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Thread: Ivo Pogorelich is back!

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Well, the hair's somewhat less flamboyant these days, but he's still got those very recognisable eyes!

    I had a few of his DGG recordings on LP, and loved them. Here was a young lively pianist, great to listen to, and who avoided the sort of money-making "Pogorelic Plays Kitsch" labelling. His Gaspard de la Nuit is a desert island disc for me. Some of his recordings are a bit eccentric, and I don't listen to some of them any more.

    I still don't really know how and why he fell from grace, and it "all went wrong", and hope he's back for real.

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    Interesting news, thanks. As regards the degree of eccentricity, we'll find out
    Last edited by joen_cph; Apr-04-2019 at 17:30.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    Interesting news, thanks. As regards the degree of eccentricity, we'll find out
    Yes. I hope is producer will force him to use normal tempos; otherwise, that will need to be a 2 or 3 CD set! (He has a nearly hour long Liszt Sonata on YouTube--surely he has tempered his glacial tempos these days.)

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    Great news! He is one of the first pianists I ever grew fond of, after hearing his Pictures at an Exhibition when I was 14 or so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Well, the hair's somewhat less flamboyant these days, but he's still got those very recognisable eyes!

    I had a few of his DGG recordings on LP, and loved them. Here was a young lively pianist, great to listen to, and who avoided the sort of money-making "Pogorelic Plays Kitsch" labelling. His Gaspard de la Nuit is a desert island disc for me. Some of his recordings are a bit eccentric, and I don't listen to some of them any more.

    I still don't really know how and why he fell from grace, and it "all went wrong", and hope he's back for real.
    He went into a psychological tailspin after his wife died from liver cancer (she coughed black blood in his face as she died), then his father died. He withdrew from concerts and recording for a while, and when he emerged neither he nor his playing were recognizable. (Shaved head, glacial tempos, extreme dynamics, just loud banging, etc.) From what I gather he's slowly returning to form. We shall see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontrapunctus View Post
    He went into a psychological tailspin after his wife died from liver cancer (she coughed black blood in his face as she died), then his father died. He withdrew from concerts and recording for a while, and when he emerged neither he nor his playing were recognizable. (Shaved head, glacial tempos, extreme dynamics, just loud banging, etc.) From what I gather he's slowly returning to form. We shall see.

    The extreme slow tempos are there in the DG recording of the Ravel Valses Nobles et Sentimentales.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Apr-17-2019 at 07:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontrapunctus View Post
    Shaved head, glacial tempos, extreme dynamics, just loud banging, etc.



    Quote Originally Posted by Kontrapunctus View Post
    From what I gather he's slowly returning to form. We shall see.
    Hmmmmmmmmm
    Last edited by Mandryka; Apr-17-2019 at 07:16.

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    Great pianist!
    I have not yet had the opportunity to listen to his Ravel recording, but I really like his piano playing.
    I recently download on iTunes his Mozart / Sonatas for piano Kv 283 and 331 (Deutsche Grammophon, 1995).

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    I've just found Talk Classical! What a piece of Gold to stumble over!! Now.. Ivo.. I lived in London for 20 years starting in 1980 and one night went to hear him play at the RFH. From memory had never heard of him before that night. Tchaikovsky 1 with Claudio on the podium. What I clearly remember was being emotionally stopped during the slow movement, he seemed to not only have extreme control of his tempo but of my breathing at the same time. It was the biggest moment for me in live music performance I had ever experienced at that point. What I didn't know was that the following morning he, the orchestra & Claudio went up to north London and cut the disc. Which I still have nearly 40 years later. I'm thrilled to hear he has returned and would travel a long distance to hear him live once again.. PabloJB

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    Quote Originally Posted by PabloJB View Post
    I've just found Talk Classical! What a piece of Gold to stumble over!! Now.. Ivo.. I lived in London for 20 years starting in 1980 and one night went to hear him play at the RFH. From memory had never heard of him before that night. Tchaikovsky 1 with Claudio on the podium. What I clearly remember was being emotionally stopped during the slow movement, he seemed to not only have extreme control of his tempo but of my breathing at the same time. It was the biggest moment for me in live music performance I had ever experienced at that point. What I didn't know was that the following morning he, the orchestra & Claudio went up to north London and cut the disc. Which I still have nearly 40 years later. I'm thrilled to hear he has returned and would travel a long distance to hear him live once again.. PabloJB
    Pablo, welcome to TC!

    If you want to listen to Pogorelich, you can start booking your trips based on this agenda:
    http://ivopogorelich.com/schedule/

    I am most curious to find out about his upcoming Sony recordings. Am also a fan of many of his old DG recordings. Beethoven sonata 32 is still my number one to go to and Ravels Gaspard. I also have an obscure release of Chopin's music from the Warsaw Chopin competition he didn't win, causing former winner Martha Argerich to quit the jury. Great playing. But if he is still upto it, I don't know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post





    Hmmmmmmmmm
    Not very promising...

