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Thread: Piano concerto v symphony

  1. #16
    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    For me, it depends on when they were written. Symphonies were the really big musical statements during the Romantic era. I can only think of very few really big and serious Romantic concertos but a huge number of big Romantic symphonies. But concertos (including piano concertos) seem to me to have grown in importance and symphonies to have become less likely to be successful major statements in the modern era. I suppose symphonies were the big statements in the Classical era, too - Haydn developed them to play that role and Mozart's later symphonies are probably among the most serious music he wrote. His wonderful piano concertos were more for display.
    The Hyperion Romantic Piano Concert series is now up to volume 80, and that is presumably only the "better" ones, for the most part. It might be that they were favored mostly by composers who themselves were at least proficient on piano. I suspect that the piano concerto grew in importance as the production of the instruments notably improved, and improvements were made, in part, as a reflection of increasing demands on the instruments.
    Last edited by JAS; May-24-2020 at 18:22.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAS View Post
    The Hyperion Romantic Piano Concert series is now up to volume 80, and that is presumably only the "better" ones, for the most part. It might be that they were favored mostly by composers who themselves were at least proficient on piano. I suspect that the piano concerto grew in importance as the production of the instruments notably improved, and improvements were made, in part, as a reflection of increasing demands on the instruments.
    I love that Hyperion series. There's an awful lot of gems they've uncovered - some really beautiful and exciting music. Great? Maybe not, but who cares? It's wonderfully entertaining. Decades ago Vox led the way with Michael Ponti and a bunch of 2nd and 3rd rate European orchestras, but the Hyperion series is utterly first-rate and professional. And there are still so many they haven't gotten to - maybe never will. Hard to believe they still haven't recorded the Raff works, or all of the Rubinsteins. Best of all, you can pick them up for a fraction of their original price at Berkshire.

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  4. #18
    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    I suspect that they are intentionally mixing better and lesser known works, and trying to shine a light on works that have no other recordings. (Many of the "lesser" concertos really benefit from a first rate soloist and a committed performance.)
    Last edited by JAS; May-24-2020 at 18:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    For me, it depends on when they were written. Symphonies were the really big musical statements during the Romantic era. I can only think of very few really big and serious Romantic concertos but a huge number of big Romantic symphonies. But concertos (including piano concertos) seem to me to have grown in importance and symphonies to have become less likely to be successful major statements in the modern era. I suppose symphonies were the big statements in the Classical era, too - Haydn developed them to play that role and Mozart's later symphonies are probably among the most serious music he wrote. His wonderful piano concertos were more for display.
    I respectfully suggest the composer himself would have seen that as a somewhat false dichotomy. He wrote to his father at least once that I can think of about some of his concertos being "for the connoisseur".
    Last edited by Animal the Drummer; May-26-2020 at 14:37.

  6. #20
    Senior Member DeepR's Avatar
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    As much as I enjoy certain piano concertos, I prefer symphonies in the end and, if we must compare, there are simply no concertos out there that come close to the level of my favorite (= the greatest :P) symphonies.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeepR View Post
    As much as I enjoy certain piano concertos, I prefer symphonies in the end and, if we must compare, there are simply no concertos out there that come close to the level of my favorite (= the greatest :P) symphonies.
    I think this is true for the most successful ("greatest?") symphonies--that they can deliver more than can a concerto. But once that reservoir of such symphonies is exhausted and we are now on a lower but broader plateau of selection, a concerto begins to outweigh (for me) any number of humdrum symphonies. Tchaikovsky would be an example.

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    I love symphonies as well! Just indicating which form I prefer and why.

    Of course, all forms of music have the capability to communicate meaning and emotion...could just be a solo guitar player in a bar.

    Doesn't have to be orchestral...But clearly, since it is used so much in advertising and cinema, the full orchestral sound is kind of guaranteed to reach our emotions.

    I think we are discussing here subtle areas of expression - does the piano add to or subtract from the overall impact? For me, no doubt because I love the piano so much, it clearly adds to the impact, if properly orchestrated.

  9. #23
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    In the '70s I played clarinet in the local symphony when we did one of the Rachmaninoff piano concertos. Great experience. When I hear it I think of that night.
    tomheimer.ampbk.com/

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    Alas … I wish more composers wrote Concertos for Orchestra -- best of both worlds.

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  12. #25
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    Okay. .

  13. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    I think this is true for the most successful ("greatest?") symphonies--that they can deliver more than can a concerto. But once that reservoir of such symphonies is exhausted and we are now on a lower but broader plateau of selection, a concerto begins to outweigh (for me) any number of humdrum symphonies. Tchaikovsky would be an example.
    I agree. Mahler and Bruckner trump any concerto, but I prefer the piano concertos of Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms to their respective symphonies (as well as those of Dvorak, Schumann, etc.) There seems to be a more personal narrative in the concertos, as other posters have said.
    Last edited by Isaac Blackburn; May-28-2020 at 16:50.

  14. #27
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    Mahler and Bruckner "trump any concerto" for you maybe, and that's fine, but an objective statement it is not. Those piano concertos which you (rightly IMHO) find so rewarding are all, every single one of them, more meaningful and enjoyable to me than anything Bruckner and especially Mahler ever wrote. I admire the craft in their symphonies, but as musical experiences they generally leave me cold.
    Last edited by Animal the Drummer; May-28-2020 at 17:24.

  15. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal the Drummer View Post
    Mahler and Bruckner "trump any concerto" for you maybe, and that's fine, but an objective statement it is not. Those piano concertos which you (rightly IMHO) find so rewarding are all, every single one of them, more meaningful and enjoyable to me than anything Bruckner and especially Mahler ever wrote. I admire the craft in their symphonies, but as musical experiences they generally leave me cold.
    I don't know about this. While music is a subjective experience, there is a certain level of objectivity to comparisons. I can say, for example, that the Mahler 5 is a larger and more varied emotional canvas than the Tchaikovsky 2, a claim which emerges out of the number and character of different movements. And I doubt that one would have objective grounds to claim the opposite.

    The great piano concertos are very meaningful and cathartic experiences. It is just that the symphonies, free from the fetters of a solo part, are more conducive to great statements. Done poorly, these great statements become monotone, blunt and bland. Done well, they are unparalleled.

  16. #29
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    I agree in part with both Isaac Blackburn's and Animal the Drummer's posts above. The devil is in the details of the output of any given composer--the degree to which we are moved by the specific pieces considered. The point, though, about the concerto being a more personal voice or narrative for a composer is well taken. In the case of Brahms, I am at a loss to select between the symphonies and the concertos. With Tchaikovsky as I mentioned, and also Dvořák, Rachmaninoff, maybe Prokofiev, and some others I'll think about later, the concertos have it.

  17. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal the Drummer View Post
    I respectfully suggest the composer himself would have seen that as a somewhat false dichotomy. He wrote to his father at least once that I can think of about some of his concertos being "for the connoisseur".
    I do not think that is a disagreement on Mozart's part. But the later symphonies involved a lot more rigorous, innovative and worked through writing and are clearly (surely?) bigger statements than his concertos.

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