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Re: [F_MINOR] GG Recordings You Like That Everyone Else Hates

Title: RE: [F_MINOR] GG Recordings You Like That Everyone Else Hates
Kudos to Eric for a great post.  GG's approach to music was always a bold and personalized and courageous act.  He knew full well what previous generations of performers had brought to the table.  He was also aware that it was his responsibility to first allow the music to speak to him, then feel what sympathetic vibrations it caused within his soul and then after great contemplation to create his own personal statement.  GG's tendencies to extremes have been written about in great amounts.  What you bring forward here is that his insights, although off centre at the best of times, show legitimate insights into the ideas inherent in the creation.  There are old philosophical arguments about whether a composer should have or could have the final word on interpretation.  Some would say that it is not possible for anyone to have the final word on artistic _expression_ and that it is up to the listener to decide whether the performance works for them.  Take acting for another example.  Is there someone who really knows how to deliver Shakespearean lines "correctly".  They will be the same lines whether they are mumbled by Brando or spoken by Pacino or Gilgud or Orson Wells.  It is up to us to decide if we like what we are hearing.  It is of course true that with music there are strong indications of tempi and dynamics.  However, GG had the guts to use them at his pleasure, not always thrilling his listeners.  His Mozart and Brahms tempi are at times either laughable, incomprehensible or just bizarre. However, the underlying beauty of the music is still there, despite the precocious ten fingers. 
His Beethoven is often approached in an eccentric manner.  I once heard on CBC radio archives, his attempt at directing one of the Beethoven piano concertos, I think number 2, with a local smaller orchestra and a very frightened or nervous pianist.  He spoke to the musicians, telling them that he knew that he was fooling around at the most extreme periphery of performance standards but he wanted them to work with his ideas.  He asked them to play the slow movement about 50% slower than normal, as if the whole orchestra had downed a bottle of valium.  They played a few minutes of the slow movement and I have to tell you it was the most odd sound.  One knew all the notes as they are very familiar.  Then again the theme sounded as if it was going in slow motion.  The thing that surprised me is that I actually enjoyed his experiment even though it was quite perverse, going far beyond the Brahms he did with Bernstein, which created such a stir. 
GG enjoyed pulling apart any tempo that Mozart used.  Why is not clear to me.  He often held Wolfy in contempt and I think the reason was that GG had decided that Mozart had squandered one of the most immense God given talents by cranking out pedestrian music.  He termed it like that because he judged that Mozart could have done much better had he been more motivated.  That might be the case and perhaps he enjoyed being overly cantankerous with tempi as if to twist Mozart's nose. 
Personally, my favourite GG Beethoven are the small pieces, some of the pieces without opus number and the like.  I forget the actual names just now but I think you all know them.  He was able to take such small scale piano pieces and create the most stunning and beautiful miniature galaxies of sound, even if the whole piece was 30 seconds long.  I have never heard another pianist, not even Brendel, out-do the shimmering transcendental sounds that he pulled from the strings.  As well his Beethoven/Liszt symphonic renditions of the 6'th and bits of the 3'rd (or was that the Creatures of Prometheus?) are without peer. 
I'm starting to go on too long.  It's such great fun to talk about GG.
(P.S. , his Haydn is the defacto standard in my view)
Fred Houpt


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