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 Post subject: Glenn Gould
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 6:45 pm 
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Well, we must have a topic of probably the most excentric and original pianist ever. Retired at 32 and dedicated himself to make recordings which nowadays are extremely famous. Especially his WTK I & II and Goldberg Variations.

I have always felt a very unique tension in his recordings that creates an extreme presence and beauty. Like he puts in his entire soul everytime he struck a note. Terrible that he only became 50 and died 1982. He could mind as well been alive today and I cannot help wonder what he would have done with all the technique available. Probably something like John Grant did with the WTK I.

Also, his technique is underrated. He was extremely fast when he wanted to and played in a very difficult way when he kind of half staccatod the keys which means that every single change in velocity, tempo or slip will be heard twice as much. I have a DVD (The Alchemsist, perhaps the most famous video) where you hear him playing Chopin's op.10 no.2 in the background when he drives the car from a private recording. Extremely fast!

I guess everyone has a view of Gould. Share :).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 4:32 am 
He's good to listen to: I particularly like his Liszt Beethoven Symphony Transcriptions. But watching him is a different matter. I rented a few DVD's of his and wished I hadn't. It's just not pleasant watching him because of his incessant need to let his jaw move up and down in a spasm, obviously because he's keeping beats. What is with these pro pianists who must be vocal metronomes? Serkin did it, Lang Lang does it, and Gould couldn't stop it.

I don't know... just makes it harder for me to take a pianist seriously or soak myself into the performance when pianists do that kind of thing. Imagine if Chopin did that during a polonaise, you know? Or Liszt during an operatic fantasy?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:04 pm 
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Hexameron wrote:
He's good to listen to: I particularly like his Liszt Beethoven Symphony Transcriptions. But watching him is a different matter. I rented a few DVD's of his and wished I hadn't. It's just not pleasant watching him because of his incessant need to let his jaw move up and down in a spasm, obviously because he's keeping beats. What is with these pro pianists who must be vocal metronomes? Serkin did it, Lang Lang does it, and Gould couldn't stop it.

I don't know... just makes it harder for me to take a pianist seriously or soak myself into the performance when pianists do that kind of thing. Imagine if Chopin did that during a polonaise, you know? Or Liszt during an operatic fantasy?

I doubt he keeps beat or even needed to. He is extremely beat steady. Rather, he almost goes into trance when he played and let his entire soul connect to his hands producing the music. He put in so much energy and did not care at all if he looked funny or made strange moves. It was the music that was important. He actually did not care much about anything else.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:44 pm 
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I just watched a few videos of him on You Tube. It is like his entire body, soul, and mind becomes one with the music. He is indeed a great pianist. Have you seen how low he sits at the piano? I wonder how or why he develped that posture. I guess it's a matter of "whatever works". It certainly works for him.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:12 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
I just watched a few videos of him on You Tube. It is like his entire body, soul, and mind becomes one with the music. He is indeed a great pianist. Have you seen how low he sits at the piano? I wonder how or why he develped that posture. I guess it's a matter of "whatever works". It certainly works for him.

Oh yes indeed have I noticed his low posture. Not something I could recommend to anyone and I have tried it at a very low children's chair I have in my son's room. Feels terrible.
He did carry his own "travel" chair along with him for rectials which looks like it would break anytime. Worn out and ribbs missing. He said in an interview "Without it, I cannot operate".

I think he developed the low posture in an early age where he could not reach up properly and it just got a habit. Only advantage I can think of is that you get very close to your fingers which might add some control. Wonder how he ever was able to read a score on a grand.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:17 am 
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I have not really heard enough of Gould's recordings to have a well-founded opinion. In his early career he championed off-beat repertoire like the Strauss Sonata and the Sibelius Kylykki. I remember hearing his Prokofiev 7th sonata which was very impressive, especially the driving last movement.

