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Thread: Who is your favorite of the new generation of pianists?

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    Senior Member Sofronitsky's Avatar
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    Default Who is your favorite of the new generation of pianists?

    I suppose I should say 'current' favorite, as all our opinions are likely to change.


    In any case, share your favorite pianist aged 18 - 35 (I wanted to include somewhere between Haochen Zhang/Benjamin Grosvenor and Alexander Kobrin - whether this is accurate 'generation' or not I don't care.) and your reason why they are your favorite.

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    Senior Member Sofronitsky's Avatar
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    I think that Rafal Blechacz is perhaps the greatest young pianist living today. In my book, he stands with the few pianists who can claim to have reached the highest level in technical skills, rubato, and expressionism. I look forward to seeing how his depth of understanding the music he plays develops and increases over time. As it is, though, he is the most interesting young pianist for me to listen to.

    Last edited by Sofronitsky; Mar-27-2014 at 05:30. Reason: added the word young

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    The pianist begins playing a few seconds after 02'15'' :-)

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    I'm honestly not familiar with too many newer pianists. I mainly prefer older recordings with older pianists and I don't really care about things that are "HIP".

    But I did hear Inon Barnatan (Born 1979, and I think he's 34 so still under the age of 35 listed in the original post) on the radio one day playing a couple Schubert Piano Sonatas and thought they were excellent.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    In one way or another, they all seem mentally deficient to me. Maybe because I expect them to have Hamelin's understanding of Alkan, Sokolov's understanding of Haydn, Weissenberg's understanding of Chopin... well, I could go on, but you must know what I'm doing by now.
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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukko View Post
    In one way or another, they all seem mentally deficient to me. Maybe because I expect them to have Hamelin's understanding of Alkan, Sokolov's understanding of Haydn, Weissenberg's understanding of Chopin... well, I could go on, but you must know what I'm doing by now.
    I more than tend to agree. The link with the Chopin sounded like one of those 'modeled after' type of performances vs. anything which comes from a deep familiarity with the score and from within the performer. Sort of that imitative 'copy this rendering by a master' approach vs. any sense personal communication or spontaneity.

    Of course, there is a school of thought that no one much under forty is going to deliver anything worth much else, and what are these performers supposed to do in the meanwhile, sweep up somewhere?
    Last edited by PetrB; Mar-28-2014 at 01:44.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    I more than tend to agree. The link with the Chopin sounded like one of those 'modeled after' type of performances vs. anything which comes from a deep familiarity with the score and from within the performer. Sort of that imitative 'copy this rendering by a master' approach vs. any sense personal communication or spontaneity.

    Of course, there is a school of thought that no one much under forty is going to deliver anything worth much else, and what are these performers supposed to do in the meanwhile, sweep up somewhere?
    Yeah, that is the obvious problem with my approach. However, there have been notable exceptions, even doing it my way. Perahia in his mid-twenties recorded some very good, thoughtful Schumann, for instance. Peter Serkin recorded some very good Mozart in the late 70s, and looks pretty young on the cover of the RCA LP set containing the K.397 and 475 Fantasias, the K.457 and 533 sonatas, the K.485 and 511 rondos (from 1977).

    Hell, there is a good chance that I am a victim of "frozen assets" in my dotage. Some of those young fellers may be super.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Jeremy Denk is a special favorite of mine, aside from all the notoriety he's gotten lately. His repertoire is much broader than his recordings might suggest. Anybody who loves the Goldbergs MUST have his new recording. Not optional.

    Another is Vadym Kholodenko, who won the most recent Van Cliburn competition. His "Three Pieces from Petruchka" (recorded) is astonishing. He may turn out to be all flash, but -- what flash!
    Last edited by KenOC; Mar-28-2014 at 02:31.


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    Senior Member Cosmos's Avatar
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    Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov are two great pianists, IMO. I also really like Benjamin Grosvenor after hearing his performance of Britten's piano concerto

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    Senior Member Sofronitsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukko View Post
    In one way or another, they all seem mentally deficient to me. Maybe because I expect them to have Hamelin's understanding of Alkan, Sokolov's understanding of Haydn, Weissenberg's understanding of Chopin... well, I could go on, but you must know what I'm doing by now.
    While I agree that the musicians you've listed do have great maturity and depth of understanding in their interpretations, I do not subscribe to the opinion that young pianists cannot provide fine interpretations.

