Who do you consider to be the GOAT amongst classical music composers?

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Yes, no need for target practice on Schoenberg, actually Schoenberg and Gershwin were close friends and neighbours in Hollywood, they played tennis against each other on a regular basis.

Here is Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm Variations" from1934, which shows a strong influence from his friend Schoenberg in several of the variations, also a strong pentatonic and Chinese style in some of

them. This is a Viennese orchestra, Schoenberg's hometown.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kgK42okD80

Recently, in January, in Belgium there was another performance of the Gershwin "I Got Rhythm Variations", Gershwin's last work for piano and orchestra, coupled with the Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin's first piano and orchestra work. Here is a tantalizing excerpt from that performance.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
It appears that Tsutsumi will not allow himself to be grounded by the pandemic. In addition to playing with the Vienna Philharmonic in November, he has planned another concert at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, where he will perform the three Brahms Cello Sonatas.

The Brahms Cello Sonata No. 2 was performed by the 21-year-old Tsutsumi in 1963 to win the Pablo Casals International Cello Competition in Budapest. Incredibly, that performance is still available.
This upcoming performance in Tokyo of the same Brahms work will mark about 58 years from that competition winning performance.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The second movement of the Brahms sonata consists of extended melodic structures, of which Tsutsumi is a master, as shown in that same prize-winning performance from 1963..

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Donald Tovey, one of the foremost musical analysts, regarded this movement from the Brahms Piano Quintet to be the decisive proof that Brahms was the equal of Wagner as a formal musical creator.

This performance shows Glenn Gould in 1957 to be an authentic Brahms interpreter, in this case highlighting the musical drama of the movement.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zz2lXEvZMQ
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Brahms symphonies, together with the Beethoven symphonies, constituted the backbone of every orchestra's repertoire throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In fact, there was little room remaining apart from these two giants for other composers to get their feet in the door.

Here is Furtwangler with his most intense Brahms First.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUuu21qv6dQ
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Gould had a grudging respect for Mozart, and recorded this classic performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto #24 in 1961 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (under the pseudonym of the CBC Symphony Orchestra). Gould planned to record the Mozart #22 with Karel Ancerl and the Cleveland Orchestra in 1974, but Gould suffered a stroke and Ancerl passed on that year. It is better to complete such projects when they are possible.

Gould had planned to record the 22nd concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra and Karel Ancerl, unfortunately Gould suffered a major stroke in 1973 and Ancerl passed on the following year.
Here is a live concert of the 25th from the Mozart 250th anniversary, we are now celebrating the 265th.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb4FLHRpsVs
 
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Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Furtwangler teamed with Edwin Fischer to perform the Brahms Piano Concerto 2 in 1942 with the Berlin Philharmonic. A very spontaneous performance, and strongly emotional. A classic.

Dan, Brahms's piano writing is frustrating. There are places where you can only get all the notes if you are conservative, but then the music just dies. Or you go for it and miss some notes. As a player I loathe his piano writing. As a listener I love it.

Here is just one spot that is a nightmare:


Compare with Richter:


If you really know the score, Richter doesn't nail every note, but the overall effect is superhuman. In comparison, Zimerman is note perfect, but it's safe.

A casual listener won't even know there are problems, and the orchestrations are always superb.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Dan, Brahms's piano writing is frustrating. There are places where you can only get all the notes if you are conservative, but then the music just dies. Or you go for it and miss some notes. As a player I loathe his piano writing. As a listener I love it.

Here is just one spot that is a nightmare:



If you really know the score, Richter doesn't nail every note, but the overall effect is superhuman. In comparison, Zimerman is note perfect, but it's safe.

A casual listener won't even know there are problems, and the orchestrations are always superb.
Agree with your observations. My friend Arthur Rowe simply told me "it is EXTREMELY difficult." I was a little surprised to hear him say that, because I had just heard him play a recital of the three Brahms violin sonatas with the then concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, a wonderful performance, and Arthur had handled the piano parts with great ease.

