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Haydn on the harpsichord or piano? (Competition interlude)

elaineshandshubbardScreen Shot 2015-06-27 at 5.07.40 PMElaine Comparone insists that playing Haydn’s works on the harpsichord stirs her “imagination to new heights.”

The harpsichordist’s upload of Haydn’s eloquent Sonata No. 52 in Eb Major ironically paralleled Reed Tetzloff’s piano performance in Moscow which introduces an aesthetic comparison or two.

Reed’s You Tube channel features the opening Allegro movement, https://youtu.be/q6l2qguKhik
while his complete sonata rendering can be replayed on Medici: Round one, XV Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. (Start at 6:30 in track: the second offering on the grid that follows his Bach selection)

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-1-piano-2015-06-18-1550000300-great-ha

Elaine’s inspired performance of the towering late Haydn sonata is worth an attentive ear to detail in anticipation of her astute comments about playing the composer’s masterpiece on the harpsichord.

“In the late 18th century the pianoforte gradually replaced the harpsichord, but the original editions of almost all of Beethoven’s keyboard sonatas up to Opus 27 (1800-1801) bear the inscription: “Pour le Clavecin ou Pianoforte” (“For the Harpsichord or Piano”). Haydn prescribes harpsichord for his solo keyboard sonatas as late as his E minor Sonata (H. XVI: 34) first published in 1784. In letters from March and April of 1789 he refers to his C Major “Clavier” Sonata (“keyboard” sonata—a generic designation) and he includes a middle movement with the title “Adagio per Clavicembalo o Piano-Forte” (“Adagio for Harpsichord or Pianoforte”).

“All this shows that harpsichords were still widely used around 1800 and that music publishers were eager to accommodate the players and owners of the older instruments as well as those of the more modern ones. Haydn’s keyboard music is stylistically interchangeable between harpsichord and piano, except for the slight proliferation of dynamic directions absent in most harpsichord music. (Modern, non-urtext editions add many more dynamic markings than Haydn’s original ones.)

“Why not merely play and record these pieces on a piano? As a harpsichordist, my major argument is that it has been done many times in the “modern” era. Why not try a fresh approach? The harpsichord has a sound with unique acoustical qualities not shared by either modern or early pianos. I do not regard “early music” as the sole property of those who play antique instruments or modern replicas. Pianists who play modern grand pianos clearly share my opinion as is evidenced by their many performances and recordings of music by Bach. But, at the same time, their performances of Mozart, Haydn and even Beethoven are farther away from the aural imaginings of these composers than harpsichord performance might be. Harpsichord sound stirs my imagination as piano sound never did. That is why I try to play whatever music lends itself to the instrument. As long as it is idiomatic, I will play it!”

After listening to Elaine and Reed’s performances, make your own judgment about what is pleasing the ear and why.

Finally, I asked Maestra Comparone why she chose to “sit this one out,” since she’s well-known for standing at the harpsichord:

“Standing at the harpsichord was a pose requiring an audience.
#1. It added to the complexity of the harpsichord move.
#2. I had four sonatas to record. Standing requires more energy. I had to save energy, not to expend it needlessly.

“Standing was useful when I played LIVE with the entire QCB (Queen’s Chamber Band). Elevating the instrument aided in projection. My colleagues preferred to stand when possible so we all liked to be on the same level.

“In a recording session, the instrument didn’t have to be elevated to be better seen or heard. The camera and recording equipment took care of that. Also, if it had been elevated, it would have been next to impossible to accomplish overhead shots of the keyboard, so we all agreed that simplicity was the key to a smooth and successful recording session.”

***

LINKS
ELAINE COMPARONE
http://www.harpsichord.org

https://www.youtube.com/user/ecomparone

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/aglow-with-creative-fire-my-nyc-visit-with-harpsichordist-elaine-comparone/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/a-visit-with-elaine-comparone-at-her-harpsichord-palace-in-new-york-city/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/the-harpsichord-has-a-new-lease-on-life-elaine-comparone-is-its-biggest-advocate/

REED TETZLOFF
You Tube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgfaN5SV7Wq5Mgb37khY7ZQ

Tetzloff REPLAYS Round 2 (Tchaikovsky Competition)

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-2-piano-2015-06-21-1630000300-great-ha