As for his Bach, few can ever match his absolute mastery, clarity, and lucidity. Yet I always felt he was busy point-making rather than making music. Clinically dissecting the music, rather than living and breathing it. And with too many quirky habits and a too strong preoccupation to be 'different' (not unlike some latter-day pianists like Mustonen and Pletnev). To me, Gould was a musician more respected and admired than loved, and I feel the same about his recordings. I am sure this is courting controversy 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:50 pm 
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I do not think he tried to be different but purely was different. I do not believe he made up his pose or interpretations and acted a clever showman to gain popularity or at least point out. I think he was different from the very start. He had a very rough time in school and was picked on so his mother took him out of ordinary school in an early age and then put him in the conservatory in Toronto at the age of 10.

And at last, my theory, which I am not alone having, is that Gould suffered from Aspgerger's Syndrome. I will quote the typical syndrom below.
Quote:
Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see. It's important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently. Therefore, many behaviors that seem odd or unusual are due to those neurological differences and not the result of intentional rudeness or bad behavior, and most certainly not the result of "improper parenting".

By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like "little professors." However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context.

Source: Barbara L. Kirby
Founder of the OASIS Web site (www.aspergersyndrome.org)
Co-author of THE OASIS GUIDE TO ASPERGER SYNDROME (Crown, 2001, Revised 2005)


It fits very well to Gould...as well as Einstein and other people regarded as genius or having an extreme skill in a specific area.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:57 pm 
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I like his Bach. I love his Bach. His Bach is great. The clarity in his playing, his amazing technique, everything suits Bach. Sometimes he lets me think that he is playing harpsichord instead of piano.

But except his Bach I don't really like his other recordings. His Mozart is sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow, and played very dry, without any expression, I get the impression. He didn't like Mozart and said he died rather too late than too early, maybe he just wanted to make the people clear that Mozart is boring in his opinion.

Furthermore he chooses some strange repetoire. Strange guy he was, but wounderful music.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:30 am 
Gould is a pianist who is very close to my heart as I am Canadian, live in the same city Gould was born, raised, and died in (Toronto), and recall listening a great deal to his recordings of Bach when I was only a beginner, and I still enjoy listening to them today.

He was a very controversial artist, in almost every way possible. His views on interpretation, his opinions about performance, his ideas about the role the pianist should have in the music, and even the way he played was all completely off the scales (no piano-playing pun was intended there, seriously).

Above all its his interpretations of Bach that I love the most. With most other composers he was prone to great eccentricities that while don't make his playing any less brilliant does make it not sit well with my tastes. Its not that he couldn't play, say, Chopin or Beethoven or Mozart well, he just decided to play it his way.

But to anyone who has never heard Gould's playing, I don't see how you could call yourself a lover of piano music and have never heard Gould play Bach, so as soon as you can get his recording of Goldberg Variations. The 1981 version is the one I prefer (he made his recording debut with the very same work in 1955), and I think most others would agree with me that it is overall a better interpretation. It was the first recording I ever heard of Gould, and I think its the best place to start for someone wanting to become acquainted with Gould's playing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:37 pm 
robert wrote:
Oh yes indeed have I noticed his low posture. Not something I could recommend to anyone and I have tried it at a very low children's chair I have in my son's room. Feels terrible.
He did carry his own "travel" chair along with him for rectials which looks like it would break anytime. Worn out and ribbs missing. He said in an interview "Without it, I cannot operate".

I think he developed the low posture in an early age where he could not reach up properly and it just got a habit. Only advantage I can think of is that you get very close to your fingers which might add some control. Wonder how he ever was able to read a score on a grand.


Actually that low posture was brought on by his teacher. His teacher had everyone sit like that for a while at least. (The teacher occasionally switched styles.) None of that teacher's students did anything great except for Gould, so I don't think it's a very good technique compared to Lhevinne's technique, say, who had many great students. Gould's Bach is great, but not his other recordings. I think he was able to make Bach clean sounding because of his technique which relys on the fingers. Also, I believe that he had Auspergers syndrome. Sounds about right. Anyhow, he had something. I mean, he was too eccentric not to have something. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:11 am 
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No matter what your opinion of Gould, you can't say he didn't play exactly what he intended. He was in perfect control.

Pete


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:56 pm 
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PJF wrote:
No matter what your opinion of Gould, you can't say he didn't play exactly what he intended. He was in perfect control.

