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 Post subject: Interpretation: breaking the rules?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:54 pm 
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Interpretation is very personal. I’m curious about your opinion of the occasional practice of intentionally playing very softly where it is marked forte. I notice it done by many pianists, including some great ones. I’ve noticed it in music from most periods. I find it very effective at times. I'd like to hear your opinion about this practice.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:49 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
When I tried to play through Rach's prelude op3 #2, I went off on creative tangents to break up the monotony of practicing the same piece over and over again.

Instead of playing chords in the opening section, I played alternative broken chords (example: the first chord of the piece--C# G#(?) C# for the right--I would play broken but the left hand would be played as written. But for the next chord I switched so that the left hand would play the broken chord and the right hand would play as written).

Next in the Agitato section, instead of playing as written I play everything in chord. So instead of hitting the E G# C# keys individually (as written) with the right hand, I played that as a chord.

That was the style until the FFFF run down the keyboard in chords in the right hand and thirds in the left, I played that as a sombre, delicate broken chords (almost nocturnal).


In short, it made for an interesting interpretation.


I hope I made sense.

excuse my lack of proper musical jargon. I don't stoop to that level :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:52 pm 
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I just heard it yesterday on a post in the audition room.
Yes, changing the dynamics can be effective, but what does that mean? It's effectively ignoring the composer's wishes, I think. Is that right or wrong depends on numerous things such as, did the composer ever say that it is ok to do something opposite in his music - in other words, encourage people to interpret his music however they like? Or maybe because our pianos are capable of playing louder or softer than pianos in the past, so we can therefore adjust the dynamics to suit our tastes? Or you could say that it is effective, because it may effect (or is it affect?) a gasp from a listener who knows the music and knows that you played with different dynamics. My opinion is that it is not all right to change the dynamics.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:27 pm 
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It is allright, and very useful, to do for practice purposes, but not for a performance or recording.
On organ, this takes on a whole new dimension. My teacher regularly recommends practicing 3-voice pieces with some silly registration that brings one voice strongly to the fore. I don't follow that advice enough for lack of practise time, but I do see the good point of it. It is amazing how many things you hear that way that you do not usually hear. On piano, it is not that easy to achieve, and would take a lot of concentration which ius maybe better spent elsewhere.
Anyway, the question was about doing this as part of the interpretation, and then the answer should be "don't".

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:30 pm 
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Here is what Jorge Bolet thought about this topic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vrXvNVM ... re=related

(Fast forward to 2:00 to hear the specific question if you want)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:06 pm 
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bclever wrote:
Here is what Jorge Bolet thought about this topic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vrXvNVM ... re=related


Thank you for the link, ever thought that Bolet was a thinking performer (more a poet than the virtuoso that the recording industry tried to sell).

John, I think that playing piano where it's marked forte is to be seen inside the bigger picture of the whole performance of a piece. Some composer-pianists, and Chopin among them, sometimes changed the dynamics during a performance of their own music, for the sake of variety or to overtake the audience, and such liberties didn't of course destroy the architecture of the music. What bothers me most in a (bad) performance is inconsistency and superficiality. An unconventional approach to a piece can even work, but it's more likely that only a great pianist is able to overcome all the difficulties that originality usually brings along, in term of balance and coherence. As to me, striving to give meaning to the few signs the composer penned, is more than enough.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:25 pm 
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I think this issue also depends on the specific composer. Some composers are exTREMEly detailed in their interpretative notations, and others are rather perfunctory. Those who were more detailed obviously wanted to more minutely control the performance, and those with less detail may have been indifferent, or wished to leave more latitude for the performer.

Of course, then, what do we do with Bach, who gave little to no interpretive indications? I say, pedal, pedal, pedal and wild variations of tempo are the way to go! :P

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:50 am 
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While I don't follow what the composers write exactly (I kind of wrote about that in a post in the "Technique" section), I try to play relatively close to what's on the score in terms of dynamics, but don't always play exactly what the composer wrote. Usually that means exaggerating a piano or a forte.

I basically believe everything except for the notes and dynamics (as I said, maybe varying the dynamics a little is okay) can be left up to interpretation by the performer. I personally use a lot of rubato and probably play in a style that is considered overly sentimental by many. However, I don't believe that a piece that is intended to be sentimental or pretty at all can be played with too much sentimentality (is that a word?); some people, like me, just like to play things in a more romantic way. I guess that's why I don't like Baroque and Classical era composers: they didn't really write pieces with a ton of freedom of expression in mind. Composers like Chopin and Rachmaninoff knew that everyone had their own way of interpreting a piece, and wrote their works with this freedom in mind. I think that's why their works are the ones you see such variance in interpretation.

