By Kenneth Hamilton

Kenneth Hamilton's ebook engagingly and lucidly dissects the oft-invoked fable of a superb culture, or Golden Age of Pianism. it truly is written either for avid gamers and for individuals in their audiences via a pianist who believes that scholarship and clarity can cross hand-in-hand. Hamilton discusses in meticulous but vigorous aspect 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 live shows advanced from exuberant, occasionally riotous occasions into the formal, funereal trotting out of predictable items they are often at the present time, how a frequently unhistorical "respect for the rating" started to change pianists' improvisations and variations, and the way the scientific customized arose that an viewers may be visible and never heard. Pianists will locate foodstuff for suggestion the following on their repertoire and the traditions of its functionality. Hamilton chronicles why pianists of the prior didn't regularly commence a bit with the 1st notice of the rating, nor finish with the final. He emphasizes that anxiousness over unsuitable notes is a comparatively fresh psychosis, and taking part in fullyyt from reminiscence a comparatively contemporary requirement. Audiences will stumble upon a bright account of the way vastly assorted are the recitals they attend in comparison to concert events of the prior, and the way their very own function has decreased from noisily energetic members within the live performance event to passive recipients of creative benediction from the level. they'll observe whilst cowed listeners finally stopped applauding among hobbies, and why they stopped speaking loudly in the course of them. The book's huge message declares that there's not anything divinely ordained approximately our personal concert-practices, programming and piano-performance types. Many points of the fashionable method are unhistorical-some laudable, a few purely ludicrous. also they are a ways faraway from these fondly, if deceptively, remembered as constituting a Golden Age.

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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. 30 Yet he was no doubt perfectly sincere—if perhaps a trifle deluded—in his remarks. Virtually every era is golden to someone.

Our practical view of what a ‘‘pianist’’ should be like today is ironically rather closer to the model of his great rival Thalberg. 41 To a certain degree the future belonged to his interpretatively consistent and visually unostentatious aesthetic—he would probably have made a very reliable recording artist. His obsession with producing a ‘‘singing’’ tone on the piano was one that he shared with many of his era, but his achievements in that regard were both original and enduring. In this respect Liszt and many others openly learned from him.

32 AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE Steinway as possible is a not uncommon approach. We choose what we want to choose. The picture presented in this book is a movie rather than a snapshot, for performance practice necessarily evolved over the period we are discussing and continues to do today. ’’ No overview can be complete, but the following chapters will attempt to delineate some of the most important aspects of pianism that characterized the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This will inevitably raise the question of whether we should strive to feature more of them in a modern pianism that seeks to be ‘‘historically informed,’’ or even just a bit different from what is now the run of the mill (surely a worthy end in itself ).

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