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MMD > Archives > May 2018 > 2018.05.06 > 01Prev  Next

Player Pianos vs. Live Performances
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  While this will probably be received as somewhat irrelevant,
one has to ask, "What would Chopin say about Pollini's performance?"

On a more relevant note, I don't know of any pianist who can play
the same piece of music exactly the same twice.  Unlike a computer
(or a digital recording), the human brain is incapable of 'calling up
a past performance and duplicating that performance'.  Changes in
personal temperament and physical condition preclude us from robot-like

While the difference/s in the performance might be so slight as to go
unnoticed by even the most acute critic, an honest musician knows when
'he nailed it' and when he simply didn't make any mistakes (there's
a difference!).  But even when, in his own mind, he nails it, that
opinion is based on his subjective understanding or belief of how the
piece is suppose to be played.

Regarding the differences, let's start with the fact that the 1937
performance by Hofmann is 3 min. 11 sec. in length while the Pollini
performance is 4 min. 21 sec. in length.  The Duo-Art performance
[ played by Josef Hofmann] is 3 min. 54 sec. in length.

Secondly, the Hofmann and Pollini performances are markedly different
in numerous ways.  The differences in the balance between the volumes
of the accompaniment (left hand) and the melody (right hand) is
unmistakable.  It's not so surprising then that the Duo-Art performance
is much more like the Hofmann performance than the Pollini performance.

Admittedly, the first minute or so of the Duo-Art performance leaves
much to be desired.  It has a mechanical nature that truly detracts
from the beauty of the piece.  Later in the piece, as compared to the
Hofmann performance, it gets better, but it still lacks personality.

The composite picture of the three files, side-by-side, shows the many
differences in the volume alone:

 [ Chopin by Duo Art, Hofmann, and Pollini

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

 [ Maurizio Pollini plays Chopin's Berceuse in D-flat major
 [ at 
 [ Josef Hofmann's 1937 Golden Jubilee live performance is at
 [ Compare with the Duo-Art roll played by Josef Hofmann (10/26)
 [ at 
 [ -- Robbie

(Message sent Sun 6 May 2018, 21:23:00 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Live, Performances, Pianos, Player, vs

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