Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Mystery (and Dilemma) of My Own Reactions to Performance...

To begin with, the following description of my experiences with  the process of listening to great music does not serve in any way as a critique; only as an observation:
I  decided, earlier in the week, to listen to one of the leading pianists of our time - the young Russian living in Germany, Igor Levit. He is not yet thirty, and already considered a major force among the eminent keyboard artists today. I have heard him before, of course; however, I felt that I should offer myself a higher degree of concentration this time around.
There was the Beethoven 30th Sonata, followed by the Goldberg Variations. I completed my listening with a  portion of the First Partita.
Levit is indeed a marvelous pianist.  The sounds emanating from the instrument have a transcending level of  beauty at  all times, and his ways of developing a statement are compelling and wonderfully comprehensive.
I then found myself putting together a mini-compendium of performances of other young pianists among the leaders of keyboard  contemporaries, and the results pretty much leveled off in similar fashion - and there lay my dilemma; specifically:
All performers involved were highly gifted - no question whatsoever. They all impart world-class levels in whatever they have committed to the recordings I heard. Essentially, they all perform as well as any pianist I know, as   regards tactility with the instrument.
But not one made the atmosphere around me eddy as I expect the great artist to do.
I was moved by the wonder of their playing, but not with the music they were unfolding  to me. It is veritably as if  the music was written by ONE  person writing in the styles of Bach, then of Beethoven, or Rachmaninoff etc. There, for me, seems as if  no separation from one cosmos belonging to one composer, to another,  is being created- almost as if there is one and only one language adorned by tangential alterations in stylistics.  How strange. When I listen to Horowitz , at around age thirty,  transfix me with his grasp of the Liszt Sonata; or Lipatti, who did not survive his youth, doing a Chopin Nocturne; or  Andsnes, in his early twenties, in his first reading of the
 Rachmaninoff 3rd, my world becomes a part of theirs.
But then, I thought of Busoni, one of the post-Lisztian giants, in his Vorsetzer   recordings done in the first decade of the 20th century - how naive his playing is to me. How different these pianists were during that period, and how much greater was the musical offering given me from Rachmaninoff on.
A dilemma? Perhaps so. Again, my reactions are not any form of critique; perhaps, not even opinion.
All I am sure of is the reality that change is a constancy...



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