Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If You Like That Sort of Thing... what I feel obliged to say when I recommend highbrow music. This is because for many people, most classical music is annoying pretentious rot yet they often feel they have to pretend to at least admire if not enjoy it.

Traditional tails'n'white tie concert hall performances are as ritualized as a rock/rap concert. ('C'mon! Put those hands togethuh! Yeah!') The setting must be opulent or vast or tastefully subdued. The performer must convey his communion with the music even if he is in fact, merely performing mechanically, going through the motions, but with a level of skill that makes the difference negligible.

Some of those reverent hand movements are mechanical: lifting the hands slowly off the keys like a final farewell reminds the pianist to relax, remain  limber. The expressions are often sincere, a genuine attempt to seduce the music into making love with the artist. Legendary pianist Artur Schnabel gave wise advice on this matter:

Here, equally legendary comic, Sid Caesar gets it wrong in all the right ways, and takes Schnabel's advice to the bank:

First Recital

Here, not quite legendary but only because his career made a virtue of quiet servitude to the music, Alfred Brendel plays a piece that exemplifies all that is beautiful about the music and some of what is bemusing about classical performance. There is no audience so we are graciously spared that bit of pretentious rot. Indeed.

Schubert Piano Sonata No 21 D 960 B flat major

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