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    This however is of interest, be it from 2001. It's Rachmaninov, which composer will also be on his first Sony release. This fits his personal style of his earlier DG recorded work:

    https://youtu.be/PPaJyfDP7JQ

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    Kontrapunctus writes, "... glacial tempos, extreme dynamics, just loud banging, etc."--from what I've heard, I tend to agree.

    Pogorelich did release a Beethoven Piano Sonata recording on IDAGIO (www.idagio.com) in 2016, but it was only available as a download here in the states: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH5evfzSco0. So he isn't newly "back" from that standpoint. Although granted, Pogorelich's IDAGIO Beethoven was his first recording since his DG years.

    https://slippedisc.com/2016/10/just-...ecord-silence/

    Sometime after the period of mourning over his wife's passing, Pogorelich announced that he'd changed his piano technique. From what I can tell, it sounds like he pounds on the keys more heavily than before, apparently with the aim to use the piano more as a percussive, orchestral-like instrument, in order to achieve a wider range of expressive effects. I don't go for that myself. When I hear a pianist bang on the piano keys, I tend to pull back, and find my mind wandering, away from the music. Nor is it part of the Beethoven-Liszt-Siloti tradition or lineage that Pogorelich has claimed to be descended from, through the teaching and training of his late Georgian wife, Aliza Kezeradze.

    It's also a misunderstanding of Liszt's teaching (& probably Czerny, Beethoven, & Mozart's, too): since we know from Claudio Arrau's studies with Martin Krause, Liszt's favorite last pupil--as well as from other reminiscences of Liszt students--that Liszt taught his students to avoid spending all of their technical reserves in a recital, so that they would always appear to have more reserves than they actually needed or were using, and that Liszt disliked loud, showy, and overly fast playing. By various accounts, Liszt would become livid when new students displayed virtuosity merely for the sake of virtuosity--that is, without imagination and an understanding of the profound poetic allegory that exists within music. Besides, Pogorelich didn't need to change his technique. It was already remarkable.

    Here's a 1981 quote from Pogorelich on what he had learned from his wife (reprinted from Wikipedia):

    "First, technical perfection as something natural. Second, an insight into the development of the piano sound, as perfected by the pianist-composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, composers who understood the piano both as a human voice ... and as an orchestra with which they could produce a variety of colors. Third, the need to learn how to use every aspect of our new instruments, which are richer in sound. Fourth, the importance of differentiation."

    There was also an old Moscow Conservatory story that didn't name Pogorelich directly, but slyly spoke about a pianist of his era at the conservatory, who could technically mimic other's interpretations brilliantly, but had no interpretations of his own; implying that Pogorelich, if he was indeed the 'unnamed' pianist, as some have supposed, received his interpretations from his wife, & was able to technically mimic whatever she gave him, and without her, he was lost.

    I don't know if there's any truth to that story, or if it's about another Moscow trained pianist who people mistook for Pogorelich. But if there isn't any truth, it's a cruel thing to say, & likely stems from some petty jealousy, which of course exists in conservatories. Although maybe the actual truth lies somewhere in between, considering that Kezeradze was unquestionably a major, vital influence on Pogorelich's piano playing during the late 1970s, 80s, & 90s, up until her death in 1996, by his own admission (see the below quote: "Before, proposals and solutions had been offered to me like jewels on a silver tray [by Kezeradze]..."), and therefore, his DG recordings were, to some extent, a beautiful collaboration between them. In 2006, he discussed the importance of Kezeradze to his life, her highly demanding artistic standards, and her death, in an interview with Die Wielt:

    "I had to reinvent myself. She was so demanding. She clothed herself in art, she absorbed it, devoured it. She was so universal. She had everything, class, education, beauty, talent and affection. She outshone everything like a comet. You could never stand still with her, that's true, she was always on the go. Even in death she was still the princess she was born as. She had cancer of the liver. When she died her liver exploded, and in her last kiss she showered me with black blood. I looked like the Phantom of the Opera. My hair was completely clotted. I didn't want to wash it off. When they condoled us with champagne I was still covered in her blood. But everyone understood. It was like with Jackie Kennedy who didn't want to change the dress that was spattered with her husband's brain. I was happy so early in my life, I knew now I would have to stand on my own two feet. It just took a long time. "I couldn't touch the piano because my memories flooded out like Niagara Falls. It took time before I could be creative again. Before, proposals and solutions had been offered to me like jewels on a silver tray. Aliza knew I could do that myself too. But I needed time, because she had shaped me the way you sharpen a knife every day. When Aliza came into my life I was 17 and at a dead end with my piano studies. I wasn't getting anywhere, I wanted to dance but wasn't even able to walk."

