Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A View of the Pianist in the 21st Century - Some Thoughts...

With the explosion of a plethora of rather incredible hand-held devices now available to the public, it is now possible, for instance, to  bring in and listen, via wireless technique, to any one of thousands of radio stations from virtually any part of this shrinking planet.
And so, I have been imbibing in listening to Jazz, to Broadway, to Blues, to great pop vocalists from Yesteryear, and, mostly, to Classical music. - all these,  from many different countries, let alone the U.S.A.
One of the most interesting stations is from Mother Russia, which I believe is called "Caprice", which pretty much deals with the Sonata from various historical placements;primarily, keyboard works.
One of the most interesting, veritably fascinating aspects is how this station will put on a  Scarlatti Sonata, performed on the harpsichord, after a number of pieces have been played on the piano. It seems to me a kind of encomium given to Scarlatti, as a recognition of the priceless prescience of the great composer as his works directly influenced the conceptions of the coming piano composers. And we have proof of the struggles Russian musicians had for a period of time as they clambered out of their insulation to eventually understand and embrace the musical vocabularies of the West. And so, possibly, this particular radio station is giving belated 'thanks'  to one of the great European composers.
Also; in listening to the myriad of various pianists now available over stations such as this particular one from Russia, I am wondering, in increasing measure, whether I am becoming a witness to a renascence of the period directly after Liszt  ; that is, a time when one miraculous player of the piano appeared after another, with so few of them emerging as truly great musicians. The Vorsetzer recordings of the 20th Century's first decade pretty much bear this out, from my view.
Am I hearing this event once again?
I am listening to one absolutely riveting performance after another, by pianists whose names I either am not familiar with, or know little about.
But so few of these performances fail to move the atmosphere around me.
It may very well be that the technology of teaching in our time has given us large numbers of pyrotechnicians 
who are virtually incapable of playing a wrong note. It reminds me a bit of what Beethoven remarked about
the increasing number of pianists having increasing techniques while at the same time they were gliding over the true content of his music as their digital powers increased.
Have any of the readers of my blog the same general reaction? I would love to know...



Blogger Peter Vinton said...

I suspect it may, in part, be yet another case of the technology zipping just a teensy bit ahead of the artist's ability to process it (not unlike computer technology or indeed the internet in general). I'm guessing that, at the eleventh hour and by the merest skin of his/her teeth, a composer/artist/creator will figure out how to "reign in" the new tech and deliver a piece of music so overflowing with the essential creativity and passion, that it will shatter everyone's expectations. Perhaps that individual is already among us, just waiting to emerge?

July 20, 2013 at 9:14 AM  

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