmail accepts files up to 20 MB.

    Thanks Hye-Jin!
     
  13. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for the link and the instruction, Terez. I'm on another computer (of my husband) now, so I'll upload that later and mail the link to your gmail address!
     
  14. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Rosalyn Tureck
     
  15. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    I've just bought Richard Egarr's WTC (on harpsichord). Some beautifully expressive phrasing. I think it's funny that pianists are often so disapproving of rubato in Bach (a composer who died long before the metronome was invented), but harpsichordists play the same music with more rhythmic freedom.
     
  16. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    yes! I noticed that!

    in fact, probably baroque music used to have much more rubato than that of the romantic period. but I still prefer that, on piano, it is played more straight (rubato is allowed, but extremely restricted). why? tradition?
     
  17. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member

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    Yes I think she is a great pianist too. Have you seen her video 'Bach on the Frontier'?

    Here is an excerpt:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNVduEaQ ... 32&index=3


     
  18. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I have been given some advice from a harpsichordist on rubato. The performance practice experts are often the source of this sentiment against rubato in Bach, and this harpsichordist in particular felt it was only appropriate in certain places, and I have realized that there is a great deal of disagreement among HIP experts on exactly where rubato might be appropriate. All of their opinions are based on writings (often translated), not recordings, so there's a great deal of room for error or misinterpretation. I try not to worry about it too much. If I feel that rubato is appropriate, I use it.
     
  19. In-Flight Piano

    In-Flight Piano New Member

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    By far, my favorite Bach pianist is Angela Hewitt. What I find unique about her performances is the amount of variety that she puts into each piece. She uses a lot of dynamics, changes in touch to alter character, appropriate accents to hold attention, and wide range of tempi. What stands out to me is her highly diversified approach to Bach. Her style cannot be pinpointed because she is different in almost every piece in a set.
     
  20. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I enjoyed her playing, but there was something missing in it. I think the missing element was just personality - yes, she uses a lot of variety, but it's like I never really feel like there is a character behind that variety. But I seem to be near alone in requiring this of pianists....and it may be that I haven't listened to the right performance yet. (Any recommendations?)

    That being said, variety is important, and it's what makes working on Bach so intimidating for me now. I went through a phase for about a year or two where I worked on almost nothing but Bach, much as I've done recently with Chopin etudes (to the point of neglecting Bach), but I think I got scared away when working on the E minor partita, because there was so much I wanted to do with it, and just couldn't. It's enough work to master what's on the page. But Angela Hewitt's video has many helpful suggestions on articulation and whatnot. I love the expression on her face when she says you can't just bang out the subject.
     

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