This might be difficult, but can you give a hint in what direction you’d like to take it, or what you feel is missing in the recordings you’ve heard?
He never lost that. Several of my favorite performances of his are from when he was in his high 80s. There were memory lapses etc, but the sound he drew from the instrument was incredibly beautiful. Much more so than it had been even during the 90s.
It’s mostly to do with atmosphere. No one fully captures the mood as I feel it. It might be due to the writing and the inherent qualities of the piano. For example, the characteristic RH figures, it’s never shimmering enough for me. I don’t need to hear all the notes, just the effect. Pianists do a much better job with the long fluid arpeggio figurations. There are also some things that I wouldn’t follow Ravel’s markings in, for example I would start the “Retenez” leading to the climax earlier than indicated. Also at the end I would have a faster tempo than at the beginning.
It sounds like you want it the way I want it, though I’ve never thought about the tempo idea at the end. I guess it’s a matter of what you imagine happens with the Ondine after the climax. I think it works slow too for the soothing effect it has, and since it works well artistically to close the narrative by bringing us back to where we were at the beginning, but I agree a fast ending where the nymph never really settles would be interesting too.
Yeah, I can certainly appreciate the symmetry that comes with returning to the opening tempo but for me the ending should have tension just below the surface which is why I like a slightly faster tempo (although if a pianist could achieve it using the opening tempo I would probably be fine with it). I don’t want it to be soothing.
Randomly, I don’t really see much of a connection with the poem apart from the depiction of water. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, a literal interpretation in sound would be boring (and probably not possible given that the poem is rather short and sparse).
Incidentally I’ve visited Bertrand’s grave but have never made it to Ravel’s yet, even though I go to Levallois practically every week.
I thought I was all alone in preferring ondine!
Not sure I have a favorite tho, but I remember Debargue excited me with the one he did in Mariinsky.
Can’t stop laughing at how da Doc fucked up after that big crescendo here:
There used to be a video of Berezovsky playing Scarbo where he had a memory lapse on the final page and just improvised and ending, just an arpeggio I think haha. Its disappeared off YouTube now though.
Hehe, it happens. I remember a Kreisleriana he did in the 1990s too where he ended up omitting virtually the entire last page.
The most extraordinary cover up I’ve heard incidentally comes from Sokolov. He lost his way in a Bach fugue during a recital which was broadcast live in the 1990s, upon which he improvised his own continuation of it while at the same time modulating back to the original key, to eventually - completely seamlessly - begin a second attempt. I wonder just how many people in the world would be able to do something like that.
Schiff did the same thing here back in the 80’s when the names actually visited.
I can actually imagine that. Schiff is very underrated, and not only for his fugue improvisation skillz.
Do you know if there’s a recording of the concert by the way?
I’d love to hear that!
The world has gotten smaller and yet somehow Australia is further away…
I doubt it; maybe in the ABC archive. I think he came down for the Barossa festival and apparently played in a church for 60 people.
Lol good luck getting him to repeat that now!
I remember the Doc came to Radz a number of years ago.
Did you go see him or was that when you were in the UK?
Hehe, it’s not impossible… As long as the church was a beautiful setting and the whole thing felt civilized and aristocratic I think András would have approved.
Schiff used to be my prime example of an awful pianist, along with Herr Doktor Professor Alf. They both put me in place good about 5-6 years ago however, when a friend (who’s a big Alf fan) sent me one of his favorite Brendel recitals, and I dragged myself off to record Schiff for another friend who knew him much better than I did. From the moment Schiff began playing I was sure it had to be playback. He had been the epitome of a dull, grey, lifeless musician for me earlier, but what came out of that piano was the exact opposite. He drew colors from the instrument really unlike any other pianist I had heard, had a gorgeous sound at the piano, and put the most scrupulous musicianship imaginable on display. I spent more time on him than any other pianist over the next few years exploring his career, which has been highly worthwhile. Less so with Brendel unfortunately - his best stuff is outstanding too IMO, but there’s much less of it.
I didn’t go that time - apparently the crowd was pitifully small but somehow the international Piano series is still going thankfully. They get some decent names in - Gavryluk, Bavouzet, Fliter (although Fliter’s Chopin was just whack for my taste).
Actually Friere was meant to play with ASO few months ago but pulled out.
I saw Schiff give his Haydn lecture/recital at Wigmore and aside from the dickhead next to me who accused someone of having a heart attack to draw attention to themselves (go figure), it was amazingly characterful playing. His Haydn trio disks are some of my favourite. On top of which I’m on a mega Haydn binge atm.
I love Haydn, I used to get assigned a lot of it due to having Lancaster as my teacher. He was a HIPster so there were always extra everything.