Pete
Yes and in many ways in better control than Michelangeli for example who always preferred safety before exciting interpretations. Have you heard his personal recording of Chopin's 10/2 from when he was 16 years old? Fastest ever and still in perfect control and with every key perfectly audible.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:46 am 
hmmm yes...doesnt he sing when he plays? whats with that? though i guess i do like his bach..sortof...though sometimes his singing is slightly distracting :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:54 pm 
He controlled everything except for the singing. :P


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:12 pm 
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His recording of the E flat minor Fugue is funny :lol: .

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:53 pm 
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robert wrote:
pianolady wrote:
I just watched a few videos of him on You Tube. It is like his entire body, soul, and mind becomes one with the music. He is indeed a great pianist. Have you seen how low he sits at the piano? I wonder how or why he develped that posture. I guess it's a matter of "whatever works". It certainly works for him.

Oh yes indeed have I noticed his low posture. Not something I could recommend to anyone and I have tried it at a very low children's chair I have in my son's room. Feels terrible.
He did carry his own "travel" chair along with him for rectials which looks like it would break anytime. Worn out and ribbs missing. He said in an interview "Without it, I cannot operate".

I think he developed the low posture in an early age where he could not reach up properly and it just got a habit. Only advantage I can think of is that you get very close to your fingers which might add some control. Wonder how he ever was able to read a score on a grand.


I brought this back up, because I’ve been screwing around on the piano this morning and with all the talk about Gould on the Bach thread, I thought I would try playing piano sitting on a low chair. I never before tried it. (My teacher’s is probably going to shake his head if he learns about this. But he should know better then to go off concertizing around the country this week instead of staying home and teaching me. :lol: )

The result is that I think I did have better finger control. Could be just my imagination, though. But it is something how when my eyes were closer to the keyboard, and with the Rach prelude I’m working on, I think I was able to bring out the top notes better (something I’m struggling with). But it was awkward coming down on big chords spread far apart – like I’m too close the keys and can’t see both hands out there, so that’s not so great. And Robert, you’re right about reading the music. It’s much higher up. And since I'm short it's always been high up, anyway.

I’ve never heard Gould play Chopin and wonder if there’s a video of that on youtube. I'll check it out after this. If there is, I sure hope he doesn't sing along.

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 Post subject: Gould
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:40 pm 
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I can't add anything to all that has been said about Gould except that I agree with those who believe he was a great genius who would had accomplished a lot more if he had not died so prematurely. I agree with Robert and those who believe he had Aspgerger's Syndrome or something akin to it. I don't believe his eccentricities were feigned to attract attention. Like Einstein, he was a genius who often didn't relate to others normally.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:11 am 
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Someone told me I have Asperger's or whatever it is.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:34 pm 
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This is linked to the thread Terez posted about Barenboim and the Bach Goldberg Variations.

I found Barenboim on Youtube playing the Aria from the Goldberg variations. Here’s the link:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=AcXXkcZ2jWM
So I watched him first and thought, “Ok – that’s nice. And look how high he sits at the piano. Many times, his forearms are slanted down toward the keys a great deal. He seems to have good control over his fingers like this. And what a pretty piece.”
Then I found Gould playing the same piece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rtt1msnwlZQ
the Aria starts at the 5:50 mark. I am astonished! He plays it much slower and I think more beautiful than probably anyone else could ever hope to do. What he is producing on the piano is nearly killing me, it’s so nice. Like it lures you in, undresses you, hands gently rubbing all over your body, and then love-making - nice and slow, lingering on and on…Do you see what I mean? He caresses the keys like he is making love to the piano. That may sound weird, but I don’t know…there’s something about watching that video that’s got me all ‘worked up’, if get what I'm talking about. (And doesn’t it just figure that my husband is never around when I need him most!). Also, there’s that posture that Gould has at the piano. With his face so near the keys, that has to be the way he controls his fingers like that, don’t you think?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:12 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
With his face so near the keys, that has to be the way he controls his fingers like that, don’t you think?