The Brahms Piano Concerto 2 is apparently more difficult than it sounds, a tough assignment.
 
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Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Agree with your observations. My friend Arthur Rowe simply told me "it is EXTREMELY difficult." I was a little surprised to hear him say that, because I had just heard him play a recital of the three Brahms violin sonatas with the then concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, a wonderful performance, and Arthur had handled the piano parts with great ease.

The Brahms Piano Concerto 2 is apparently more difficult than it sounds, a tough assignment.
It'a a monster, and in a heartbeat I could point out several places that are flat out unplayable. This is typical for Brahms. From what I've read he was not an accurate player, and I think in many cases his own music was often not well received because he himself could not sell it. Think only of his 1st Piano Concerto, which utterly failed at the time he wrote it. Today when it is well played it's a home run every time because for a very long time pianists have been so advanced technically that they can mask problems, and the total picture with orchestra is magnificent.

The bottom line is that top pianists either go conservative, mostly getting all the notes but with a bit of a governor, or they say "screw it, I'm going for the effect" and let a few cheats in. Richter and Rubinstein both had the big picture idea, so their recordings are full of drama and huge ideas. Zimerman's recordings is conservative and very accurate, but it leaves me cold. But he is a magnificent artist and does amazing things with other music.

In contrast, the Liszt Concertos are totally playable. You have to have a world class technique, but if you do, everything is there. This is typical. Liszt was a far better pianist and wrote far better for the piano. But when we listen only to the music, we generally become more deeply involved in Brahms, even with the writing weaknesses, because the ideas themselves are so magnificent.

And yes, the Brahms 2nd in much of the piece won't sound hard to the average listener. There are, for sure, places where even a casual listener will be impressed, but mostly it just all seems to work when played well, so the impression is often "Well, that was just pretty." The most difficult thing for a top musician is playing music that is very hard that doesn't sound so. That's where the average person just claps politely even when something great just happened. Only other people who play the music know what really happened. I assume it is the same in tennis. When the Big 3 do something terribly difficult the others know it. Much of the time I don't. I never played well enough, Dan.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Here is a pianist who plays the Brahms Second Piano Concerto today in her performances, it is in her standard repertoire.
This live performance of the C-minor Quartet gives some idea of how this 5' 2" player, with a digital stretch of a twelfth, or so I have heard, approaches Brahms.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=49GKb5UAFIQ
 
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Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Here is a pianist who plays the Brahms Second Piano Concerto today in her performances, it is in her standard repertoire.
This live performance of the C-minor Quartet gives some idea of how this 5' 2" player, with a digital stretch of a twelfth, or so I have heard, approaches Brahms.

It's highly unlikely that this lady has a 12th. I have a solid 11th, and at a hair under 5'11 I'm unusual. You can instantly hear the span of a pianist by certain pieces that have rolls (arpeggio signs), big chords, that are ripped or hit solid by pianists who can do it. So for the Ab Polonaise I can instantly tell hand size by the big chords with 10ths. Horowitz and Rubinstein hit them as massive chords. Ashkenazy and many others roll them. There is also a different in the sound of passages with pedal. With large hands you can pedal at the top of chords because you hold the bottom with your finger. Without that span you have pedal on the bottom note to keep it from getting lost.

For most literature it doesn't matter because such large things are marked to be rolled. That's how people like Yuja Wand and La Rocha fool us. But in certain pieces you know. For most people over 6 feet tall even an 11th is unusual. I have the larger span because I was a shrimp. I was only 5 feet tall entering 10th grade and had stretched max for years, attempting to hit big chords. When I shot up an additional 11 inches I could hit almost anything.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
@Dan Lobb

Amazing things happen live, and I've never heard another performance of this movement with this fire. Don't know Argerich's age here. I'd say at least middle 60s. This has to be about 20% faster than any other performance I've heard. She was on fire, and the whole group was smoking. A string broke. Note her strong accents in the middle, bringing out a feel that is unique. Probably faster than the composer intended. Marked allegro, and this is vivace or presto. But I like it.
 

