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Maybe we should keep our eyes shut at concerts?


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Initial post: Aug 30, 2011 12:36:01 PM PDT
KenOC says:
"German researchers Klaus-Ernst Behne and Clemens Wöllner present evidence that a pianist's body language impacts how even knowledgeable listeners evaluate his or her performance." The article describes a very interesting experiment.

http://tinyurl.com/3uqcoos

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2011 12:38:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2011 2:19:36 PM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
If I close my eyes at concerts, I'm still there the next morning.

Posted on Aug 30, 2011 1:58:20 PM PDT
There are some players whose facial expressions or mannerisms I cannot stand. The one that comes to mind immediately is the grimacing Murray Perahia, who I actually enjoy a great deal -- on CD. If I were to see him live, I would close my eyes or look somewhere else.

Artur Rubinstein was the most stoic presence at the keyboard that you'd think he was typing a business letter. But the sound! Lang Lang gesticulates wildly and is SOUNDS like he's typing a business letter. One really never knows.

Posted on Aug 30, 2011 2:06:51 PM PDT
I held my eyes for most of an opera once. 'tristan' to be exact.
really it was the staging. ( day glo hockney sets during the first year of the L. A. Opera.)
and the fact that Isolde towered over tristan didn't help.
Nope my mind's eye was much better than that.

Posted on Aug 30, 2011 2:12:28 PM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
Thos. Dawkins -- Perahia I didn't recall ... I haven't seen him in a long time and wasn't sitting close then, but I can testify to Rudolf Serkin, Brendel, Uchida, and Olli Mustonen as impossible to watch. Jonathan Biss is so lost and awkward I want to help him find the piano. Rubinstein, Heifetz, Horowitz were all great stone faces, always excepting Ritual Fire Dance in Artoosha's case ... Italians called him "The Bombardier". Otherwise, a minute eyebrow lift, slight tightening of the mouth ... they say if conductor Hans Richter had raised his left hand the walls would collapse. Nowadays we have it otherwise. I've seen the concertmaster of a major London orchestra needing to be physically restrained from falling off the stage into the front stalls (Gordan S. of the LSO), consternating and slightly alarming.

Posted on Aug 30, 2011 2:33:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2011 2:34:33 PM PDT
MacDoom says:
Didn't Michelangeli have just one expression? A mixture of boredom, irritation and aloofness?

I once saw a programme on TV with Brendel on Schubert-playing. He was explaining that the audience is fooled into thinking something is louder than it actually is if you do not just play the note, but follow it up with a physical extra push a tenth of a second later (which he admitted was plain rubbish as the key simply stays down - yet he guaranteed its effectiveness). It's the one and only time I thought of him as a charlatan.

Posted on Aug 31, 2011 3:31:57 PM PDT
Ypres says:
Piso,

"If I close my eyes at concerts, I'm still there the next morning."

My gosh, that was funny!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2011 7:55:08 PM PDT
"If I close my eyes at concerts, I'm still there the next morning."

Joke:

I woke up this morning to the smell of frying bacon, pancakes, and freshly-perked coffee. I slapped myself in the forehead and cried "Dang!!! I fell asleep at Denny's AGAIN!!!!"

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2011 8:25:27 PM PDT
KenOC says:
WDE, that's VERY good! Got a chuckle over here.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2011 4:11:50 PM PDT
I had to close my eyes during the Bolshoi's presentation of "Boris Godunov" a few years back because the costumes and stage sets were so terrible. Boris walking around in a wrought-iron cage among pillars that looked like they were from a Disney staging of The Little Mermaid was too much for my eyes to handle.

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 7:31:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2011 7:35:38 AM PDT
Hank Drake says:
As far as pianists, I am in agreement with Piso. The ones I've preferred to watch are the "old masters" such as Horowitz (who I saw live) and Rubinstein. Rachmaninoff was also said to be immobile, and my teacher told me that Schnabel also played without physical mannerism. Moiseiwitsch is my absolute ideal in terms of physical deportment - has there ever been a more natural looking pianist? Evert writhing piano student should be tied to a chair and forced to watch films of Benno in action.

Probably the creepiest pianist I've seen live is Brendel, with all the sneering, wincing, and staring balefully at the audience. It's hard to concentrate on the music when one can only wish the pianist had seen an orthodontist as a teenager. I would have closed my eyes here, but Bren-dull's playing is more effective than Valium. The two times I saw him, Perahia looked like he was in pain - and this was before his hand troubles. I've seen Pollini once in person and several times on television - he always looks like he's constipated. As for Lang Lang, if I wanted to see Betty Boop, I'd watch a cartoon.

For conductors - I won't even go there. The last time I criticized a certain well known conductor for his platform deportment, I got hate mail calling me an anti-semite.

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 7:34:06 AM PDT
RICK RIEKERT says:
"Maybe we should keep our eyes shut at concerts?"

I can't see anyone doing that.

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 2:10:34 PM PDT
Prepare for a listening revolution: listen in complete darkness with your eyes open.
http://www.mymusicmask.com/en/home.html

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 11:04:13 PM PDT
I don't mind if members of a symphony orchestra display more than stoic involvement in their performance, but... Our Seattle Symphony has one ridiculous-looking member of the first violin section who bobs and weaves so much that I'm surprised he hasn't been reined in by the former or current music director, or at least by his colleagues (with whom he frequently seems in danger of colliding!).

