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Thread: Composers Playing Their Own Works

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    Default Composers Playing Their Own Works

    I've recently taken an interst in composers playing their own works. I've owned "Kreisler Plays Kreisler" for years, but I've never really taken into account how valuable they are. With music written how it is, it's sometimes difficult to identify exactly how they should be played, and hearing the composer play it is the best possible. I'm currently listening to Rachmaninov playing his second piano concerto. Does anyone else here share this interest?

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    Senior Member zlya's Avatar
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    Have you heard Gerschwin's piano rolls? I found them . . . surprising. His interpretations were not what I expected, and not actually my favorite. What do you think about liking an outsider's interpretation better than the composer's own?

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    Indeed.

    Most of the living people are composer performers, just like in the old days: Tim Hodgkinson, Chris Cutler, Keith Rowe, Akita Masami, Christian Marclay, Lionel Marchetti, Jerome Noetinger, Pauline Oliveros, Joan LaBarbara, Diamanda Galas, Pierre Boulez, Gerard Pape, to name just a trifling few. The elecroacoustic crowd go around performing their pieces, too, though that doesn't involve anything more exciting to watch than pushing a pot or spinning a knob. You go to concerts though for the listening part, right?

    Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram perform in and conduct the Hyperion Ensemble, which Iancu founded in 1976. All members of the ensemble, and such guests as Hodgkinson and Cutler, are wildly talented. (This "Hyperion Ensemble" is from Romania and is not to be confused with the Hyperion Ensemble formed in Salzburg in 1996.)

    Otherwise, some dead guys, like Copland and Stravinsky, played their own works. Copland's generally considered an OK performer of his own stuff. I like his performances quite a lot. Stravinsky's vary from so-so to the best of the lot. (I like his Oedipus and his Le Baiser better than any others.) I have recordings of Prokofiev doing his own stuff.

    And I have a recording of Elgar doing his own Enigma Variations at an unsettlingly fast clip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    Have you heard Gerschwin's piano rolls?
    I have not heard Gershwin's but I have heard a Mahler piano roll of the 1st movement of the first symphony, picking up where the 1st theme begins after the "tempo-free" introduction (Ging heut' morgen uber felds).

    There is so much rubato... It makes one wonder if Mahler really meant the orchestra to play it this way, or if this was just his way of "freestyling" the melody at the piano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    And I have a recording of Elgar doing his own Enigma Variations at an unsettlingly fast clip.
    There are some piano improvisations recorded by Elgar out there also.

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    Hindemith recorded some of his viola works.
    There are recordings by Granados, Saint-Saëns,Prokofieff,Shostakovich,Ravel,
    Debussy,Enescu,Casella and many others.
    Enescu recorded second and third violin sonatas with Lipatti, and THAT is a
    marvellous historical recording!!.

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    Hindemith recorded some of his viola works.
    And hes conducting work is also avaiable on records. I have some works from RAI broadcasts. The same with Stravinsky.

    There are recordings by Granados, Saint-Saëns,Prokofieff,Shostakovich,Ravel,
    Debussy,Enescu,Casella and many others.
    Scriabin, Elgar, Bartok...

    I have a cd in which Ravel is supposed to play some of his piano works, but recently dicovered many pieces there come actually from Robert Casadesus.

    Shostakovich does an excellent job playing his piano concertos. One of the best recordings of the works, IMO.

    Even though Hamelin recorded some, I don't think you will find better recordings of the Kapustin ouvre than the ones made by the composer himself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    Have you heard Gerschwin's piano rolls? I found them . . . surprising. His interpretations were not what I expected, and not actually my favorite. What do you think about liking an outsider's interpretation better than the composer's own?
    Yes, that was an issue I thought about. I don't really like Kreisler's interpretations which seems kind of silly, but I think other people do them much better! Makes you wonder whether some composers intended to make their works as great as they are.

    I liked Rachmaninov, he seemed very in control and brought out the good aspects of the piece very well.

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    I don't really like Kreisler's interpretations which seems kind of silly, but I think other people do them much better!
    They are just poetry...

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    I have already listened two composers performing their own works:
    - Reynalodo hahn, at the piano, singing his own songs;
    - Francis Poulenc playing piano as a singer performed songs of his (the singer was not as talented as the pianist, alas);

    Very moving, but not as perfect as professional singers can do. But we do not love composers for their interpretation. I suppose that Mozart performing the queen of the night would have been very funny, but that is not what people precisely expected him to do! -- nevertheless, i saw him conducting his own music in “Amadeus” – he was Great!

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    Senior Member Handel's Avatar
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    I would give anything to see and listen to Handel's improvisations on harpsichord.
    At first, I discovered the wonders of classical music through the marvels of its baroque period and especially those from Mr. Handel, which explain my forum nickname. About 10 years ago, my interest leaned over classical period and Herr Haydn's production. The music bus recently drove me to the early 1800s. Where will it end?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Handel View Post
    I would give anything to see and listen to Handel's improvisations on harpsichord.
    I think they are OOP now. Those cheap minor labels...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Handel View Post
    I would give anything to see and listen to Handel's improvisations on harpsichord.
    Oh I think I'd kill for the opportunity to hear any baroque, classical or romantic master perform or improvise.

    Anyway, has anyone heard recordings on those funky waxen phonograph cylinders? Now THAT is something.

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    Oh I think I'd kill for the opportunity to hear any baroque, classical or romantic master perform or improvise.
    Add just one more century to that list, and you won't have to do any killing at all. (I can think of only one concert I've attended in the past three years that did not feature a living master performing or improvising.)

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    Senior Member Morigan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    Add just one more century to that list, and you won't have to do any killing at all. (I can think of only one concert I've attended in the past three years that did not feature a living master performing or improvising.)
    Yeah, I just have problem with people while they live. They're so much more loveable once they're buried

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