A classical music blog by music critic Tim Mangan
classical music, music videos
Mozart, piano, Yuja Wang
July 23, 2015
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It is only fair to include the actual perpetrator of this crime:
Unfortunately, Mozart’s performance of the original is not available.
Shades of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, especially around 1:45 and beyond. Good stuff, great encore fodder, and inventive beyond tweaking tempos.
Then there is of course this rendition from several decades ago that may have given Lang Lang his idea of the piece’s tempo:
I’ll go with Yuja and Arkasha, carrying on the golden age tradition of hyper-virtuosic encore hijinks.
Certainly, “tweaking tempos” alone would not be satisfying, but fortunately for us, both GG’s and LL’s renditions of the piece show their genuine musical inventiveness in many other ways, such as their use of rubato (slight rhythmical fluctuations within the main speed), dynamic shadings, articulation, voicing and so on. This kind of inventiveness is much more subtle than adding lots of notes, but it is no less artistically valuable.
I’m sure LL’s encore is wholesome and nutritious what with the rubato, shading, and the voicing. But I don’t want layups at a slam dunk contest or broccoli souffle for dessert. Volodos playing Volodos and Wang playing Volodos would send me to my car with a big grin wondering where they hid the extra pianist. So long the concerto or recital preceding to provide the vitamins and minerals balanced among the food groups, I say bring on virtuosic encore hijinks.
Don’t think Gould was doing an encore so I’ll leave him out of this.
Leaving the meal issue for foodies to evaluate, my feeling is that the basketball analogy does not really work because slam dunk contest always takes place BEFORE an all-star game as a prelude to it, unlike an encore which is always being played AFTER the main event, i.e. the concerto or recital program. So, even basketball people understand that flashy stuff is great but the real thing is more important. As for the recordings in question, creating fresh listening experience while not changing or adding a single note is for me no less impressive and exciting than performing a clever virtuosic arrangement of a popular piece.
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