I doubt it, because sometimes he's rolling his head back with his eyes closed. :lol:

But yeah, I also found that video of Gould's Goldberg earlier and bookmarked it, and I agree it's nicer than Barenboim. But I don't think Barenboim is bad at all, and I just didn't see why he would be described as "too romantic" an interpretation of Bach, which I think is what was said.

Also, I saw in the comments on YouTube that Gould had done an earlier recording of Goldberg in which the Aria was played faster, probably similar to Barenboim's tempo.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:55 pm 
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Quote:
But I don't think Barenboim is bad at all, and I just didn't see why he would be described as "too romantic" an interpretation of Bach, which I think is what was said.

Yeah, I don't get that, either.

Quote:
Also, I saw in the comments on YouTube that Gould had done an earlier recording of Goldberg in which the Aria was played faster, probably similar to Barenboim's tempo.




My teacher suggested that I listen to Gould's first recording of these. But I kind of like this one. :wink: :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:31 am 
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Terez wrote:
Someone told me I have Asperger's or whatever it is.

Well, if you have, you should have severe problems to understand body language, communication with other people and especially "everything that is in between the lines" and you would take everything literally, be focused on just certain special areas in which you are very skilled, anti-social, bad emotional and especially no empathy for other people. Who said it? A doctor? If not, ignore it.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:15 pm 
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Yeah, it wasn't a doctor. ;) It was a person I know who I guess had read about it, and he said I had signs of it - extreme OCD, extremely anti-social (I don't guess you can tell since I find it much easier to be sociable online in written form - in real life, I'm very anti-social), and I do tend to get super-lost in my interests/skills, which would be music/literature, and most of my obsession with those tends to be in a loner sort of way, either at my digital piano with headphones, or at my computer with headphones. I don't really take everything literally, though - I'm not the best with hints, but I can pick up on them every now and then.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:53 am 
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My son is now diagnosed HFA which means High Function Autism and there is small differences between that and Asperger's syndrome so I know what I am talking about. If you just feel lucky about your life, you shouldn't bother too much.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:53 pm 
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Dear Piano enthousiasts,

Here are my 2 cents....

I realy don't know what it is about Glenn Gould that people always come to analyse his strangeness. I for my part find what he did whit the piano not strange at all. In fact, his piano technique as well as his interpretation make a lot of sense. Let me confine my remarks to the technique:

- compared with other pianists, his technique comes by far the closest to the natural "grasping" function of the hand, enabling him to play with great security.
- related to this is his bodily posture that makes sense from a physical viewpoint as he makes excellent use of gravity.
- his singing, humming and even his swinging is nowadays often advised as a relaxation technique.

I realy don't understand why his example is not followed more often until now. I am quite sure, that by the time his excentricities are forgotten, his example will be followed more often since it makes great sense!

Greetings from Peter


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:13 pm 
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My teacher has been trying to modify my own eccentricities at the piano. She says that performing is an athletic event and that I have to be in proper form. I tend to sway a lot unconsciously as I play, and she will put her hands on my back to keep me still, or just coach while I'm playing - "Move nothing but your arms!" My non-pedal foot, I often keep underneath me, and put a lot of my weight on it. I sort of use it like a brace (against what, I'm not sure - it's just something I do). She'll grab my leg and place my left foot somewhere up by the pedals. My old teacher did the same thing with my pedal foot, because when I was playing a piece where I didn't use it at all (like a Bach invention or something) I would keep both of my feet underneath me, so he would constantly have to remind me to keep my pedal foot in position. At least he didn't worry about my left foot. :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:40 pm 
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Terez wrote:
"Move nothing but your arms!" My non-pedal foot, I often keep underneath me, and put a lot of my weight on it. I sort of use it like a brace (against what, I'm not sure - it's just something I do).


