By Kenneth Hamilton
Kenneth Hamilton's publication engagingly and lucidly dissects the oft-invoked fable of an exceptional culture, or Golden Age of Pianism. it really is written either for avid gamers and for contributors in their audiences by way of a pianist who believes that scholarship and clarity can cross 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 live shows advanced from exuberant, occasionally riotous occasions into the formal, funereal trotting out of predictable items they are often this present day, how a regularly unhistorical "respect for the rating" started to exchange pianists' improvisations and diversifications, and the way the scientific customized arose that an viewers could be obvious and never heard. Pianists will locate nutrition for proposal the following on their repertoire and the traditions of its functionality. Hamilton chronicles why pianists of the earlier didn't constantly commence a bit with the 1st observe of the rating, nor finish with the final. He emphasizes that nervousness over incorrect notes is a comparatively contemporary psychosis, and taking part in completely from reminiscence a comparatively fresh requirement. Audiences will come upon a brilliant account of the way tremendously various are the recitals they attend in comparison to concert events of the earlier, and the way their very own function has lowered from noisily energetic individuals within the live performance event to passive recipients of inventive benediction from the degree. they'll become aware of whilst cowed listeners ultimately stopped applauding among routine, and why they stopped speaking loudly in the course of them. The book's huge message broadcasts that there's not anything divinely ordained approximately our personal concert-practices, programming and piano-performance types. Many points of the trendy procedure are unhistorical-some laudable, a few in simple terms ludicrous. also they are some distance faraway from these fondly, if deceptively, remembered as constituting a Golden Age.
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Additional resources for After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance
We get some speedy deﬂation (‘‘. . 37 Whether we agree with them or not, we must concede that these were not simply ignorant comments by pontiﬁcating reviewers who would have difﬁculty distinguishing Bach from Offenbach, but sincere assessments of great musicians by great musicians. You cannot, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, please all of the people all of the time. We can scarcely deny that the players of the past had remarkable talents, remarkable gifts, and unique personalities, but we should any rate, however true Alan Walker’s description of this performance as ‘‘an impressive feat’’ might be, his declaration that ‘‘no-one was aware of the injury he had sustained’’ (Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years [London: Faber and Faber, 1983], 299) requires some modiﬁcation in the light of Busoni’s response.
It was, to say the least, very unlikely that modern performance styles simply emerged, fully ﬂedged, one bright morning in 1820. Just as signiﬁcantly, the striking upsurge in the availability of, and interest in, hitherto almost forgotten early recordings added a long overdue aural component to philosophical discussions on the development of romantic performance practice. Recordings from the 1890s onward, now easily accessible on CD, document undeniably profound changes in performance practice.
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. In fact, the aged Liszt’s almost static demeanor at the keyboard—what Sauer called his ‘‘classic pose’’42—had more in common with Thalberg’s majestically upright posture, allegedly developed by smoking a Turkish pipe while practicing,43 than with that of his own younger self.
After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by Kenneth Hamilton