By Kenneth Hamilton
Kenneth Hamilton's ebook engagingly and lucidly dissects the oft-invoked fantasy of an outstanding culture, or Golden Age of Pianism. it truly is written either for avid gamers and for individuals in their audiences by way of a pianist who believes that scholarship and clarity can pass hand-in-hand. Hamilton discusses in meticulous but energetic element 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 day, how a frequently unhistorical "respect for the rating" started to substitute pianists' improvisations and variations, and the way the medical customized arose that an viewers might be noticeable and never heard. Pianists will locate meals for proposal right here on their repertoire and the traditions of its functionality. Hamilton chronicles why pianists of the earlier didn't continuously start a section with the 1st notice of the rating, nor finish with the final. He emphasizes that nervousness over unsuitable notes is a comparatively contemporary psychosis, and taking part in totally from reminiscence a comparatively fresh requirement. Audiences will come upon a shiny account of the way tremendously varied are the recitals they attend in comparison to live shows of the prior, and the way their very own position has lowered from noisily energetic contributors within the live performance event to passive recipients of creative benediction from the level. they're going to observe whilst cowed listeners ultimately stopped applauding among pursuits, and why they stopped conversing loudly in the course of them. The book's huge message announces that there's not anything divinely ordained approximately our personal concert-practices, programming and piano-performance types. Many features of the trendy procedure are unhistorical-some laudable, a few in basic terms 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
At best these are partial truths. According to Moriz Rosenthal and other pupils, Liszt’s was largely a wrist and ﬁnger technique. 39 This is, perhaps, hardly surprising. The pianos Liszt grew up on and played during his virtuoso heyday required far less strength of attack than the cast-iron-framed leviathans familiar to later concert audiences. Declaiming his virtuoso music at full volume on a modern Steinway requires the participation of virtually every muscle group anatomically available, but the enthusiastic employment of arm weight on an 1840s E´rard merely forces the tone and strains the action.
The Cambridge Companion to the Piano (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 57–74. The world of singing, among others, also has a frequently discussed Great or Grand Tradition; see, for example, J. B. Steane, The Grand Tradition: Seventy Years of Singing on Record (London: Duckworth, 1974), and John Rosselli, Singers of Italian Opera: The History of a Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 20 AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE before 1867, when Steinway and Sons scored an overwhelming success in the Paris International Exhibition with its iron-framed, overstrung grand, was originally intended for instruments signiﬁcantly different from the modern concert piano (here deﬁned for convenience, though tendentiously, as a Hamburg or New York Steinway Model D).
29 Although it is indeed rather strange that so many distinguished rival performers, including Hambourg and Vladimir de Pachmann as well as Paderewski, come out badly from Rubinstein’s reminiscences, numerous performances and recordings testiﬁed that his preferred manner of playing was radically different from Paderewski’s—in a nutshell, more modern. Any discussion of the evolution of these and other stylistic differences will, however, only be useful to current players, and only be credible to musicologists, insofar as they focus on practical and veriﬁable issues of performance practice rather than on the wistful ‘‘there were giants in those days’’ attitude that Abram Chasins strikingly shared with Homer and the authors of the Old Testament.
After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by Kenneth Hamilton