Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Masterclass

Liz and I watched another masterclass from the Barenboim on Beethoven set. This time it was the first movement of the Appassionata with Lang Lang. After Lang plays, and Barenboim gets the requisite compliments out of the way, the constructive criticism starts. Barenboim says he'd like to hear a better grasp of the structure of the piece from Lang. Now, the classes are taped before an audience and they're always in the background. A few of them brought scores with them, the nerds. One of the nerds can be seen scribbling this piece of advice down. What did he write? "Grasp of structure = good"? "Lang doesn't know what he's doing"? Good thing he brought the notepad.

In another class, Barenboim (who plays all the sonatas from memory) has a question about one of Beethoven's performance markings and asks to take a look at one of the nerd's scores. Of course, they've brought some jive, unreliable edition instead of a proper urtext edition. Barenboim notes it but doesn't wipe his butt with the score which is what he should have done.


One of the best parts of the class was Barenboim's advice about one note. He said that Lang should create the illusion of a crescendo on the note and then played the passage in question. Sure enough, the effect was there. One of the audience members asked how he did it. Barenboim said that if he told it wouldn't be an illusion anymore. He then told an anecdote about meeting Horowitz who gave him a memorable piece of performance advice: "You must have will." Barenboim then apologized for not fully answering the question but that sure sounds like the full answer to me. Hope the nerds got that one down.

(Why the hostility to the nerds? Self-revulsion because I identify with them? NO. LEAVE ME ALONE.)

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