Post by Neil Post by HT Post by AB
so why do you leave out Solomon who does not fit that description
(not to mention Grosvenor) :-))
I forgot to mention Grosvenor as a fabulous technician and a rather
superficial musician. If Hamelin, then Grosvenor. <g> I wouldn't call
Solomon a fabulous technician. Beethoven specialists usually aren't.
Solomon was't a Beethoven specialist by any means. As for his technique, I
think his peers in awe.
That reminds me of an anecdote Charles Rosen told about Solomon:
"The performances I remember which gave me that kind of mystical
experience that Leon [Fleisher] was talking about - I once heard Solomon
play the Prelude and Fugue in C Minor from the second book of The
Well-Tempered Clavier. And I had never heard Bach played like that. He
didn't bring anything out, and you could hear everything. It wasn't the
performance of the fugue where the main theme is mezzo forte and
everything else was piano. You heard everything - it was transparent.
And he just sat there and played the thing, and it was breathtaking.
And I went home and practiced like mad, thinking I should be able to do
- maybe someday I could do something like that."
from the Rountable of Pianists video
Rosen expands on the anecdote in his book "Piano Notes":
"In the 1940s and 1950s the academic way of playing Bach by those who
persevered with him on the piano in the teeth of the propaganda for the
harpsichord felt that the correct approach was one of sober restraint,
and this approach was sanctified by the teaching in the academy. In
playing a fugue, it was always thought to be important to bring out
every appearance of the theme with the other voices held to a subsidiary
dynamic level: in this way a fugue was realized as a series of mezzo
forte entries of the theme extrated like plums from the rest of the
texture, which formed a sort of background cake of neutral flavor. This
method did not benefit the fugues of Bach, in which, after all, the
principal interest lies not in the main theme but in the way the theme
combines with the interesting motifs of the other voices, themselves
often derived from the theme itself.
"Once in Paris in the 1950s I heard a performance by the English
pianist Solomon of a fugue from the Well-Tempered Keyboard that was a
revelation: it was the C minor fugue from the second book, and the
listener was convinced that Solomon brought nothing out and that
nevertheless one could hear every note in each voice. The tone quality
was the simple, unified cantabile considered appropriate for Bach at the
time, the tempo a calm, reflective movement, and the balance of the
sonorities was so exquisite that the performance, stylistically correct
or not, was deeply moving. I have always had a great admiration for an
artist who appears to do nothing while achieving everything."