Monday, April 12, 2010

Brahms Op. 118 No. 2

I am having a great extended weekend. My workplace decided to close today and tomorrow because downtown DC is going to be a mess for commuters, with the summit on nuclear weapons being held not too far from where I work. And we're having beautiful spring weather on top of it.

So I finally was able to buckle down and record Brahms Op. 118 No. 2.

Brahms Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2 in A major

I consider this still a work in progress. I'd like to figure out how to make the bass line less relentless without destroying the pulse. I'd like everything to be more legato. I think I'm on the right track with this, though.

I did a little YouTube research last week to hear how real pianists interpret this piece. This was the weirdest one, IMO, clocking in at almost 9 minutes (most performances are 5 to 6 minutes):

One of the commenters (though I usually don't read them -- YouTube comments generally range from worthless to offensive) described the tempo as "rubato on crack." Everything is so stretched that I think you really lose the line. It's also very percussive, oddly enough, with some notes randomly bashed out. Maybe a pianist of this stature plays this way to show that he's thinking outside the box -- way outside!

I think that whenever you learn a piece like this that is played so much, you need to ignore the fact that thousands of other people have played it before you (and will do so after you) and just listen to the piece on its own merits and, ultimately, use your own judgment about it. The end result may not be startling, but it will be true to your taste and to your feelings about what the composer intended.

Anyway, time to go out and enjoy my day of freedom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

for me, van cliburn's interpretation is the gold standard -- simply wonderful.