Ernest Smart replies to me:
> My point was that having been a classical piano enthusiast for 65 years
> now, I have rarely found a "dedicated fan of Chopin" who really goes for
> the "cheap thrills". Presumably your experience must differ greatly.
> I am very surprised, and apologise for my assumption.
You've probably got at least ten years on me, and obviously have heard
more Chopin than I. I don't think you need to apologize. I should
confess that I was thinking of many pianists I personally know, from
amateur to the rare pro. There *is* a Liberace-type of Chopin player,
who often has some audience success.
> Yes there are some people who like Chopin played this way, but in my
> experience they usually also 'Wallow in Wagner', 'Bathe in Brahms and
> Bruckner' and are quite uncritical, so that they can hardly be called
> 'dedicated fans'.
Actually, why not? They love the music, and they seek it out. They may
not have much musical discernment, but you can't discount their enthusiasm.
> What do you make of Schumann's remark that some Chopin pieces -- I think
> the scherzi in particular--- are 'cannon covered by flowers?'. (I must
> apologise for the approximate quotation but I am without my reference
> books until September). One must place this together with the 'worship
> of Bach and Mozart' which you rightly mention.
I've always regarded the scherzi as the most Romantic pieces in Chopin's
catalogue. They are filled with caprice, sometimes grotesqueries, allied
to the more phantasmagorical Romantic writers and painters: Callot,
Hoffmann, Coleridge, Fussli, etc. I'm very drawn to that kind of
Romanticism, which is why I love the scherzi so much.
> Perhaps I should add that my own taste is fairly eclectic: I even like
> some of Pletnev's Chopin. However I am a heretic in that the post- war
> Rubinstein does not attract me at all. Neat, pretty, skilled, yes: but
> no real feeling, chaste or otherwise. Compare for example his 'Berceuse'
> with that of Solomon. Or the Aflat polonaise. Or the Fminor fantaisie.
Solomon is by me one of the greatest, and most underrated, pianists of
the last century. Perhaps his lack of a large discography, especially
compared to Rubinstein and Horowitz, may be partially responsible. I
do agree with you about postwar Rubinstein. I call it "corporate" Chopin.
There's no sense of personality.
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