Hmmm......I know I should just shut up because I don't want you to doubt your teacher, since I'm sure she is telling you what she believes just because she may not have done any recent readings, and certainly not to harm you. And I don't wish to argue with anyone at PS here who thinks otherwise, but........moving only your arms is now an old-fashioned way of playing because it has proven to be the surest way to get strain in the back and everywhere else. In my opinion and based on my own experience and on lots of reading, the best way to play is often the way that comes natural, and that is to sway freely from your torso -- both leaning forward (ie.head further forward than hips are) and freely swaying from side to side, essentially so that your sternum (chest) ends up centred over the area of the keyboard your hands are at. And as far as your left foot tucked under you and you digging into the ground, that is very much recommended in some readings. It is hard to explain and I am currently on only a 15-min. break from teaching so hope I am making sense in a rush, but by left foot being on ground and not just resting lightly there either, it allows the energy of your thigh quadricep muscles to be transferred up to your torso, which is where the energy then goes to arms and eventually fingertips. Again, not my crazy logic, but based on what I've read. Don't ask me the exact authors or book titles because I've read about a dozen books from the local library on correct body position, so wouldn't know where to begin looking, but I hope this info is helpful anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:00 pm 
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Nicole wrote:
Hmmm......I know I should just shut up because I don't want you to doubt your teacher

lol...by all means, question anything and everything. I know she's going to have a really hard time breaking me of my natural position, because I've always played that way. She'll probably give up eventually. :lol:

Quote:
And as far as your left foot tucked under you and you digging into the ground, that is very much recommended in some readings. It is hard to explain and I am currently on only a 15-min. break from teaching so hope I am making sense in a rush, but by left foot being on ground and not just resting lightly there either, it allows the energy of your thigh quadricep muscles to be transferred up to your torso, which is where the energy then goes to arms and eventually fingertips.

That's why I like it, I think - like, if I do it that way, I feel like I have not only gravity but also my body weight to contribute. It's not always in use, but it's potential force at my disposal for when I need it.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:08 pm 
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Hi Peter - welcome to the conversation. I remember you from another topic about hand position and also remember that some people here find your description of how to hold the hands totally against what is considered normal. Still, as someone who is struggling with practically everything regarding playing piano, my ears are never closed. I have a very good teacher, who in my very first lesson told me I was holding my wrists up too high. That may have been one of the reasons I have tendonitis. But in addition to that, I don't use enough weight, gravity, strength, play with too much tension...etc...whatever else is needed to improve my tone. I tried sitting on a low chair the other day, (like Gould) and it felt very strange. Like I was a kid sitting at our big formal dining room where my chin barely cleared the table. I don't know how tall Gould was, but I'm only 5 feet 2 inches tall, so sitting on a low chair makes me really short. Yes, my eyes were close to my fingers so maybe that's one way of gaining more control over the fingers, but the fact that I couldn't get a high up view of the whole keyboard is not so great. It would take a lot of time to get used to playing the piano this way. So I'm not sure if sitting low is the right thing for me. My trouble seems to be more the way I hold my wrists, but also my fingers coming down with the right amount of weight, force, with tension, without tension...oh, forget it - so much to learn!

Terez and Nicole - I saw Pollini play a few months ago, and he used the soft pedal a lot. But when he wasn't, he put his left foot under the bench. As to swaying, the only thing I can say is that my teacher says to play however you feel is natural. So what if you sway when you play, as long as it's not crazy-looking, but I have to add that my teacher does not sway and sits very straight. That is his natural way. (and he plays very well!)

Just thought of something else. Do you think that women tend to move more when they play piano than men? Maybe because we are more emotional, dramatic, sensitive, used to expressing ourselves etc...? Maybe we are more physical at the piano because that's what is normal for us? But then look at Lang Lang. He's certainly not shy when it comes to 'letting it all go'.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:23 am 
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pianolady wrote:
I saw Pollini play a few months ago, and he used the soft pedal a lot. But when he wasn't, he put his left foot under the bench.

