Livia Rev, pianist, piano, piano blog, piano teaching, word press, you tube

Livia Rev, pianist, ripens with age

Livia Rev at piano

Livia Rev, a seasoned pianist, ripened by her 99 years on earth, drew my attention during a You Tube search for performances of Chopin’s Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15. (It was at a time when I was studying and teaching the composition.)

The middle section of this work has a notable turbulent emotional shift that’s reflected in a technically challenging set of forte measures in F minor. They come with punctuated accents, and alternating, broken 6ths, 5ths, alongside larger intervals, etc. These roll over a tremulous bass carrying a melodic line that in conjunction with the relentless treble “accompaniment” above, break the spell of the opening “Nocturnal” tranquillity. (Often performers will race the tempo at this juncture in heightened displays of technical prowess.) And sometimes at break neck speed, the interlude can become a continuous blur with little definition, meaning or musical consequence.

nocturne-in-f-major-op-15-p-2

To the contrary, Maestra Lev, in her performance, resisted the temptation to significantly accelerate the parallel minor section, and instead paced it according to her artistic sensibility, still convincingly realizing the mood transition intended! (Unfortunately, this particular Chopin Nocturne video has been removed from Rev’s you tube archives)

Upon reviewing the pianist’s discography, I discovered that many of her performances have been recorded on Naxos and Hyperion labels and can be accessed accordingly.

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Into the Present

A Hungarian born pianist, now living in Paris, Rev still teaches piano at high intensity, keeping a repository of technical skills wedded to expressive musicianship that’s shared among her international cadre of students.

In an enviable mentoring example, Livia demonstrates the supple wrist as an ally to beautiful phrasing, (This is a physical/musical hallmark of her approach to the piano)

 

In the following performance of Czerny studies, Op. 821, the pianist amply puts her ideas into practice in a display of her flexible wrist that often bends beneath the so-called “acceptable” level, inviting critics in pedagogical circles, to decry “the dangerous broken wrist approach.” Nevertheless, Rev’s playing philosophy has worked well for her, and for generations of students who have absorbed her focused concentration and sagacious comments.

REV’s BIO: (WIKI)
Lívia Rév (born July 5, 1916) is a classical concert pianist.

“Rév was born in Budapest, Hungary. She started her studies with Margit Varro and Klara Mathe. Aged nine, she won the Grand Prix des Enfants Prodiges. Aged twelve she performed with an orchestra. She studied with Leo Weiner and Arnold Székely at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, with Professor Robert Teichmüller at the Leipzig Conservatory, and with Paul Weingarten at the Vienna Conservatory, having left Hungary in 1946.

“Rév lives in Paris, with her husband Pierre Aubé.

“She has won the Ferenc Liszt International Record Grand Prix.

“Rév has performed across Europe, in Asia, Africa, and in the United States. She has been the soloist with conductors such as Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind.

“Her first US appearance was in 1963 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Institute.

“She is well known for her light touch and clarity. Her recordings vary from complete Debussy Préludes, Chopin Nocturnes, to Mendelssohn Songs without Words.”

Grigory Sokolov, Irina Morozova, Livia Rev, Murray Perahia, piano, piano methods, piano teaching

Does any one piano method or playing approach work?

Most piano teachers get inquiries from parents who are riveted to “methods.” The most frequently posed question is, “can you tell me how you teach?”

Under duress and painted into a corner, a prospective mentor’s perfect, all-encompassing answer seems unattainable. And upon closer consideration, a boundary limited approach for every student who crosses the threshold or logs in by Skype is virtually impossible.

In the larger sense, I respond with the “singing tone” as my point of departure…interspersing my music vocabulary with “relaxation, fluidity, fluency, the joy of learning, exploring, experimenting.” While I can’t attach myself to a specific method, I can say that I don’t teach Taubman, or represent a pure Russian School approach if it exists. Yet considering all the powerful musical influences in my life including Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich, Ena Bronstein, Eugene Lehner (my chamber music coach); Murray Perahia, my classmate, cruising through the High School of Peforming Arts, and in the past few years, the artistry of Irina Morozova and Grigory Sokolov, their overall contributions synthesized in some way to make my teaching and learning process a never-ending repository of revelation, reflection, and refinement.

Therefore, when I hear about rigid do’s and don’ts encapsulated in a fixed teaching METHOD that’s disseminated for mass consumption, I have my doubts.

Surely in the pedagogical realm, students need guidance about what causes tension, strain, rigidity in their approach to the keyboard, and how the breath can affect phrasing, nuance, swells, resolutions. And the context of a composition, its historical period, structure, theoretical dimension are all part of the creative learning process. But when various choreographies are considered, the music itself is the best guide.

As a perfect example, Livia Rev, a Hungarian pianist, residing in France, performs here in 2010 at age 94. Notice how each Czerny etude with its particular musical landscape is well realized by the pianist through her diverse physical motions that include supple wrist dips (“breaks”) that are frowned upon by strict Taubman method followers. (According to Taubman tenets, these motions are supposed to cause injuries such as carpal tunnel) Yet far as I know, Rev has not been afflicted.