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 11:24:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 25, 2012 1:34:37 PM PDT
John Ruggeri says:
When I am at an opera or vocal concert - Closing my eyes is the highest compliment I can give short of applause and bravos after the performance. I need nothing else to disturb that. Of course there are touching visual moments too like the death of Violetta which I Need to watch especially when Sutherland slowly limped across the stage singing and then collapsed.

Posted on Apr 25, 2012 6:23:18 AM PDT
HB says:
I have mentioned this before but it certainly bears repeating for this thread. I have purchased or rented a fair number of classical music DVDs. The worst DVDs, IMO, are the ones where the conductor basically just beats time.

I have the 9 Beethoven symphonies conducted by Michael Gielen. The performances are excellent but watching him is really boring, especially in Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 8. Leonard Bernstein, on the other hand, is a joy to watch. He may overdo it at times but it is fun. Claudio Abbado is another favorite of mine. His DVD of the of the Verdi Four Sacred Pieces is simply astonishing.

Posted on Apr 25, 2012 7:06:18 AM PDT
mojoworking says:
I have been known to lie on the floor (in the gallery at the top of the Royal Albert Hall) during Proms concerts. I find it a most affective way to listen to concerts and I have the option of watching the performers or not (usually not).

Posted on Apr 25, 2012 7:40:02 AM PDT
Aleksey says:
I haven't gone to too many concerts, due to limitations of time and the rather high price of tickets for anyone who isn't a subscriber, but I've actually done this at the ones I have attended. If my eyes are open, I'm bored and people-watching. It's much easier for me to stay focused in an unfamiliar environment without the added visual element.

Really, though, on the hypothesis: I'd say that if I'm watching a pianist play (on Youtube, for example), I want to hear how they think of the piece and communicate of their opinions. I actually <i>want</i> (oh for HTML!) to be influenced by their body language-- if I'm lucky, it'll help me find some meaning in a passage that otherwise might roll off the top of my head.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2012 7:59:04 PM PDT
M. Mitchell says:
Radames- I know exactly who you are talking about! I am a frequenter of the SSO. He must play very well...

Posted on Apr 25, 2012 11:03:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 25, 2012 11:13:57 PM PDT
TGT says:
It doesn't bother me if a musician bobs and weaves or make facial expressions while playing. As long as the musician sounds good, he/she should be able to do what helps him/her "get into the groove" of the music. Some musicians are known in part for thier mannerisms, and that is fine with me. Some examples include Stanley Jordan's head-bobbing when playing guitar, Stevie Wonder's rolling head-bob at the piano, Ray Charles' "tick-tock" body lean at the piano to the beat of the music, Jonh Entwistle's stiff upright, motionless stance when playing bass for The Who (contrasting with the other musicians' wild movements, including Pete Townsend's "windmill" guitar).

In the realm of classical music, Bernstein was known for his two-fisted grip and baseball bat swing of the baton during especially violent and loud points in a piece he was conducting, coupled with angry expressions, occasional leaps off the podium, or grabbing the podium bannister with one hand to keep from falling while conducting with the other. But with all his theatrics, he never lost control of the orchestra, and that's all that matters. Yet, Bernstein could be very self-controlled, especially when playing music of Mozart or other classical era pieces. So he could pump up the jam or turn the juice down as he felt appropriate for the music being performed. The same could be said for Ozawa. I like a conductor who can modulate his/her stage presence this way. My preference tends toward conductors who are not ashamed of showing their feelings on the podium. I don't care to watch conductors who are too stiff, emotionless, and are little more than a living metronome. Boring! From what I've read about their conducting styles, two of my favorite composers, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky, would have certainly bored me to tears if I had ever seen them conduct.

I've seen orchestra musicians move about and show facial expressions when playing while the colleague in the next seat is almost catatonically immobile and expressionless. I think the balance of these two extremes, plus everything in between, will contribute to an orchestra's overall sound.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2012 11:04:05 PM PDT
Dear M. Mitchell,

According to my sources in the Seattle Symphony, HE certainly thinks he does!

Posted on Apr 27, 2012 3:39:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 27, 2012 12:03:25 PM PDT
Joe Anthony says:
Karajan used to close his eyes while conducting...and I had a professor back when I was in college who would lecture with his eyes closed.

Maybe closing the eyes helps certain people to concentrate.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2012 7:04:20 AM PDT
Piso Mojado says:
A violinist ... I think it was Nathan Milstein ... tells of performing with Karajan, who as usual had closed his eyes while conducting. "That seemed like a good idea, so I closed my eyes too," said the violinist. "A moment later something happened, Karajan opened his eyes, saw mine closed, and kept his open from then on."

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2012 9:29:20 AM PDT
HB says:
"Karajan used to close his eyes while conducting...and I had a professor back when I was in college who would lecture with his eyes closed."

I have one Karajan DVD and sure enough his eyes are closed. Its the last one of his DVDs I will ever buy. It is very annoying to look at somebody performing with closed eyes. For me, the communication ceases.

Posted on Apr 27, 2012 9:41:14 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 16, 2012 7:34:56 AM PDT]
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  29
Total posts:  79
Initial post:  Aug 30, 2011
Latest post:  Nov 30, 2012

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