Encore pieces

Anything musical that will not fit into the above fora
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Timtin
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Encore pieces

Post by Timtin » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:42 pm

There are a number of passing references on Pianophilia to certain pieces being deemed as ideal for playing as encores at recitals and concerts, but no dedicated thread. So I've begun this one in the hope it might produce an insight into the general topic of what constitutes good (and bad) choices for encore pieces.
I'll nail my colours to the mast straight away by saying that, as a mere listener (and inept amateur pianist), I've noticed
a rather disappointing trend over the last 20 or so years for virtuoso pianists to end their performances with slow,
quiet, and contemplative pieces rather than mighty pot-boilers.
As a result, audiences tend to give muted rather than ecstatic applause, and folk like me go away with the feeling that we've been slightly short changed, right at the end.
Frankly, when one has paid good money to see a world-class pianist, I personally would rather that they flaunt their technical skills on something showy, which I couldn't ever hope to play, like Liszt's Mazeppa, rather than something like Schumann's Traumerei, which most of us could probably play quite well.
Let the discussion begin, perhaps with reference to very quiet pieces being performed in vast auditoriums, such as happened last night at The Royal Albert Hall in London.....

4candles
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Re: Encore pieces

Post by 4candles » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:57 am

An interesting thread idea Timtin!

For my money, I was actually very impressed by Lang Lang's performance of the Liszt Consolation at the Last Night of the Proms - it actually made me listen! As much as I don't know of Liszt's music, I was pleasantly surprised (which I was surprised at!) that Lang ended his appearance on stage with that work.

In some ways, the choice of encore I would like to hear depends on what mood I'm in, the lighting used in a given recital venue, the time of day/night, the audience's response, whether the pianist has given a good, musical recital etc.

Maybe it's because I'm getting that little bit older that I can happily listen to more contemplative pieces as encores. When I was a bit younger, all I wanted to listen to were the virtuosic barnstormers that left your bottom jaw on the floor! Now I'm not so picky.
Sometimes (and maybe this is a bit fickle) the choice of a less demonstrative encore makes me appreciate a recital, the artist and their musical judgement more.

At the end of it all, as long as the final encore leaves me satisfied musically (and even emotionally), I'm happy.

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Re: Encore pieces

Post by HullandHellandHalifax » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:29 am

I think we first have to establish why we have encores, what is their purpose, how many should there be and then choice of music.
For myself looking back at old programmes and reading about lengths of concerts etc. I am under the impression that concerts are becoming shorter in length with fewer pieces and regrettably too much of the same material, something we all care about here on Pianophilia, otherwise why collect rare and unknown material. Simply we recognise that whilst there are great composers and great important compositions we also want to hear other music that highlights the great pieces placing them in context and giving us a balanced programme, both technically, emotionally and of the right duration. This is maybe why after a short programme we feel the need for more so we are fully satisfied. Perhaps this is cruel on the player but it is a very competitive world out there where mistakes are not generally tolerated and we demand total satisfaction. In other words longer programmes, fewer encores necessary.
If the concert was of a reasonably demanding standard (technically and emotionally) then I can accept encores of all sorts, if the concert was of moderate standard then I would certainly want some fireworks. Again it all comes down to good programming.
Lang Lang disappointed me in his performance of the encore, creating a totally different mood to that which Liszt requested, in fact there was no mood as far as I was concerned, it said nothing. The Liszt Concerto and the Chopin Polonaise are both light works of little emotional value but technically requiring enough to send the crowd home happy, which they did, and in that sense his choice of encore was acceptable, he just played it badly.
Speaking for myself after a draining programme I can only play something that requires less technique and more from within, and I will only play one encore. Some wise person once said that you should always leave the audience wanting more not grumbling about it being one item too long.
regards
Brian

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Re: Encore pieces

Post by Arjuna » Mon Sep 12, 2011 12:23 pm

Has anyone else heard the story of how Sviatoslav Richter (I think it was him) asked someone what he should play for an encore one night, they told him to play the Goldberg Variations, and not realising they were joking, he played it. By the time he finished there was only one person left in the audience.
Great story if it's true.
The best encore I think I've heard was "Voiles" from the 1st book of Debussy preludes. It was played by Gerard Willems in the concert celebrating the Sydney Conservatorium's new Stuart & Sons piano. This was a few years ago and it was the first time I'd heard a Stuart and Sons live, and the first time I'd heard anything but Beethoven played on one.

Timtin
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Re: Encore pieces

Post by Timtin » Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:13 pm

As you might have guessed, I was a bit disappointed that LL chose to play
something quiet (Liszt's Consolation No3) as an encore, when you consider
the size of The Royal Albert Hall, and the always rowdy nature of the last night.
In this case he certainly couldn't use tiredness as a reason, since he'd only been
playing for less than half-an-hour. No, my pet theory is that musicians think
we need contrast. So if the last official work is a barn-stormer, we're almost
guaranteed something quiet to contrast it with as an encore. Me - I'd greedy,
and always love to hear two or more barn-stormers in succession to further
rachet up the tension and excitement. If I were a professional pianist, and were
able to play them, I'd opt for something like the Liszt Mazeppa, Chopin Scherzo No2,
or Balakirev Islamey. Played well, any of those would definitely result in something
more than just polite applause, as happened on Saturday.

A slightly different question also springs to mind. When a concerto has been played,
the encores always consist of just the soloist. Why not have the encore work as
another (short) concerto-type piece, with the orchestra (obviously) playing as well?

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Re: Encore pieces

Post by 4candles » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:42 pm

Timtin wrote:Why not have the encore work as
another (short) concerto-type piece, with the orchestra (obviously) playing as well?
I'd certainly be keen to see more of that, but as H&H&H has already pointed out, it does depend on programming (ie what concerted work has come before) and also, orchestras (to my knowledge) usually have a set number of works that they have the time and resources to learn/polish in a given season, so adding to that may not benefit them, especially as many of the less famous orchestras are probably under financial strain. Getting more parts for each orchestral player costs money unfortunately. But that's just my impression - I could be totally wrong! :D

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Re: Encore pieces

Post by WCosand » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:11 pm

My experience with encores has been that I not only present different material in reaction to the applause, but certain instruments inspire certain pieces.

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