    It seems almost ludicrous to me that there is a school of thought dismissing interpretations of great music made by young musicians when sometimes the composers of such music were younger than the performers themselves when they had created the piece in question!

    I do respect your opinion, however, and I can see how one can have this opinion if you're into the idea that when a composer creates a masterpiece that composer has created something beyond their own being and understanding.
    Last edited by Sofronitsky; Apr-01-2014 at 21:36.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sofronitsky View Post
    While I agree that the musicians you've listed do have great maturity and depth of understanding in their interpretations, I do not subscribe to the opinion that young pianists cannot provide fine interpretations.

    It seems almost ludicrous to me that there is a school of thought dismissing interpretations of great music made by young musicians when sometimes the composers of such music were younger than the performers themselves when they had created the piece in question!

    I do respect your opinion, however, and I can see how one can have this opinion if you're into the idea that when a composer creates a masterpiece that composer has created something beyond their own being and understanding.

    There were only so many master composers who were also master performers.

    There are many pieces which are generally thought 'not for the young,' and the technical aspects of those are not the hurdle, nor is it a matter of something as basic or 'simple,' of not getting the flow of the musical narrative, understanding and bringing out the architecture, if you will.

    Some pieces are now understood to require outside life experience which, without being anything directly applicable to the performance of the piece, nonetheless give a depth of emotional experience within the performer which is then brought to the piece, a depth which is nigh impossible for even the most intelligent and emotionally sensitive younger performer to deliver.

    Too, with much of the now standard repertoire, we have a collective history of incredible in-depth performances by mature performing masters. The bar, de facto, has been raised on expectations of what we hear.

    You might be a very fine young player, with all the technique and something to say, but when it comes to concertizing, you are up against Claudio Arrau, Wilhelm Kempff, etc when playing that Beethoven Sonata or Mozart Concerto.

    The Chopin performance you posted did to me sound like an 'imitative' of all that is really good and within the style rendering -- we would say 'the piece is not yet entirely his.' Was it bad? Not in any way, really, but his psychological age, to me, was showing. Sometimes, too, if you make too many nods in the direction of other great performances, the chance of your performance sounding fresh and spontaneous exponentially decreases.

    I already said, with some real humor I hope, that just because a fine performer is still young, one cannot expect them to stay out of the business of performing until they are forty years old :-)

    There is a reason, though, that most young pianists are expected by management and others within the industry to first essay performances of the mid to late romantic repertoire. That repertoire is more 'forgiving,' i.e. broad strokes and panache and technical displays are suitable, without a requirement for the emotional maturity and depth of refinement now expected if one is playing Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, etc.
    Last edited by PetrB; Apr-01-2014 at 22:26.

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  19. #12
    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sofronitsky View Post
    [...]
    I do respect your opinion, however, and I can see how one can have this opinion if you're into the idea that when a composer creates a masterpiece that composer has created something beyond their own being and understanding.
    Also note my post (#7) that mentions exceptions. In PetrB's post (#11) he mentions 'outside' life experience. That may be a factor in the 'depth' of interpretations, I dunno. I am pretty sure that outside life experience differs among individuals, both in substance and in how the substance is assimilated. This is why copying an interpretation by Arrau or Horowitz is unlikely to be wholly successful - those guys had life experiences that shaped their minds, and you ain't going to have those experiences.

    Argh... I just had a zephyr-thought drift through - that those experiences happened in a world that is gone forever, and that is somehow significant... what? How? Jeez, this whole post may be an example of mental flatulence, eh?

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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    I really have no idea. At least my favorites is alive though.
    "That as s."

    - Mark Twain

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    Senior Member shadowdancer's Avatar
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    If new generation means "still alive": Murray Perahia, Daniel Barenboim and Ivo Pogorelich

    If new generation means "young": Yundi Li (Chopin) and Lang Lang (Prokofiev 3)

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    Within the last twenty years and a good bit into the future...Lewis, Berezovsky, Demidenko, MAH, Feltsman, Melnikov, Mustonen, Sudbin, Bavouzet, Tharaud, Angelich, Boffard.

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