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Thread: Composer pianist tradition

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Default Composer pianist tradition

    I'd like to see it more alive these days? Perhaps there are more people active than I am aware?

    I'm getting interested in listening to composers-pianists play their works or improvisations. Medtner, Kapustin, Thelonius Monk, Rachmaninoff, Hamelin, Art Tatum. Piano rolls open up older things and I've been hugely impressed with Gershwin's playing.
    Last edited by clavichorder; Apr-25-2013 at 15:58.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Frederic Rzewski has quite a reputation, and the high admiration of many a pianist, as having the technique to deliver an impressive range of tone color, power, etc.
    In the 'Ballades' thread, I've posted his Four North American Ballades (performed by their dedicatee Paul Jacobs.)
    A link of his fifth ballade, written independent of the set of four, is performed by the composer.

    Joseph Fennimore:
    a seriously fine and 'intelligent' composer is quite the formidable pianist, here performing his Concerto Piccolo for piano and orchestra. (love this piece.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGC1L48Saow
    This composer playing Brahms, D minor Rhapsody
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQNjKYXOyEM

    Charles Wuorinen is another formidable composer / pianist, and has performed one or more of his piano concerti with major orchestras (until April 15th last, he was the youngest composer to have won the Pulitzer prize - at age 32 in 1970; just got 'bumped' by this years winner, age 30:-)
    Wuorinen ~ Piano Concerto No. 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLdENvC6VH0

    Alfred Schnittke was the pianist (prepared piano) on the recording of Part's Tabula Rasa.

    To hear Prokofiev playing Prokofiev would make you weep, because he had such an uber velocity he plays all far too fast -- a typical composer / pianist flaw, their being so familiar with the music that they forget how others hear. It is nonetheless 'breathtaking' virtuosity.
    Recordings of Ravel playing Ravel have the same 'problem.'

    Stravinsky ~ Piano sonata (the uploader has switched the order of the movements, though listed them as such (?)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTGoqle4m34

    I laugh when I read a question as to 'the best recorded performance' of music of Rachmaninov' - he recorded much of it, and not having that 'Prokofiev / Ravel' flaw, there you go, an infamously virtuosic pianist / composer playing his own work.... nothing like going to the source when you can.

    Without doing a tally, it seems that most of 'the big boys and girls' well knew their way around a keyboard more than enough to play their own works, those not being much limited in the way of technical requirements.

    I would be curious to know if there is one really worthwhile piano concerto written by a non-pianist, since there are numerous instrumental concerti written by non-players of the solo instrument :-)

    [ADD: Leonard Bernstein knew his way around a piano, but his recording of the Ravel G major is one of the most painfully bad 'high end' performances of that work I have yet to hear. END ADD]

    P.s. If you stumble across a link to Thelonius Monk's Lulu in the solo piano recording, I'd appreciate your sending it my way :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Apr-28-2013 at 02:38.

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    How have I never heard that Stravinsky sonata?

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    How have I never heard that Stravinsky sonata?
    Dear Fellow: you state yourself you are young.

    The only other of Stravinsky's solo piano pieces (a very small part of his overall works) quite directly as neoclassical is:
    Serenade en La, that more Franco / Italianate as a suite, the Sonata more North European 18th Century contrapuntal.

    The Sonata is perhaps more tricky than 'difficult,' but tricky and difficult can be equal and interchangeable. It is a LOT of fun to play :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Apr-29-2013 at 08:09. Reason: Sp.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    I´m not wholly up-to-date with later developments, but can´t think of any interesting ones alive other than Kapustin either.

    There are a few fascinating Scriabin rolls too, including a complete sonata movement, also on you-t, such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTTHm1KWrj4, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGot4ZSIkqs

    Niels Viggo Bentzon (1919-2000) wrote a lot, including 13x24 "Preludes & Fugues" and many sonatas and concertos. He recorded a bunch of these works too, the earlier works being by far the most interesting. The recording of sonatas 4+5 (Fona LP issue) is definitely worth hearing, for instance. But nothing on you-t, it seems.

    Samuil Feinberg recorded very little of his own music, but it´s fascinating to hear him IMO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFvI89CL1G4

    And there´s Shostakovich´s recordings of some of the piano works, the selected "Preludes & Fugues" and the Concerti being the most interesting. Examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTSr2oz15Xk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TcW-K3rXDE

    Bartok also recoded some Bartok, such as the "Suite op.14" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1R-g7a9vVAU and the "Sonata for 2 Pianos": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMTuOsGE9ho The later recordings made by his wife Ditta are not good (Concerto 3).

    Ilya Bergh (1927- ) is an obscure, flamboyant local figure here of Russian origins, but never got a break-through. There´s a documentary in Danish here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV4xJylfKDI. Very little recorded too, and apparently no really important works.

    Also, there are a few Busoni piano rolls - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyABEniTRSw etc.

    And Medtner played Medtner, often in a rather robust or slow style http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGjxy4Q4VCU

    Probably more, but these are on top of my head.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    In terms of composer pianists, Britten was a pretty good pianist, though he usually just chose the role of accompanist.

    Andre Previn was (is) also a fine pianist who seemed to be able to play anything from classical to light music to jazz.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Here is Rzewski playing Beethoven, Appassionata

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbsRVw5v3Yk

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    Senior Member Kazaman's Avatar
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    The Turkish composer Fazil Say is a very good pianist.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    a Few More:
    Robert Helps ~ Three Etudes for piano
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg0X5isZFF8
    Three Hommages
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzcmFHsh38M

    Not sure if William Bolcom is 'up to' a concert level presentation of his Twelve New Etudes, though I would be surprised if he could not play them more than 'well enough.'
    Here, as rendered by one in the top three of my very least favorite / cared for or about contemporary pianists
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1e8TV6CG5c

    Bolcom accompanies singers in his own songs, quite holding his own there... and playing the compositional field from the Etudes ranging to popular cabaret :-)
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTdWQdxCUFM

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