I almost never use the una corda pedal. Which is probably a good thing, because I think I still have a long way to go on mastery of the sustain pedal. I like to think that I enjoy the challenge of making soft passages sing without it, but that might just be one of those things I tell myself. :lol:

By the way, Monica...I noticed you wondering a while back if Gould played Chopin, and though you might have already looked it up, Wikipedia quotes him saying that he played Chopin once or twice a year, "for himself", but that it "didn't convince" him. I can certainly understand his appreciation of the things in Bach that are absent in Chopin, namely strict counterpoint. With Chopin, counterpoint is rarely so strictly defined - rather, it's implicit, with the way that Chopin voices his chords (usually quite perfectly). As much as we love Chopin, much of what he wrote can be easily used as an accompaniment to yet another melody that intertwines perfectly with both the existing melody(-ies) and the chord voicing. Even a simple mind like mine could probably easily come up with something beautiful and profound that would move through those gaps, with what is already written acting like the banks of a river.

I've actually thought about doing that, with the concertos. Not sure if I've mentioned that before, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot with this recent renaissance of love for the concertos I've experienced. :D I wouldn't change the slightest bit about the piano part. Chopin was in his element writing for the piano. But it's pretty obvious that he didn't really put a whole lot of love into the orchestrations. The harmony is perfect, and there several submelodies that have his name clearly written on them, but he didn't get too adventurous with it. So I get to thinking, wouldn't it be cool if I could transcribe, and embellish, the orchestral parts for a string quartet? That would turn the concertos into quintet sonatas, but I think it could be awesome...Chopin was certainly capable of doing such a thing for himself, but he wrote these concertos at a very young age, and I think he probably used them as a part of his purchase into the music scene. Keyboard music was not at that time nearly as popular as the larger-scale sort of music, and chamber quintets don't quite hack it either. Chopin made his name known fairly quickly, and then essentially retired from the stage and made a good bit of money teaching piano lessons. The wealthy youth in Paris and the surrounding area were I'm sure quite willing to pay exorbitant prices for his guidance, and there were probably quite a few talented ones, too.

So, no more torturous orchestral scoring projects. I can imagine Chopin being so tortured with having had to do it the first time around that he didn't want to touch it again to try to make something else out of it. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:37 am 
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Quote:
By the way, Monica...I noticed you wondering a while back if Gould played Chopin, and though you might have already looked it up, Wikipedia quotes him saying that he played Chopin once or twice a year, "for himself", but that it "didn't convince" him.

No, I have not heard Gould playing Chopin. I did a quick search online but found nothing. Next time I’m at the library, I’ll see if they have any CD’s. I would still like to hear how he plays it.

Interesting about changing the concertos. I’ve heard when orchestra parts were added to Chopin pieces, but not his concertos pared down to smaller-sized groups. I think I can almost hear that sort of arrangement. The second movement of the first concerto would be maybe even more beautiful (if possible) with just a couple strings, cello, maybe a flute or a harp. As long as that stupid horn player that sounds like a goose on my Music Minus One cd is not in it. :lol:

Quote:
The wealthy youth in Paris and the surrounding area were I'm sure quite willing to pay exorbitant prices for his guidance,

I would give anything to go back in time and be one of those students. Of course I would have to do quite an acting job that would convince him to accept me as a student since I’m not a virtuoso, or from a wealthy or royal family. Maybe if I tell him I’ll cook for him too, maybe clean his apartment, wash his clothes, massage his hands and arms (oh, does that feel great!) etc…I could write a book with all the fantasies that pop up in my mind. :wink:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:44 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Quote:
By the way, Monica...I noticed you wondering a while back if Gould played Chopin, and though you might have already looked it up, Wikipedia quotes him saying that he played Chopin once or twice a year, "for himself", but that it "didn't convince" him.

No, I have not heard Gould playing Chopin. I did a quick search online but found nothing. Next time I’m at the library, I’ll see if they have any CD’s. I would still like to hear how he plays it.


I think Gould did not like Chopin's music much and says in one interview regarding making recordings. "If they say I should make a sugary Chopin recording, I would simply refuse."

On the other hand, a recording of Chopin's op.10 no.2 was found in his private archive and I have that on a DVD at home. It is really incredible how fast, distinct and clear he plays it. Absolutely crazy! Anyone else heard it?

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Even if there would be a recording of GG playing Chopin, I would not be interested in.

