Sunday, March 05, 2006

Comparing different performances...

This past week, I listened to many different recordings of Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto. Three of the famous pianists were: Alfred Brendal, Arthur Schnabel, and Arturo Benedetti. I listened to about 5 different performances of the concerto with 5 different orchestras. It was very interesting to hear several different interpretaions of this piece (especially since there will be 2 different performances of this piece at the concerto performance). It was very surprising how different all of the performances really were. Something so little, such as the opening 'C' minor scales were very different with each pianist. Some were VERY clear and presice, while others went for effect and blurred some of the notes together. The most significant differences had to do with articulation. About a minute into the concerto there are 2 arpeggios in the piano part (the first in G major and the second in B flat major). I heard at least three different ways of simply playing the arpeggios. Some of them played with very short staccatos, and others played it VERY legato. Besides the articulation, some of the recordings also had different dynamics. At one point there are runs with both hands down the piano into a big arpeggio. One of the pianists crescendo'd all the way to the arpeggio and another decrescendo'd. In the middle section there is a page of octaves arpeggiated out all the way up and down the piano, starting from G major, to F minor, to A diminished to B flat minor to B diminished and finally ending back in C minor. One pianists played all of them very staccato and barely any pedal, while another pianist used much more pedal and had more of a legato feeling to it.
The cadenza was pretty much different with every performance. In the cadenza there were even tempo differences. Some of them seemed much too fast while others seemed like they were dragging. My favorite of the performers was Alfred Brendal. His cadenza seemed the most appropriate, in my opinion. Overall, every pianists was amazing and I really enjoyed listening to all of the different interpretations of the piece.

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