I don't really think that pieces should be played exactly the way they were written down - otherwise every performance would sound the same. It's the performers' ways of changing the tempo, dynamics, and sometimes mood of pieces that make them so easy to listen to many times over. Everyone imagines something different when playing any piece, and that's why they should play the piece the way it makes them feel rather than the exact way the composer felt when writing the piece.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:15 am 
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My teacher tried to tell me to play softer in this one part that said il piu forte possibile. I argued with her about it for weeks...lol...she said she wanted me to save some volume for this part that came after, but I said, since Chopin wants me to play as loud as possible HERE, he OBVIOUSLY doesn't want me to "save" it for that next part. :lol:

But in general, I have a tendency to play stuff however I want to play it, no matter what's on the page. Fortunately, I usually agree with the composer. :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:32 am 
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Just to make a brief comment and then go back into my shell:

I was just listening to Rachmaninoff's recording (the live one, not the piano rolls...) of Chopin's 2nd piano sonata.

He took the funeral march movement, and changed a lot of the dynamics. One example that pops into my head was where the third section is supposed to start off piano, Rachmaninoff went into a blaring fortissimo. There were several places in the score where he did stuff like that.

And... let's not forget that Rachmaninoff was one of the, if not the singularly greatest pianist of the 20th century. He obviously knew what he was doing.

Basically... I think that everybody should have free choice in expression. Consider this: A lot of composers didn't leave specific metronome marks for their music. They just would leave a rather ambiguous Allegro, and let you figure it out.

I believe that Captian Barbossa from Pirates of the Carribean would be able to sum up the idea of dynamic markings quite effectively: "They're more like ... guidelines!" :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:30 am 
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I too thank you for that link to the Bolet interview. But I soooo disagree with what he said. His idea is that he has studied a particular piece of music his whole life and therefore knows it better than the composer, who only devoted possibly one month to a year to the piece. That allows him (Bolet) to change things as he sees fit.

Rubbish!

He wouldn't know the piece at all had the composer not written it. What gives him the right?

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:51 am 
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pianolady wrote:
I too thank you for that link to the Bolet interview. But I soooo disagree with what he said. His idea is that he has studied a particular piece of music his whole life and therefore knows it better than the composer, who only devoted possibly one month to a year to the piece. That allows him (Bolet) to change things as he sees fit.

Rubbish!

He wouldn't know the piece at all had the composer not written it. What gives him the right?


A very good point your latter remark, Monica. But I believe that a composition, once published or given to the public, ceases to be under the control of the composer and starts a life of its own. What I think Bolet meant is that a composer cannot possibly encompass all the potential of a piece he created, and the pianist with a lifelong intimacy with the work has all the time to prospect for the hidden beauties and offer them to the audience. Denying this would mean to deny the role of the subconscious mind in the creative process, and turn it into a pure rational concept, which is not.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:43 pm 
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That is my point. I'm not against the artist finding hidden beauties in the piece and interpreting them in whatever way. But a tempo marking, or dynamic marking is not hidden. It's right there on the paper - something the composer created and wanted to be done in his/her composition.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:58 pm 
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In my opinion you can change the dynmaics, too, if you have a convincing personal concept. For example, if I want to underline a negative high-point by playing it piano instead of forte I could have found a more interesting way to do this. Of course, this depends on the piece. Sometimes all the correct playing in hollywood-style is so boring, that I´m really of the opinion, it needs to look for new interesting ways of interpretation. One of my favourites in mind, who did this, is Glenn Gould, for example.


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 Post subject: Re: Interpretation: breaking the rules?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:53 pm 
John Robson wrote:
Interpretation is very personal. I’m curious about your opinion of the occasional practice of intentionally playing very softly where it is marked forte. I notice it done by many pianists, including some great ones. I’ve noticed it in music from most periods. I find it very effective at times. I'd like to hear your opinion about this practice.


All there is in a score is a group of clues of sense, steps of sense.
Better to catch (one) effective, authentic sense playing p where is written F than to play "correctly" F but missing (or never having found) a way to comunicate personal (and fixed neither for all pianists nor for a single pianist: I remember Sofronitzki told he played every time the same piece in different manners )meanings of the music played.
All best,
Sandro


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