I really do admire the technical ability Glenn Gould had, and his manner to phrase different voices for contrapunctual stuff. Also he not only could play very dynamically, but foremost he articulated much. That means, no endless legato playing, instead all shades of articulation from legato to staccato. That is what fits so well in my opinion especially for the music of the high baroque time, especially Bach.

What I don't like in his playing is that his articulation and dynamics are kind of arbitrary in the sense that I often can't draw a connection of his articulation to the musical content. It sounds like "now I like to play softer and softer" and that he does perfectly. I never experience that how he plays comes from the stomach, or that the musical expression is driven by feelings.
Of course he is in perfect control of how he plays, flawless in every direction, but anyhow it all sounds kind of cold and steril. Can't describe it better, but me (and my wife too) cannot listen to more than a couple of WTC items from him.

So instead having a feeling of getting undressed by his playing (what Monica describes) I get more a feeling of taking an addional pullover because I feel chilly because of the cold playing. Now you know why I am not interested to hear Chopin played by GG...

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:06 am 
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On the other hand, a recording of Chopin's op.10 no.2 was found in his private archive and I have that on a DVD at home. It is really incredible how fast, distinct and clear he plays it. Absolutely crazy! Anyone else heard it?


I did, and it is stunning how he could play in such a neat and detached way at that speed. Yet, it sounds awfully like some Czerny thingies. By the way, Gould recorded Chopin's Third Sonata for a CBC broadcast. Very interesting in some parts, but utterly unidiomatic.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 11:38 am 
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Olaf, your assessment of Gould’s playing being cold is something I have yet to decide for myself, since I haven’t been into all this for long. Now that I’m learning a Bach piece, I have much to figure out.

And at first, I was a little surprised by what you said here. Then again, I think you have a romantic nature, so if you think Gould plays unromantically, then what you say makes sense. However, on this particular aria that I linked on an earlier post, he plays very romantically. And when you compare it with Barenboim’s version, it is like these two men switched playing styles - you should put on the sweater when listening to Barenboim’s aria and take it off when listening to Gould’s.

I wish we could hear how Chopin played Bach.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:46 pm 
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I'd like to hear Bach play Chopin. Yeah, that's right. On a piano with a sustain pedal and everything! :shock:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:34 pm 
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Hello pianolady,

There is a CD recording of chopins third piano sonata by GG. I have it. It is not what one would expect from a normal Chopin interpretation. Apart from some passages that have an extraordinary beauty, I think it shows in total that Glenn did not appreciate Chopin.

About your wrist problem. I believe very strongly that every pianist has to develop his own physical approach towards the instrument. You cannot simply adopt a physical approach form someone else (like your teacher or anyone else) and make it your own. And for finding your own approach you have to do a lot of experimenting. And i think Glenn Gould is a great example of where such experimenting can lead to. He developed a physical approach towards the instrument that was so completely in line with his own physical and mental characteristics, that it allowed him to play the most difficult pieces in an almost flawless manner. That makes great sense to me. And i believe that many of the solution he found will prove to be of value for many pianists, as they have been to me.

I understand your fascination with Glenn's interpretation of the Goldberg variations. On Youtube you have seen his latest interpration. The one he recorded only one or two years before he died. That one is not only fabulous in it's technique. It is pure genius in it's music. I must have heard it some 30 times by now. And it never fails to amaze me. To me, the Goldberg variations are, as a composition, in itself a momument of human artistry. Played by Glenn Gould, the monument comes to live and shines with a livelyhood and warmth and is testimony to what human culture can achieve.

By the way, i will post my interpretation of the French Overture of Bach in a few weeks from now. I recorded it a few weeks ago in the medieval townhall of the city of Naarden, here in Holland. Currently i am in the process of producing a DVD about it (on Comenius, Bach and the city of Naarden). I consider it my revival as a pianist (since i negelected the piano for almost 15 years). I just have to discuss some copyright matters before being able to upload it to the piano society in some form or the other.

Greetings from Peter


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:57 am 
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pianolady wrote:
However, on this particular aria that I linked on an earlier post, he plays very romantically. And when you compare it with Barenboim’s version, it is like these two men switched playing styles - you should put on the sweater when listening to Barenboim’s aria and take it off when listening to Gould’s.


