By Kenneth Hamilton
Kenneth Hamilton's e-book engagingly and lucidly dissects the oft-invoked fable of a good culture, or Golden Age of Pianism. it truly is written either for gamers and for individuals in their audiences by way of a pianist who believes that scholarship and clarity can move hand-in-hand. Hamilton discusses in meticulous but full of life aspect the performance-style of significant pianists from Liszt to Paderewski, and delves into the far-from-inevitable improvement of the piano recital. He entertainingly recounts how classical concert events advanced from exuberant, occasionally riotous occasions into the formal, funereal trotting out of predictable items they are often this present day, how a regularly unhistorical "respect for the rating" started to substitute pianists' improvisations and variations, and the way the scientific customized arose that an viewers might be noticeable and never heard. Pianists will locate nutrients for concept right here on their repertoire and the traditions of its functionality. Hamilton chronicles why pianists of the prior didn't continually commence a section with the 1st notice of the rating, nor finish with the final. He emphasizes that nervousness over improper notes is a comparatively contemporary psychosis, and enjoying fullyyt from reminiscence a comparatively fresh requirement. Audiences will stumble upon a bright account of the way vastly varied are the recitals they attend in comparison to live shows of the earlier, and the way their very own position has decreased from noisily energetic individuals within the live performance adventure to passive recipients of creative benediction from the degree. they'll observe whilst cowed listeners ultimately stopped applauding among hobbies, and why they stopped speaking loudly in the course of them. The book's extensive message pronounces that there's not anything divinely ordained approximately our personal concert-practices, programming and piano-performance types. Many points of the trendy technique are unhistorical-some laudable, a few purely ludicrous. also they are a long way faraway from these fondly, if deceptively, remembered as constituting a Golden Age.
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Extra resources for After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance
Arthur Seidl (Mainz: Schott, 1983), 292. 24 AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE from this era has been regarded as a useful subject for such studies even by musicologists, who are usually keen to discover hitherto unnoticed problems that urgently await publishable solutions. The alleged existence of a ‘‘continuous performance tradition’’—a less ﬂashy version of the Great Tradition—implies that we all really know how to play romantic, and even classical music in roughly the way its composers envisaged it. As late as 1980, Howard Mayer Brown in the notorious ‘‘performing practice’’ article of the penultimate edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians—for twenty subsequent years the ﬁrst, and sometimes the only, port of call for English-speaking music students in search of a quick infusion of historical wisdom—declared emphatically ‘‘there is no lost tradition’’; commenting further: ‘‘Individual masterpieces have often been neglected for long periods, but there has been no severance of contact for postBaroque music as a whole, nor with the instruments used in performing it.
Whether one actually wishes to reproduce them nowadays is a separate question, but many of them, however frequently ignored, belong as ﬁrmly to the performance practice of romantic piano music as a historically informed interpretation of ornaments does to that of the eighteenth century. It is ironic that some players are happy to scour often dry and dusty early-classical treatises for advice on performing mordents but balk at the arguably much less onerous task of listening to a crackly disk by Arthur Friedheim for hints on how to play Liszt, let alone study the recordings—and even ﬁlm—of the much-maligned Paderewski.
A very famous one, but not great. Hofmann was another—I heard him many times. [Leopold] Godowski was one of the greatest technicians, but his playing was boring. ’’36 Arrau did have a good word to say for Horowitz, but just when we might think that Rachmaninoff ’s reputation also might be pumped up a little (‘‘A really great pianist . ’’), we get some speedy deﬂation (‘‘. . 37 Whether we agree with them or not, we must concede that these were not simply ignorant comments by pontiﬁcating reviewers who would have difﬁculty distinguishing Bach from Offenbach, but sincere assessments of great musicians by great musicians.