Clay lover

Hall of Fame
When I learnt music it was Baroque (Bach), Classical (Mozart), Romantic (Chopin) and Modern...so does classical mean Beethoven classical or basically all past music
 
If you really know the score, Richter doesn't nail every note, but the overall effect is superhuman. In comparison, Zimerman is note perfect, but it's safe.

A casual listener won't even know there are problems, and the orchestrations are always superb.
Yeah, Richter was a beast! His Beethoven sonata recordings are pretty special too.
 
When I learnt music it was Baroque (Bach), Classical (Mozart), Romantic (Chopin) and Modern...so does classical mean Beethoven classical or basically all past music
'Beethoven classical' by your definition, not all past music. (Classical-Mozart is also a period within classical music)
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
@Dan Lobb

Amazing things happen live, and I've never heard another performance of this movement with this fire. Don't know Argerich's age here. I'd say at least middle 60s. This has to be about 20% faster than any other performance I've heard. She was on fire, and the whole group was smoking. A string broke. Note her strong accents in the middle, bringing out a feel that is unique. Probably faster than the composer intended. Marked allegro, and this is vivace or presto. But I like it.
Sorry, Gary, but the link doesn't show up here. Could you try again?
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Another great Mozart gala from the Vienna Philharmonic, good to see it again in this year of the Mozart 265th anniversary.

The tenor soloist is Michael Schade, a former fellow music student of mine from Western U, where he went to study medicine and was diverted into music by singing in the same choir in which I was a first tenor (although not at the same time period). Schade lived for quite some years nearby here from where I am posting this.

Anna Netrebko is in great form here.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOBlm5JV-Ok
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This well constructed concerto served as the basis for many great occasions.
My wife and I actually attended this particular performance in September 2018 in Seoul, we were given tickets as a gift by the tailor of the piano soloist, Minsoo Sohn.
This tailor has his shop in the Seoul Performing Arts Center where this concert took place, and he gave us tickets which were ideal, with a perfect view of the pianist's hands.
A marvelous performance here.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Amazing, I have just discovered that the post-intermission performance from the above concert is available, a moving and exciting realization (for the audience) of the Nielsen Symphony 4. This audience responded vociferously to this symphonic exposition of how a smaller country like Denmark could withstand and overcome the tides of war raging through Europe, and emerge triumphantly.
Perhaps the people of South Korea can relate to this message of hope and courage in the face of threatening forces.

The Nielsen 4th completed this Scandinavia program in fine style, this being Nielsen's most successful symphony.

My wife and I are sitting in the shadows just behind the conductor's left shoulder. Perfect seats, thanks to the tailor.
At the end of the performance, our location is identifiable at the left/front area when we get up to leave.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Today, Minsoo Sohn performed some eloquent Beethoven in Seoul. The tailor for Minsoo Sohn, who gave us the tickets as a gift to see the concert above, has again done a superb work with the concert suit worn here.

Minsoo Sohn won the Honens Piano Competition in Canada in 2006, which launched his major career. A former fellow piano student of mine from Western U was on that jury in Calgary which awarded the first prize, and when Minsoo performed in Toronto in 2010, my wife and I drove my piano professor there to meet Minsoo at the concert. A very friendly gentleman.
Sohn is currently a professor of piano at the Korea National University of the Arts in Seoul, the foremost fine arts school in Korea.

https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY_ZIc8BTj4
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Minsoo Sohn is not the only professor at the Korea National University of the Arts whom I have met....since 2017 the great cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, a former music professor of mine at Western U in the early 1970's, has been a visiting professor at Korea National University of the Arts.