Yes, I watched both the Barenboim and GG video of the aria, and after that almost all GG videos on Youtube. Undoubtly GG was a great artist and kind of reinventor to find the beauty in articulation in polyphonic pieces. And I agree that the aria is played by GG with extraordinary beauty. I like the Barenboim take too, but I prefer the GG version. GG plays it very slow, and very, very soft but nevertheless great voicing. That shows great technique with unbelievable key control. But playing very soft + delicate and playing romantically are still different things to me (anyhow there is no need to play Bach in a romantic manner for me, or to play Chopin in baroque manner ...). I agree, that aria cannot be called cold playing from GG (because it is very soft and not that staccato played), but exeptions prove the rule. :)

Maybe I have more of a romantic nature, however the longer I do play Bach on organ or piano, the longer I try to long for strictly different interpretations whether it is Bach or Chopin e.g.
For a Bach fugue (many of the preludes are polyphonic pieces too) it is necessary to show the beauty in the different voices in parallel. The "tools" I see in different dynamics combined with strong articulation. The articulation especially but also the melody bows well choosen in connection to the rhythmic metrum of the piece. But in difference to the romantic manner not so in sound revelling, pedaled legato playing, or rubato, or melody bows neglecting the rhythmic structure.

I think the main difference of the high baroque music and romantic music is that the one has polyphonic character, the other homophonic character (there are expections of course, only as a rule of thumb), so the interpretation style should act accordingly.

pianolady wrote:
I wish we could hear how Chopin played Bach.


Yeah, but much more I wish we could hear how Chopin played Chopin, and how Bach played Bach. Or even more, how they improvised in their own style ...

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A lot of good stuff in the previous posts. I'm going to have find that recording of Gould playing the Chopin sonata, because now I'm very curious. And I think experimenting with one's hand position to find what is right is the most logical. I have yet to find what works best for me.

And then there's playing staccato vs. legato with Bach (and everything in between). A person could study nothing but that for a long time. I have a lesson today and have a feeling that we may spend the whole hour on just the first line of that WTC prelude/fugue.

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I must jump in here again (seems like everyone has something to say about Gould) and add that what I believe Gould foremost gave the world were interpretations which are crystal clear. Every note is always perfectly audible and given equal significance (the reason he was able to do so was his very individual technique). The result of every note being audible is a new dimension in music and most important, in Bach's music and we have never heard it like that before. Not only are all keys audible, he also succeeds creating an enormous tension in the music because he plays very hard, bony and detached. My mind always want something more after I have listened to Gould and that is why I always go back and listen over and over again. In direct opposite to Olaf, I can listen endlessly to any of his Bach music (he recorded all Bach's keyboard music and I have it all). It touches me so deeply and I have never heard anyone played Bach more beautifully.

For you Monica, I have recorded his Chopin 10/2 from the DVD I have but you have to stand the talking in the middle of it. As we discussed before, it is crazy fast and for example Pollini ends up at 1:20 from that he hits the first key to the last, Gould is under 0:55 !!! :shock:

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Good grief! He's a psycho.
I don't whether to laugh, cry, applaud or throw up. :?: :lol:

Pete


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Oh my God! Pete already said everything I would have said. Is that for real? Robert, you're right about every note sounding. He is like a robot. Maybe the tape is sped up. And do you think he is talking at the same time that he is playing? LOL :lol:
Thanks for showing me that! :wink: Wow!

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pianolady wrote:
Oh my God! Pete already said everything I would have said. Is that for real? Robert, you're right about every note sounding. He is like a robot. Maybe the tape is sped up. And do you think he is talking at the same time that he is playing? LOL :lol:
Thanks for showing me that! :wink: Wow!

The text at the end says it is a private recording from 1948 so he was only 16 years old at the time of this recording which makes it even more incredible!

The clip is from the film named "Hereafter" by Glenn Gould and this is the best film I have of him from my collection of four. But I am not sure that the voice is authentic, rather I doubt it.

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