Changing pieces

How much do you intentionally deviate from scores on average?

I always improvise ornaments, suspensions, and other things when doing repeats. I also often add notes that are missing in inner voices if it works in terms of the texture and part-writing. Like sometimes Beethoven randomly leaves out inner voices and it sounds better to add them.

Tempo, dynamics, technique markings, and slurs are all just loose suggestions, imo, in descending order of importance. I follow them if I agree with them. Tempo I agree with about 60% of the time (usually + or - no more than 20 BPM). Dynamics I agree with about 40-50% of the time (I usually agree with the general dynamic of the piece/section but bar-to-bar dynamics I usually change). Technique markings and slurs I typically ignore altogether; I just write in what seems to feel right.



Anything from 1650 onward and I kept completely faithful to the text - where possible. Obviously if I’m figuring then that is different, otherwise I take the composer at their word and realize their music to the best of my ability.

What do you guys do for repeats to make them sound different?

Do all three of you concertize? I think that may be an issue, as I don’t (and if I ever did it wouldn’t be in any particularly public venue, just for friends and friends of friends). I remember reading that Scrib and Rach had the same piano professor for a time when they were young and while Scrib was apparently a talented pianist he always played pieces how he felt like playing them, whereas Rach was more faithful to the score. No surprise Rach became the concert pianist (also Scrib w/ the injury, but w/e).

For repeats I usually change either articulation or dynamics. That being said however, I don’t agree with what you say about adding ornaments and extra voices. Once you start doing that, your not playing the piece, rather your own transcription imo. And as a composer myself, I can tell you slurs mean A LOT to a piece lol. Any change I do is usually subtle, and sometimes I don’t even change if a passage repeats. This is about as drastic as I’ve gone from deliberately deviating from the score I think.

I’m known to be on the platform from time to time, but don’t really enjoy it, or do much of it.

Re repeats; I tend to just vary the interp. Perhaps bring something else out, but I still stick to the score,; for example a passage that was forte, I might play just a little bit more forte and stick in some rubato towards the cadence - perhaps not the best example, but hopefully you know what I mean.

I disagree with the notion that altering a piece necessarily makes it a transcription or arrangement. I think as long as one is true to the original sound/goal/spirit of a piece then it’s just an interpretation. I have a Cziffra boxset in which he plays La Campanella for the most part as written, but occasionally plays a cadence a little different or ornaments notes here and there.

(Maybe this is some early version I’m unfamiliar with, but I don’t think so.) Given that it’s a showboat piece anyway and all of his changes sound Lisztian and fitting in the original concept of the piece, I don’t really think it warrants a “Cziffra-Liszt” composer credit. The Hamelin-Liszt version, though, is a radical departure from the original in terms of harmony/texture/etc.; it retains its showboating vibe but is quite different. It’s really an exercise in judgment. Obviously fudging with a tightly-constructed serialist Stockhausen piece is a bad idea, but adding a few light embellishments to a Mozart adagio which he intended to have the feel of an aria would, imo, be more appropriate than not doing so. Not every little detail is always crucial to the essence of the piece.

I remember having a very long argument with a former professor (theory/history, but he plays trumpet) about fidelity to the score and he was very much of the opinion that one should follow the composer’s intent as closely as possible, but even he believes that, in cases where the composer clearly would have done something that instruments of the day made impossible, it should be changed (he had some example of a trumpet or horn part from a Beethoven symphony). How do you feel about this?

When I say adding an inner voice, btw, I don’t mean doing something that upsets the entire fabric of the piece (like deciding a Bach 2-part invention would work better as a 3-part invention). What I mean is something like this Beethoven passage, for instance.

I think it sounds better on beat 4 of the first measure to have a momentary divisi in the RH (with C# below the F#-to-E) which contracts back inward to resume the scalar texture. It gives it the all-important leading tone and gives an already thickening-at-the-cadence texture just a little more progression before cadencing. It’s subtle enough that even some jurors might not catch it, but it sounds better and disrupts absolutely nothing about the piece (in fact I think it augments it).

I’m a composer, too, and I think it’s largely my composerly instincts which come roaring in whenever something feels wrong on the page (“I see what you’re trying to do, Liszt, but what you’ve written doesn’t do it”). Of course if a piece is way off base (like a whole section is crap) then I either don’t play it or learn to live with it, but if making a subtle alteration allows a piece to better do what it was trying to do anyway, then I’m going to make it. It doesn’t surprise me that the three pianists I can think of who I know deviated often (Gould, Scrib, Ziff) all demonstrated (or more ‘claimed’ in Gould’s case) a more composerly disposition.

I think there’s even something to be said for deliberately changing the piece in a rather notable way, as Gould was known to do. IMO that’s one of the huge reasons why concert culture isn’t made obsolete by recordings. Writing a piece, then recording it definitively with the recording intended as the piece of art (like Sgt. Pepper’s) gives nowhere for that piece to go. Writing a piece for performance, in which performers can use what’s written as a starting point, allows that piece to be reenvisioned indefinitely. I mean, in 2010 why would I want to sit through an hour of someone trying to faithfully represent a few Beethoven sonatas? I have access to literally days worth of recordings of some of the greatest musical geniuses of the 20th century doing this. If this is all that concert culture is then it really is made obsolete by recordings. The composer would simply need to oversee the ‘perfect recording’ and then we’d just listen to it. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s also room for more organic musical approaches (like jazz and, ideally, classical concert culture).

PS: Solid performance :slight_smile: I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the original, though (Brahms is, imo, terrible most of the time in his solo piano writing and mediocre in other formats).

banned 8)

Ahaha diz thread a bit :blush:


hahaha man zumone lock thiz fucking topic n mail it to nilzjohan 8)