One of Tsutsumi's students at KNUA, Hayoung Lee, won first place in the David Popper Cello Competition in Hungary in 2019. Tsutsumi himself had won the Pablo Casals International Cello Competition in Hungary in 1963. Hungary is a good place for outstanding cellists.

Here is Hayoung Lee with a stunning performance of David Popper's "Dance of the Elves" from that 2019 competition, I find her interpretation more musically convincing than the other famous cellists whom I have heard play, or rather rush through, this composition. (The linkage causes a couple of sound drop-offs, view online for better results.)


This link provides the sound without drop-outs, but you have to scroll down a bit.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
With the COVID crisis, new ways have to be invented to perform classical music for the public.
Hayoung Lee performs the Schumann cello/piano piece on television in Korea.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
In 2020, Hayoung Lee was scheduled to compete in the George Enescu Cello Competition, however there is no evidence that she actually competed that I could find. Perhaps she withdrew due to COVID-19 concerns.

Here was her projected program, and notice that she was going to play the Popper "Dance of the Elves" and the Schumann work posted above.
She also planned to perform the Brahms Cello Sonata No. 2 and the Kodaly Solo Cello Sonata, both of these works were central items in Tsutsumi's concert presentations (Tsutsumi is her current teacher.)
I heard Tsutsumi perform the Kodaly Solo Sonata at least three or four times in concert at Western U in the early 1970's. Always a stunning performance by him, and his recording from that era is not yet available on CD, unfortunately.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Here it is, Hayoung Lee was among the withdrawals from the 2020 competition due to COVID-19 concerns. If you scroll down, she is #24 of the 31 withdrawals.

The jury for that 2020 George Enescu Competition is extremely name-worthy, it included cellist Myung Wha Chung (sister of Kyung Wha Chung, the famed violinist) and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi himself. Tsutsumi had also served as a jury member for the 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition, which is perhaps the toughest competition.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
For that 2020 George Enescu Cello competition, the jury also included another South Korean cellist, Meehae Ryo. A strong jury, and one which would give a good hearing to talented cellists.

Here is Meehae Ryo performing with Martha Argerich.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.

Also included in Hayoung Lee's program for the missed 2020 George Enescu Cello Competition were two concertos, Haydn C Major and the Shostakovich No. 1.

Here is another famous South Korean cellist, now a full-time conductor, with the Haydn.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Han Na Chang is now a conductor, my wife and I heard her last year conduct the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in an intense performance of the Mahler 5th Symphony, a very emotional performance. Here she is recently conducting a fine performance of the Brahms Second piano concerto.
https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDnyfAYXnpA
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Some soloists are defying the COVID crisis and giving sensational performances, this Korean pianist has adopted a very cool mask to facilitate the ongoing commitment to great music.
The finest Ravel pianist of our time will not be silenced, this recent performance from a couple of weeks ago was in Spain, and a Spanish influence on Ravel's melodies in this great concerto is evident.
This performance was in Spain itself, with elaborate protections for the performers and audience.
The slow movement of this concerto is a waltz, and my wife and I have actually danced a waltz to this music.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
There was a jazzy encore to this performance of Ravel's jazz-influenced concerto.

Hey, this is real jazz, man.
The soloist interpolates a section from the third movement of the just-performed Ravel piano concerto into the jazz piece performed as an encore. See if you can spot it.
The true spirit of jazz.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This is the other late piano concerto by Ravel, which recounts Ravel's personal experiences in WWI as an ambulance driver at the front, where he was once isolated behind enemy lines for several days.

It begins with a French Overture dotted-rhythm processional strut, contains longing reminiscences of home, a mournful jazz tune (perhaps related to loss of lives), a march, battle music, and ends with a triumphant statement of the machismo French overture.

Ravel's greatest concerto, performed by the finest Ravel pianist of our time.

Back online, from last season's performance in St. Petersburg, Russia. This lady pianist is a hit in Russia, ever since she won the silver medal at the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition (the silver was actually the gold that year), after outplaying the field by a substantial margin.

 
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