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-2-piano-2015-06-24-1830000300-great-ha

Uncategorized

Tchaikovsky Competition, Round ONE: My favorite performers and those undeservedly overlooked who never made it to Round 2

First a big congratulations to George Li, whose opening recital earned him passage to the next round. He’s scheduled to play today, Sunday, June 21, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight time. (1 p.m. EDT)

George Li today

Li’s Program:

Sergei Rachmaninov. Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42

Franz Liszt. Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 in C-sharp minor, S. 244 (cadenza by Sergei Rachmaninov)

Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Meditation, Op. 72,5; Valse de salon, Op. 51,1

Frederic Chopin. Variations “La ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, in B flat major Op. 2 (Jan Ekier edition)

Those who missed George’s opener, can revisit it on the Replay.
http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-1-piano-2015-06-19-1300000300-great-ha

For consistency of high artistry through the opening recital featuring the works of J.S. Bach, (for Classical: Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven), Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, my selected pianists were George Li,(USA), Reed Tetzloff (USA), Alexander Ullman (Great Britain), Andrejs Osakins (Latvia), and Sergey Redkin (Russia).

Sadly, Ullman and Osakins were cut, though I feel their Replays are worth a listen.

I’ve described George’s performance as a “triumph” for its synthesis of emotion and intellect added to its mature musical dimension given the pianist’s tender age of 19.

And while competitor, Adrejs Osakins, had a heart-breaking stumble in his otherwise beautifully rendered J.S.Bach Prelude and Fugue, he retrieved his bearings in remaining works to a noble conclusion. (Osakins was cut from Round Two)

A catch fire, communicative pianist, Osakins joins George Li in the total immediacy, and ear-catching spontaneity of his playing with its varied colors and emotional shifts. He produces a gorgeous sound without offensive banging in FFs or sFzs, and his dynamic palette is rich and diverse.

The Latvian has risen well beyond myriads of notes played with flying fingers, to produce melt your heart playing when needed, and has thunderous interpolations with the right degree of passion. Sadly, he’s off the roster.

In summary, what stands out about Li and Oskins is their degree of risk-taking that creates excitement. If we listen to Perahia, Sokolov, or any of the pianistic giants, there’s the element of surprise amidst emotional peaks and valleys while impeccable technical/musical control feeds inspiration.

And finally, those performers who make us feel like we’re engaged in a here and now act of discovery, experiencing our first sunset so to speak, as metaphor, are for me the compelling musicians.

Andrejs Osakins Opening Recital on Replay

Osakins

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/piano-1er-tour-3

Sergey Redkin, a round two survivor, is yet another choice for notable artistry through his first round recital opener.

Control is a strong ingredient of his playing and perhaps he can surrender to the music a bit more here and there but overall his sound is engagingly gorgeous, and each period of composition was exceptionally realized. Without doubt, the pianist kept judges upright and awake during his first round recital particularly one in camera range, who periodically nods off during un-captivating performances.

Sergey Redkin

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-1-piano-june-16-1250

Reed Tetzloff, a Masters in Musical Performance student at Mannes, played a lovely recital, hallmarked by a magnificent rendition of Haydn’s Eb Sonata, Hob. 16/52. His musical sensitivity is keen and he’s a great communicator. With a permeating singing tone, nursed along by his Russian teacher, Prof. Pavlina Dokovska, he’s well on his way into the Second Round.

Reed

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-1-piano-2015-06-18-1550000300-great-ha

And finally, Ullman, who was refused passage to Round 2, is a sensitive musician and communicator. His tone and expression were worthy of recognition but perhaps the kind of playing that drew cheers for its shear volume was top priority for adjudicators.

Ullman

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-1-piano-june-16-1705

Hopefully, revisiting performances through replays will give some of the overlooked pianists, the exposure they deserve.

The list of pianists who advanced to the Second Round

Sergey Redkin
Maria Mazo
Reed Tetzloff
Ilya Rashkovsky
George Li
Lucas Debargue
Lukas Geniušas
Daniel Kharitonov
Julia Kociuban
Mikhail Turpanov
Nikolay Medvedev
Dmitry Masleev

LINKS

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/a-triumph-for-pianist-george-li/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/medici-tv-presents-free-live-stream-of-the-xv-international-tchaikovsky-competition-from-moscow/