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From: Patrice Mathews  <>
Date: Wed Mar 29, 2000 1:45am
Subject: [Great Pianists] Re: Argerich's Bach

------Original Message------
From: Patrice Mathews mspatrice@e... To: andrys@n... Sent: March 29, 2000 4:47:10 AM GMT Subject: RE: [Great Pianists] Re: Argerich's Bach

Andrys wrote:
 Bach is among the most romantic of composers, bar none.  

Well, maybe Scarlatti...!

 The, to me, idiotic request for more dry playing in Bach shows >very little REAL familiarity with the sound of a harpsichord >which is *never* "staccato"

Er, I use detache freely. Variation in note durations is one of the relatively few tricks we harpsichordists have at our disposal! That's the challenge. To paraphrase what Leonhardt once said: "How could an instrument so beloved for so long by so many be anything less than surpassingly expressive?"

 Harpsichords are like BELLS

Or lutes, their true parents ;-)

 the tone does *not* decay in the way a piano quickly does.   There's no pedal needed to keep the tone >going ! BUT in piano, that pedal had better be there if >partially emulating the sound of a harpsichord is important to >one.

I think it's often (not always) an issue of the force of the keystroke (piano) and of holding the note. But then I don't know that emulation is appropriate anyway. Awareness, yes.

 the tone of notes continued and one had to be very careful so they not smear into other notes in a way that hid the actual >harmonies intended because the tone continued.

Continued only if one hung onto it! All else is acoustics.

 I was 4th row center and there was not too much pedaling for >those of us sitting together. Perhaps by the time the sound got >upstairs, there was more smearing.

What I heard from first tier right (straight from under the piano lid) was a very convincing transcription, as it should be and as is inevitable. What is the particular virtue of sounding like a harpsichord anyway? Bach wrote down the harmony in his head, non-idiomatically, for a universal instrument that has yet to be invented, even though it exists all around us.

The only qualm I had was with the rhythm in the beginning Adagio. All the 16th-note rests should be dotted, which makes for an even more powerful Frenchified gesture, more air, more sweep, more drama. One could pick at the Courante for similar   non-observance of "echt" performance practice but that movement worked for me--I didn't miss the subtle rhythmic shifts.

As a pianist-turned-harpsichordist, I've been more than ever thrilled by Argerich. (And we're talking 30 years of adoration here!) She's not playing just a piano.


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3398        Re: Argerich's Bach Andrys Wed 3/29/2000

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