    I suppose the best way for Pogorelich to now honor Kerezadze's teaching and her faith in his great gift is to make a series of Sony recordings that are as good as, if not better than his earlier DG recordings. I'll be rooting for him, as I treasure his DG recordings, and count a number of them as 'desert island' discs in my piano collection: such as his brilliant Beethoven Op. 111, his richly imaginative Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit & Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 6--which won a Rosette from the old Penquin Guide, his fascinating two Haydn Piano Sonatas--which I'd rank alongside Brendel & Gould's Haydn, and a dazzling Schumann Toccata, Bach English Suites 2 & 3, Scarlatti, and Scriabin...

    Beethoven Op. 111: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE2iyBRmA_g
    Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqzTInRIw5s
    Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHLFjVIYKQo
    Haydn Piano Sonata No. 46 in E-flat major: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4ZvrsdIbq4
    Schumann Toccata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUHobIa3TL0
    Bach English Suites 2 & 3:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BojPbhE816c
    Scarlatti Sonatas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yBQlZ06G40
    Scriabin Piano Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 19 "Sonata Fantasy":https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJR07HKlbIQ

    Personally, I'd like to see him record more Bach myself, as he has a special gift for Bach (& Haydn, Beethoven, & Scriabin, too), which was already evident in his youth, long before he ever met Kezeradze:



    Indeed, Pogorelich might take his cue from another Russian-trained pianist, Vladimir Feltsman, who likewise had derogatory rumors floating about him--i.e., that he was overrated and over hyped, due to all the attention he'd been given over his political defection to the West, when in reality he was only an average pianist: rumors that Feltsman later silenced by making a series of highly acclaimed Bach recordings. When a pianist plays Bach's music well, it's difficult to disagree or criticize...

    I also think that Pogorelich should consider playing works by modern & contemporary composers, as well as early 20th century composers, such as Claude Debussy. Now that would be interesting! (Here's a clip of the young Pogorelich playing Debussy's "Bruyeres" in 1978: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5u596VTUUM.)

    As for Pogorelich's health, he has said that he suffers from hepatitis. Here's another paragraph from the same Wikipedia page: "Pogorelić suffered chronic rheumatic fever during his childhood and hepatitis when he was 21, which left him with a legacy of extreme care for his health. He practises the same biodynamic exercises created for Russian ballet dancers in the 1920s, takes long walks daily, goes to bed when night falls, and rises at 5:30 a.m."* (*taken from Stephen Pettit, "Intense and sensitive" (feature on Ivo Pogorelić), ABC Radio 24 Hours, April 2000.)

    As for the questions surrounding his mental health, which sometimes gets unfairly linked to his tendency to choose glacial tempos, it should be pointed out that Pogorelich has always had a tendency for slow tempi. It was in evidence as early as the Warsaw Chopin competition, where Martha Argerich famously resigned as a judge, due to Pogorelich's dismissal in the 2nd round, declaring him "a genius". It was also, I believe, a part of his Russian training, considering that there are other important Russian trained pianists that slow down as well--such as Sviatoslav Richter, Valery Afanassiev, Maria Yudina, etc. In fact, it's not so unusual for a Russian pianist to slow down considerably in the romantic music of Schubert, Brahms, Chopin, or Liszt, more so than Western pianists.

    I must admit that I used to find some of Pogorelich's Chopin Preludes, Brahms Intermezzi, and Mozart Piano Sonatas maddeningly slow!, but over time, I've gradually changed my mind about these recordings, and I don't find them too slow, anymore. Rather, Pogorelich has changed how I see the music. In addition, I've always found Pogorelich to be highly intelligent and thoughtful in interviews, starting with the very 1st interview I ever read with him, which he gave to David Dubal in the 1980s (it's included in Dubal's book, "Reflections from the Keyboard").

    Yet, if Pogorelich doesn't manage to make his comeback quite as special as his earlier DG years, it won't diminish my esteem for his artistry, as I'll always consider him one of the great pianists of his generation.

    P.S. The new Sony recording will be released on August 23, 2019, here in the United States: https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Pia...s=music&sr=1-1
    Last edited by Josquin13; Aug-13-2019 at 20:12.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    His discussion of his wife is very moving, but really, every artist can only be eventually shaped by themselves and not an outside force and somehow he lost himself because of his love for her. Maybe he can make it all the way back and find that naturalness again. I hope so even if he’s not there yet. At his best, some of his earlier recordings are just phenomenal. But it’s difficult when genius turns into eccentricities and the artist cannot seem to tell the difference. What he played of the Beethoven piano sonatas number 22 and 24 I thought were outstanding, even transcendental... monumental. He evidently has lost nothing in the way of his technique and I hope he finds peace for himself.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Aug-14-2019 at 04:37.
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