How/why is Barenboim considered such a legend?

Tru juz wtf :sunglasses:

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He is/was a pianist of some ability, in part depending upon which decade. Some possible reasons for his rep:

…Wunderkind–with Argentinian and Israeli roots—interesting story line
…Jet-setter—especially in view of his “dual” career, seems/seemed to be everywhere
…Conducting–while it takes away from piano time, coupled with his travel schedule above, oddly helped his piano career—a musical “double threat” conductor and pianist. Conducting also allows him to appear with more orchs as pianist conducting from the keyboard
…Music directorships—despite how things evolved in Paris, Chicago, etc., added to his musical credibility, except for those of us in those cities that could see adverse changes over time. (Here in Chicago, for example, he was a far better guest conductor during the 1970’s and 1980’s than MD in the 1990’s-2006, his conducting tended to get erratic over time; it also began to adversely affect his piano work with less practice time.)
…Lotsa record companies—many record companies from the up until more recent years with all the consolidation. EMI, RCA (BMG), Erato, Teldec, DG, etc, etc.–multiple opportunities to have recording contracts, and duplicating repertory
…Jacqueline duPre–DB was part of that (then) “new breed” along with Zubie Mehta, Pinky Zukerman, and du Pre, all often appearing with each other. Du Pre’s untimely illness and demise further spotlighted DB as the surviving spouse.
…Marketing–touched upon a little with record companies, multiple roles, etc., DB is very good at marketing himself—also to add to the mix of activity–the W/E Divan orch which, while no doubt a legimate musical group and purpose, also provides a somewhat statesman role for DB to speak on cultural and political issues as well.

All of the above sounds critical and somewhat negative, though all of it is accurate. On the “plus” side of the ledger, I think it’s fair to say he has a tremendous memory for repertoire and excellent sight-reading skills. To me, the greatest thing working against his piano playing is he’s trying to have multiple careers at the same time. He can be quite good, especially in certain repertory, but is unpredictable in the result.


He does have a prodigious memory. The one time I heard him in nyc was a mostly Liszt affair, and it was really quite dreadful.

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Because he massacred the Beethoven cycle early on.
Kinda like a more mediocre, pompous HANDJOB LIM

Anything he plays is at best - competent.
How anyone with such a poor imagination can command the world’s greatest orchestras and be a pompous ass speaks volumes about the state of today’s music making

How can the Kapshitzky be chief of the piano dept at da Yard

Such is life.

At least the JAV directors are releasing high quality vids

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As a conductor and as a speaker there really is nothing wrong with him

Everyone has heard this already, but I saw him live 2-3 years ago and while he clearly was out of practice, I was never under any doubt that I was hearing a musician of rare distinction. He might have been poorly prepared, but the skills he had in speaking through the instrument is something few pianists have, and something you simply cannot learn.

He really should adjust his repertoire however, and maybe also raise his standards. The Liszt half he played here in S was one he should never have walked out for, and I’ve heard him butcher much simpler works on recordings as well simply because he hasn’t practiced enough. I’ve never been a big fan of anything I’ve heard with him personally, but it’s clear to me that over the past 30 years at least he has relied more on talent than toil.

I’ve actually enjoyed his piano recordings of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms on EMI. Especially the concerto stuff with old Klemp and the Chamber music. Not the only ways I would want to hear these pieces but they are interesting. Not cookie cutter interpretations by any means, with some pretty bendable tempos and phrasing that remind me a bit of Richter.

As a conductor, he’s not exactly sui generis. But that’s fine because he does some pretty cool echt Furtwangler conducting notably in the Germanic works. Excellent Bruckner.

I like his Mendelssohn SWWs, but maybe just since it was the first (and possibly still only complete) recording I heard of the music.

Otherwise I don’t know… But hearing him live really did make you get it. I don’t know if it’s the personal connection or if sitting in a concert hall makes you more attentive, but no matter how many times you’ve heard a musician through recordings - even audience tapes - it’s amazing how the live experience can still make you connect dots you never did at home.

Tru I bought diz rec n zumwut enjoyed dizcoverin da gensui piecez, but…

Den I heard da Friedrice :sunglasses:

A bit like that yes. I haven’t heard it in 15+ years, but my memory is that it’s a fine studio recording which characterizes the pieces well. It’s not a listening experience.

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A lovely Barenboim moment is in his Berlin recording of the Bruckner 8 where in the opening of the finale he adds a Concertgebouw timpani roll like what van Beinem and early Haitink did. Not in the score by very exciting and effective.

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Who’s Bruckner? :musical_keyboard:

Didn’t he start an affair with Bashkirova (daughter of da BASH) long before Du Pré actually died?

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He did have a relationship with Elena B. (who is quite attractive). Amazing how much Michael looks like both of them–dark features, etc.

I understand he also had something going with Argerich in the old days. (This sounds right to me for I saw both of them quite friendly before and after a rehearsal in Berlin when she did Liszt 2 -with the Chicago SO when they were on tour there in 1996.)

Must be thinking of Max Bruch-ner, the guy who wrote the G minor violin concerto.


Were you the one who taped that Berlin performance?

Nicht schuldig; both concerti were legimately broadcast—the 1st (3 April 96) was broadcast in the US as part of the weekly CSO bdcsts; the 2nd (6 April 96 perf) was broadcast on German radio.

Right yes. There’s an audience recording in circulation as well which I think reached the La Martians before the broadcast did. I’ve assumed it was recorded by a gentleman named Peter Lemken who occasionally did some taping in Berlin at the time, but given the CSO it could just as well have been you.