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The "What are you listening now?" thread
Froge Offline
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RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread

(03-23-2013, 04:30 AM)Bridge Wrote:
(03-23-2013, 03:40 AM)Chronofox Wrote: Have you played Chopin yourself?

Chopin is expressive and colourful, but far from being unpredictable. Some of his pieces, especially his nocturnes, have often be alluded as being almost aphrodisiac (they tend to entrance the audience into a dream-like state). Rubinstein is highly skilled at the essential cantabile or singing tone alongside the perfect degree of rubato. From my personal experience, Chopin is all about maturity, which is what separates him from most other romantic composers. One needs to be calm and collected when playing his pieces, but at the same time his notes must be sung clearly. He is not the flamboyant, unpredictable, and prideful Liszt, whose pieces are capricious and bombastic. Chopin needs to be played like a singer on stage.

Now if you want a highly skilled Chopin interpreter who has indeed the expressiveness you're looking for, I recommend Argerich:

I don't think he is highly skilled at the "essential cantabile tone", in fact the bass slightly drowns out the melody often in his playing, which I find usually colorless. Also, his rubato is a joke. It is usually barely perceptible ritardandos in the most useless moments. Also completely disagree about Chopin not being unpredictable, in fact, he is purportedly among the finest improvisers in all of the history of music, and often gave entire public performances based around improvisations alone. Not to mention, he is unpredictable in the sense that even after listening to any given Chopin piece hundreds of times, I am still delightfully surprised at his note choices, which are nothing short of inspired. Also completely disagree about him being mature, calm and collected. Why use pathetic acciaccaturas, appoggiaturas and tempo rubato if you want the music to be played calm and collected (which is how Rubinstein plays it)? It's pure expression, with a great deal entrusted to the performer and his expressive intentions. Chopin doesn't "need" to be played any way, which is one of the best things about his music.

Bottom line, Rubinstein plays Chopin like other pianists would Mozart. There's nothing wrong with Mozart's music or the way it is played, but Chopin requires a great deal of delicacy and subtlety when it comes to tempo and dynamics, which I find Rubinstein completely lacks. You can talk all you want about how perfect he is, I just him depressing to listen to and I think he ruins Chopin. Hey, I acknowledge his interpretation, it's just as "valid" as anyone else's, and I respect your opinion if you feel it is the quintessential Chopin. But personally, speaking from many many hours of listening to Chopin, reading about him, and indeed playing him (although I only know half of one of his nocturnes so far), I think Rubinstein doesn't understand him. As always, Claudio Arrau is by far the greatest. He keys in on all of the most powerful subtle moments that Rubinstein clumsily ignores, glides smooth as water through the delicate graces notes that Rubinstein forcefully (and bene in tempo) pushes past, enunciates with perfect clarity and expression the beautiful melodies that Rubinstein states dryly and stirs the listeners emotions with meticulous tempo rubato that Rubinstein construes as obligatory speeding up/down. I realize much of this is an extreme oversimplification; Rubinstein is a technically proficient pianist and none of this is due to inexperience.

Just do yourself a favor and buy Claudio Arrau's nocturnes and you will understand why I consider Rubinstein to be so lackluster.
I listened to a number of Arrau's interpretations of the nocturnes. While he does excel at rubato, I find his cantabile to be worse than Rubinstein's. Take this playing, for example:

Arrau starts off the piece a bit too loud, and follows the rest of the nocturne with somewhat confusing variations in dynamics. The cantabile tone demands clarity but also needs consistent shifting from louds to softs, as a singer is never monotone. I felt that Arrau lacked Rubinstein's tenderness in playing this nocturne, as the beginning of this piece is supposed to sound flitting and ephemeral but is rather presented in too solid a manner. Now, this nocturne has a doppio movimento section at 1:47 which is supposed to be very light, but requires a sudden crescendo at 2:06 reminiscent of one with a high temper bursting into violence. Because the beginning is already quite loud, Arrau fails to deliver the necessary softness at the start of the doppio movimento to make this crescendo noticeable, where as Rubinstein is more successful.

Arrau does, however, surpass Rubinstein in a few other nocturnes through his rubato alone, especially in the popular op. 9 no. 2. But his main downfall is a somewhat faulty articulation of cantabile.

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03-24-2013, 06:41 AM

Messages In This Thread
babby powder - by Turquoise - 08-22-2011, 05:06 AM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by Froge - 03-24-2013, 06:41 AM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 09-13-2013, 03:33 AM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 11-03-2013, 09:48 PM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 11-03-2013, 09:55 PM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 11-05-2013, 02:42 PM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 11-09-2013, 04:06 AM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 11-17-2013, 04:41 PM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 11-26-2013, 01:59 AM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 12-06-2013, 01:03 AM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 12-06-2013, 11:07 PM
RE: The - by Googolplex - 12-10-2013, 08:58 PM
RE: The "What are you listening now?" -thread - by alphachurch - 12-22-2013, 04:24 AM
RE: The - by Googolplex - 03-27-2014, 10:45 PM
RE: The - by Deep One - 07-10-2014, 04:27 PM
RE: The - by Cyberneering - 09-23-2014, 08:21 AM
RE: The - by Googolplex - 10-04-2014, 05:01 PM
Rap instrumentals - by Googolplex - 12-07-2013, 09:49 PM
RE: Rap instrumentals - by Nice - 12-07-2013, 10:05 PM
RE: Rap instrumentals - by Googolplex - 12-07-2013, 10:10 PM

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