If Livia Rev inhibited her organic response to Czerny’s music, we would be denied the gift of her artistry.

In a touching flashback at age 43 (in 1959) Lev serenades a group of enraptured children with two of Schumann’s Album for the Young pieces. These are charmingly played with impeccable phrasing and nuance.

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Various great pianists have different styles and physical approaches to the piano. Sokolov and Perahia are both poetic players with postural and playing contrasts.

Perahia’s motions are somewhat more economical than Sokolov’s.

In the teaching universe, Perahia’s masterclasses are structurally and theoretically charged in his musical cosmos with little in the way of technical guidance, whereas other artists fuse the technical dimension of playing with matters of phrasing and dynamics.

Snatch of a Perahia Masterclass

Finally, as piano methods abound, one must be circumspect about any approach that is now and forever a perfectly spelled out route to so-called piano mastery. Strike that last word since no one arrives at the golden juncture of perfection simply because there’s always room for growth and development.

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LIVIA REV (WIKI)
Lívia Rév
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lívia Rév (born July 5, 1916) is a classical concert pianist.

Rév was born in Budapest, Hungary. She started her studies with Margit Varro and Klara Mathe. Aged nine, she won the Grand Prix des Enfants Prodiges. Aged twelve she performed with an orchestra. She studied with Leo Weiner and Arnold Székely at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, with Professor Robert Teichmüller at the Leipzig Conservatory, and with Paul Weingarten at the Vienna Conservatory, having left Hungary in 1946.

Rév lives in Paris, with her husband Benjamin Dunn.

She has won the Ferenc Liszt International Record Grand Prix.

Rév has performed across Europe, in Asia, Africa, and in the United States. She has been the soloist with conductors such as Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind.

Her first US appearance was in 1963 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Institute.

She is well known for her light touch and clarity. Her recordings vary from complete Debussy Préludes, Chopin Nocturnes, and Mendelssohn Songs without Words.

"Portrait of Lívia Rév pianist / teaching / 90th Birthda, Bela Bartok, Bela Bartok and Livia Rev, Edna Golandsky, Hungary, Livia Rev, mind body connection, Mozart, music and heart, music and the breath, musical inspiration, musical phrasing, musical phrasing and breathing, phrasing at the piano, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lessons, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano student, piano technique, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Taubman piano method, teaching piano, technique, The art of phrasing at the piano, the art of piano playing, Uncategorized, W.A. Mozart, whole body listening, whole body music listening, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

The Old World playing, like fine wine, of Livia Rev, Hungarian pianist and teacher (see her teaching segments on the pliant wrist)

So now I am into documentaries about piano teachers/performers who leave an eternal imprint on their students and upon the world. Livia Rev is one such special person who belongs in the good company of Irena Orlov, Irina Gorin, and Rosina Lhevinne. Note the frames on Bela Bartok, and Ms. Lev’s connection to– a letter signed by Bartok to Livia. And some bravos about her teaching.

You don’t have to know Hungarian to appreciate the content of this moving profile.

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I stumbled upon a you tube film about Livia two years ago: “Portrait of Lívia Rév pianist / teaching / 90th Birthday”– It showed her teaching a student in Hungarian, and in one riveting segment Lev takes her pupil’s hand and demonstrates the freedom of the supple wrist. She literally rotates the hand around, and then dips the wrist. These frames support the unconventional–they do not regale a frozen wrist or inflexible hand–Edna Golandsky, are you listening? (Taubman followers curiously rule out the “wrist break”) It’s counter-intuitive.

See the following pertinent segments in this short film that apply to piano technique and the wrist.

2:28 to 4:28 as Livia Rev is teaching

and 5:04 to 5:14 A big dip of the wrist in a technical display by the pianist, herself.

One can’t go against nature and refuse to “break” the wrist. I apologize for my over-emphasis.

About Livia at the website:

http://www.forte-piano-pianissimo.com/liviarev.html

LIVIA REV (b 1916)
Hungarian Pianist

“Livia Rev is one of the pianistic marvels of our age. She was born 95 years ago in Budapest, Hungary. She was a child prodigy. She studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, at the Leipzig Conservatory, and at the Vienna Conservatory. She has performed the world over as a soloist with conductors of the stature of Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind, a veritable who’s who of the great conductors of the 20th Century. She teaches, gives master classes, and is still currently playing the piano.

“In her prime, Livia Rev was one of the world’s greatest interpreters of the music of Chopin. The recordings of the 24 Preludes Opus 28 are among the finest the writer has ever heard, and as he wrote these words, he was tempted to place them at the top of his list.”

Like the writer, I favored Livia’s Chopin as exemplified in this reading: Chopin Nocturne in F Major

Even more musical ambrosia is offered in these Chopin Preludes recorded in 1988 when Livia was 74:

If there are any fluent Hungarians out there, please render a translation for the impatiently waiting Internet audience.

Link:

Livia Rev’s Official Website. She currently resides in France.

http://www.livia-rev.com/en