It's all about the music, dude! Sit down, relax and listen to some tunes.
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San Francisco Symphony 100th Ann special
|Posted on August 1, 2012 at 17:22:27|
Location: Washington, D.C.
Joined: August 8, 2007
Did anyone else see the the San Francisco Symphony 100th anniversary broadcast on PBS last night? I found it a fascinating snap-shot of the current state of (classical) musical performance.
I think Lang Lang sometimes has an underserved bad rep. His nickname "Bang Bang" is offensive on several levels, pricipally because though he has faults, he does not "bang" but actually has quite a delicate touch.
Lang Lang is easy to pick on. He does not cut a dashing figure as a performer (there were too many close-ups in last night's telecast of Lang Lang's rather unfortunate facial expressions and strange mannerisms). He's admittedly a bit of an ogre but you don't need to be dashing or good looking to play music well and I cannot fault Lang Lang's technique. His taste however, can be a weakness. I don't think that the Liszt Concerti bring out the best in his style of playing.
In the wrong hands, the Liszt Concerti have an extraordinary tendency to degenerate into bombast and vulgarity. I think successful performance of these works requires performers to walk a tight-rope between extreme extroversion and virutuosity on one hand and extraordinary serenity, taste and restraint on the other (the qualites of this music represent Liszt's split personality as a priest/show-off). This music absolutely demands understatement and restraint to come off well. Very few performers can walk this tight-rope successfully. Lang Lang alas is not one of them. He has the technique in spades but lacks the taste to bring this music off. He should leave it to others (just listen to the extraordinary recordings by Sviatoslav Richter and Zoltan Kocsics to find out what I mean).
Morever, I don't think Michael Tilson Thomas (who I greatly admire) had anything important to say musically in either the Liszt or the Mendelsohn Concerti in last night's program. I found his accompaniments rather dull.
On the other hand, Tilson Thomas' verbal commentary on the music and Orchestra were as articulate and beautifully expressed as ever. He clearly loves music. He just needs to learn to play some of it better.
In this regard, Itzhak Perlman's performance of the Mendelsohn Concerto came as breath of fresh air. I don't know how many times in the last ten years or so, I have had to sit through some young "virtuoso" sawing and hammering away at this music (producing a great deal of sound and tone but little else).
Perlman shows how a violin should be played. There's such an economy of strenous effort in his playing (does not require it) and so, so much music. Perlman sounds poetic, soulful, restrained, noble, passionate, and humble. I could listen to him play every day.
I would like to say to the younger generation, "learn from him."
|Glad you mentioned Kocsis in the Liszt Concertos, posted on August 1, 2012 at 22:09:43|
Chris from Lafayette
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Since: February 6, 2012
|I feel that his recording may not be known as much as it deserves - too many recordings of these works vying for attention.|
|Will Be Looking For the Broadcast - Bugs Bunny & Louis Farrakhan, posted on August 2, 2012 at 08:16:36|
Joined: December 28, 2009
It should be aired here in Chicago, sooner or later.
The best performance of anything of Lizst was by Bugs Bunny and an errant mouse [4 hands/paws], in concert.
Next to that, I second the Richter Lizst.
Can't wait to hear the Mendelssohn; one my fav pieces. Haven't heard Perlman do it. BTW, did you know that Louis Farrakhan plays it? There's even some video of him playing. He learned it as a child, and was apparently trained as a violinist. Yes, that Louis Farrakhan.